As embedded auxiliary technologies such as geo fences and gyroscopes gain more popularity, the need for sensor fusion across device classes has become increasingly important. This importance has led to several mergers and innovative technology strategies from the likes of Fairchild Semiconductor and Kionix that will become more noticeable in the coming months. We expect sensor fusion to continue gaining traction in mobile/wearable device form factors and translate to the greater embedded market over the next several years.
Sensor fusion is the process by which data from several different sensors is fused together to compute algorithms too complex and resource intensive for a single sensory system to execute on it is own. In other words, sensor fusion combines data from multiple sensor types to enable greater functionality in a given device.
The entire market for sensor fusion in embedded hardware is growing at an extremely fast rate. Rich Collins, Marketing Manager of Synopsis, believes that the growth in sensor fusion is due to the need for additional processing capability and software for embedded systems which have generally grown increasingly complex. Some of the most compelling solutions have come from companies such as Synopsis, with its DesignWare Sensor Subsystem, as the current desire in the embedded marketplace is for more integrated solutions. Another interesting innovation has been seen from Kionix with their MEMS sensors which are scalable across multiple operating systems and support third-party software. Kionix is becoming increasingly notable from their developments in exercise technology and 3D gaming.
As a result of the increasing desire for embedded sensory integration, several major players in the sensor fusion market have seen mergers and acquisitions in the past 12 months. For instance, in May 2014, Fairchild Semiconductor, a provider of high performance semiconductors, announced its acquisition of Xsens, a Dutch company known for its motion tracking software. In June 2014, Audience announced it was acquiring Sensor Platforms. The fusion of these companies is leading to creative new ways of writing the algorithms required for sensor fusion. The escalating activity within the sensor fusion market will also drive growth within the MEMS market, of which several of these players have close ties to.
Sensor fusion is already translating well from consumer devices to the embedded market as a result of increasing connectivity, decreasing prices for sensor devices, and the internet of things. The limitless applications for sensor fusion will have major implications for future embedded systems.
by Joe Botsch, Research Assistant