MEMS to Improve Smartphone Camera Performance

By WPG AmericasFebruary 26, 2016

InvenSense Inc., a provider of micro-electrico-mechanical (MEMS) sensor platform solutions, revealed its latest innovations in its Internet of Sensors platforms and solutions for mobile, smart home, wearable, industrial, and automotive segments in the Mobile World Congress (MWC) last week.

Among its offerings, the company announced a 6-axis (3-axis accelerometer + 3-axis gyroscope) integrated microelectromechanical system (MEMS) motion sensor designed for mainboard optical image stabilization (OIS) for smartphones.

What is MEMS technology? For the uninitiated, MEMS stands for “microelectromechanical system.” These microscopic devices are replacing their larger and more power consuming predecessors, and are extensively used in technologies like microphones, barometers, gyroscopes, and mobile devices. MEMS-based products are more precise, smaller in size, more reliable and have low power consumption capabilities.

The San Jose-based company creates human-like interfaces—including motion, audio and software solutions—for both, consumer and industrial market. This year, they’ve introduced MEMS sensor, ICG-20660L, to improve optical image stabilization (OIS) in smartphones. At the heart of this technology, lies the idea that the Internet of Sensors is the next wave of intelligent sensor system-on-chip (SoC) solutions and that they connect any consumer electronic and industrial device, making them “smarter.”

The ICG-20660L is a combination sensor with a 3-axis accelerometer and a 3-axis gyroscope aimed at improving the image stabilization in mobile devices, and also supporting newly developed technology for macro image stabilization, known as OIS-Macro. Newly announced, Xiaomi’s Mi5 smartphone is the latest mobile device to integrate 6-axis MEMS.

The innovative hardware within the ICG-20660L is all set to revolutionize the image stabilization performance in smartphones, enabling macro and telephoto photography where subject is zoomed in. These functionalities have so far been reserved for high-end digital still cameras. But, with main board OIS, InvenSense is bringing these functions to the smartphone arena for the first time, opening doors to advanced smartphone imaging solutions.

According to InvenSense, as smartphones gradually become the main cameras among consumers, OEMs are looking for ways to enhance that experience with OIS across their product portfolio, while maintaining design aesthetics. In macro photography, often camera jitters, thanks to shaky hands, require capabilities beyond existing OIS solutions. “The ICG-20660L addresses this challenge by allowing the OIS-Macro motion sensor to be placed on the main board of a phone without the need for dynamic calibration at the phone level during production. This solution not only enhances the photography experience; it also allows creation of a compact camera module while reducing the total system cost, as dynamic calibration is no longer needed due to InvenSense’s unique ability to accurately control tolerances needed for main board OIS,” claimed InvenSense in a press release.