Accelerometers and gyroscopes are fueling the robotic revolution, especially the drones’ market segment. However, these MEMS devices are not the only ones on the market place anymore, with environmental sensors penetrating this industry too.
InvenSense, today TDK, combined it: the US-based company, IMU leader and formerly Apple’s supplier during many years, released last month the world’s 1st 7-axis motion tracking device combining accelerometer, gyroscope and pressure sensor. InvenSense announces the ICM-20789 7-axis combo sensor dedicated to mainly drones and flying toys as well as smart watches, wearables, activity monitoring, floor and stair counting etc.
The reverse costing company, System Plus Company has investigated the 7-axis component and technologies selected by InvenSense. Aim of this analysis was to identify the technologies selected by the leading company as well as to understand the impacts on the manufacturing costs.
What are the technical choices made by InvenSense? What are the benefits for the device in term of performances? What is the impact on the manufacturing process flow?
System Plus Consulting’s team proposes today a comprehensive technology and cost analysis, including as well a detailed comparison with the previous generation of combo sensors from InvenSense.
The drone’s market segment dedicated to consumer applications confirms its attractiveness with 23% CAGR between 2016 and 2021. According to Yole Développement, sister company of System Plus Consulting, the market should reach almost US$ 3.4 billion in 2023 (Source : Sensors for drones and robots: market opportunities and technology revolution report, Yole Développement, 2016). Under this dynamic context, System Plus Consulting’s experts are following the technical advances and the evolution of the manufacturing costs of the combo devices. InvenSense’s device is a good example of this technology breakthrough: indeed, for the 1st time, a company presents a 7-axis component combining accelerometer, gyroscope and barometric pressure sensor, integrated on the same package. Innovation clearly is not in the selection of the components, comments the reverse engineering & costing company, but more in the smart combination of the three devices in the same package.
Stéphane Elisabeth, RF and Advanced Packaging Cost Engineer from System Plus Consulting explains: “Using single package integration, the US company merged a 6-axis inertial sensor already identified in iPhone 6 with a barometric pressure sensor based on a design coming from the barometric division of Sensirion. Therefore, InvenSense took benefits of Sensirion’s partial acquisition, taking place in 2016, by developing a specific approach eliminating a package and minimizing board area requirements.”
InvenSense was able to integrate its own barometric pressure sensor thanks to the knowledge reached with the acquisition of Sensirion’s barometric division. This device is shipped in a 4 mm x 4 mm x 1.37 mm land grid array (LGA) package.
InvenSense acquired the pressure sensor business from Sensirion Holding AG and its affiliates used in the development of capacitive-type monolithic digital pressure-sensor technology platform.
InvenSense’s financial report highlights the details of this acquisition: the purchase price associated with the acquisition was approximately US$9.8 million, of which US$5.7 million was allocated to developed technology with an estimated useful life of six years and US$4.1 million was allocated to goodwill.
Faced with this simple but impressive technical innovation, what will be the answer of other MEMS & Sensors manufacturers? Will this combination of IMU with barometric pressure sensor be followed by competitors? The selling prices of IMUs have fell in recent years and adding new functions is a way to keep a profitable ASP.