Bosch low-power IMU


One of the most important tasks for most wearable Health Tech devices is to know where it is. Thanks to the demands of the smartphone market, the components required to keep track of position and motion keep getting smaller and costing less. And perhaps most important of all, they are drawing less power. The electronics manufacturer Bosch recently announced a new inertial measurement unit (IMU) that integrates a 3-axis accelerometer and a 3-axis gyroscope in a device that is 2.5 by 3 mm and only 0.8 mm thick.

The most impressive feature about this new chip, the BMI 160, is that it draws less than 1 mA of power when operating, which Bosch claims is the lowest power consumption in the industry. This power drain is so small that this chip could run full-time for nearly three months on the power from a single AA penlight battery. It has sophisticated power management functions built-in as well, using interrupts to wake up the functions when motion is detected. It is also designed to work with additional sensors for geomagnetic or pressure data.

As components like this continue to get smaller and draw less power, it makes new applications practical. When a device requires less electricity, designers can get longer life from a given battery, or they can reduce size and weight by using a smaller battery. Low-power components also help make novel power sources such as energy harvesting feasible options.