STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM),one of the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturers, and Ball-IT Oy, a leading provider of advanced real-time wireless sensor solutions, announced a novel MEMS-based wireless motion-control device. Making its debut at ST’s stand at Electronica 2006, the smart golfball-sized object can operate as a free-hand personal computer mouse, compass, measuring tape, pedometer, or a 3D-object controller.
Enabled by ST’s Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) technology, which uses standard semiconductor technology to mass produce precise micron-sized structures that interact with the physical world, Ball-IT’s wireless ball controller responds to changes in position, direction, speed and acceleration, down to the most delicate movements, and translate those movements into immediate on-screen action. The ball is also sensitive to pressure, so its motion-sensitive user interface includes squeeze-prompted commands.
The small dimensions and ultra-low power consumption of ST’s 3-axis digital acceleration sensor contribute to the user-friendly size and weight of the smart ball and prolong its battery life.
“ST’s strengths in MEMS and leadership in micro-machining technologies result in the market’s best combination of sensor resolution, size, power and cost characteristics,” said Johannes Väänänen, Chairman of Ball-IT. “ST’s accelerometers fit perfectly with our real-time wireless sensor technology to create a compelling case for the adoption of motion-based user interfaces in a wide range of personal electronic devices.”
“I believe we’ve sensed the market’s direction and are on the ball,” said Benedetto Vigna, MEMS Business Unit Director, STMicroelectronics. “This co-operation with Ball-IT confirms our conviction that high-quality, cost-effective MEMS sensors open up exciting new possibilities for intuitive man-machine interaction in consumer applications.”
ST’s unique portfolio of two- and three-axis MEMS accelerometers targets a wide range of low-g applications from motion-based user interfaces to hard-disk drive and automobile-passenger protection. Market analysts predict that by 2010 there will be one accelerometer in each mobile phone and every portable hard-disk-based device (laptops, audio/video players), representing a total market of more than 1.2 billion units.
Ball-IT Oy is a privately held Finnish company that was established in September 2005. The company aims to become the global leader in the development and production of real-time wireless sensing solutions. These solutions include enabling devices and modules as well as core software components for implementing consumer-level User Interfaces.
STMicroelectronics is a global leader in developing and delivering semiconductor solutions across the spectrum of microelectronics applications. An unrivalled combination of silicon and system expertise, manufacturing strength, Intellectual Property (IP) portfolio and strategic partners positions the Company at the forefront of System-on-Chip (SoC) technology and its products play a key role in enabling today’s convergence markets. The Company’s shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, on Euronext Paris and on the Milan Stock Exchange. In 2005, the Company’s net revenues were $8.88 billion and net earnings were $266 million.