TDK was demonstrating its latest motion and direction sensing solution at CES 2024. Its “Super high accuracy position sensing solution” uses three sensing mechanisms to know how devices move in space and in which direction they are pointing.
Note: In the photo above, the screen shows a top view of the object I hold in my hand. The position and orientation are accurately tracked in real time.
These three mechanisms are a Gyroscope (orientation), an Accelerometer (relative position), and the Tunnel Magneto-Resistance, also known as TMR (also linked to orientation). By using all three in combination, TDK can vastly improve the accuracy at any given time, especially when it comes to the orientation of the device, in my opinion.
Here, the Gyroscope and Accelerometer (6-axis) are integrated into a TDK ICM-456xy chip, while the TMR (3-axis) is a standalone module that probably has one TMR per X, Y, and Z axis inside. Note that TMR should not be confused with a Magnetometer, which is typically used for Compass-type applications.
Think about all the times you have tried to use a mapping application on your handset and the phone’s orientation has been completely wrong. That’s so frustrating because you now have to walk for a few yards or more to see if you are heading in the right direction. It’s a hard problem to solve, so phones often don’t get this right and need visual help, such as Google’s “Live View” feature in Google Maps.
TDK assures us that its SmartMotion + TMR solution would make this behavior a thing of the past and that your TDK-powered sensor would always indicate a correct orientation out of the box without requiring frequent calibration.
This technology can also improve positional information coming from the motion sensor because the TMR’s data can be fused with inputs from the Accelerometer and the Gyroscope to provide an additional data point used to correct positional drift, a common problem when using Accelerometer and Gyroscope without TMR. Although drift issues would not completely disappear, they can be drastically reduced.
Everything required to provide high-quality motion and orientation data is embedded in the chips, including sensors, computing power, and algorithms (software).
As you can imagine, any application that requires accurate positional and orientation data might benefit from this TDK technology, and the company’s officially supported application is as follows: “IoT, Navigation, Industrial application, Wearables, Smartphones, Activity Monitors, Smart Watches, Drones, Toys, Sports Applications.”