Epson Expands Sensor Use in Commerce and Industry

– Develops IMUs for high-precision motion and positioning detection –

Not many people know that the complex movements of the satellite you can see in a clear night sky are controlled by a device called an inertial measurement unit (IMU). IMUs are sensing devices consisting of gyroscopes and accelerometers combined into a single package, and which are capable of accurately detecting all types of movement - no matter how big or small - on three dimensions. Because of the extreme accuracy of these measurements, IMUs are used for applications such as motion control and positioning in sophisticated equipment including satellites, aircraft, spacecraft and submarines. However, due to their size, high energy consumption and high price, use of IMUs has until recent years been largely restricted to highly specialized applications.

Recently, however, manufacturers have begun to develop lower priced IMUs with a lower level of accuracy. These have been used in consumer products such as digital cameras, car navigation systems and in the 3D mouse used in game systems. But while suppliers of finished products for commerce and industry have realized the benefits of IMUs, manufacturers have not been able to develop IMUs that provide sufficient levels of accuracy and stability, while at the same time being compact, consuming low amounts of energy and being easy to install.

IMU Market

To answer these needs, Epson applied its core QMEMS quartz processing technology to develop high-precision, highly stable gyroscopes for use in the S4E5A0A0 IMU. In addition to leveraging its expertise as the world's leading supplier of quartz*1 devices, Epson applied its expertise in semiconductors and software to create a reasonably priced IMU offering both high precision and stability. Epson began shipping samples of its new product in July 2011.

Inertial Measurement Unit

Watch the IMU demo video New window

Weighing only 7 grams, Epson's new IMU measures only 24 mm x 24 mm x 10 mm, making its external dimensions similar to those of a fingernail, and the smallest in its class*2. Because of its compactness, light weight and low power consumption, the new product can be easily built into a variety of commercial and industrial products that have to date been unable to include IMUs. Used primarily for motion analysis and control, navigation assistance, and vibration control and stabilization, the new IMU has been incorporated in a variety of products. One example is mini-helicopters for crop spraying, in which the IMU detects the attitude and position of the helicopter, therefore enabling the operator to maintain an accurate and stable flying pattern. The new IMU has also been applied to personal and car navigation devices to determine both position and attitude, with accuracy at a level sufficient to allow highly accurate motion analysis.

Going forward, Epson plans to closely monitor customer needs, and develop IMUs and other sensing applications available to ever more customers in the commercial and industrial fields.

IMU Market

*1 Epson is the leading manufacturer of quartz devices in revenue (according to 2009 market share data estimated by the Japan Quartz Device Association)
*2 Compared to IMUs for commerce and industry as of May 2011 (Epson research).

Related links

Read the news release:
New Epson Inertial Measurement Unit Offers World Class Energy Consumption and Size

Check the following site for more information about Epson IMUs: New window