Chirp Microsystem Made The Smallest And Most Accurate Ultrasonic Time-of-Flight Sensors

Recently Californian startup Chirp Microsystems officially announced two discrete ultrasonic Time-of-Flight (ToF) sensors, the CH-101 and CH-201, with maximum sensing ranges of 1m and 5m, respectively. Both chips have a 3.5×3.5mm package and they are powered by same ASIC or application-specific integrated circuit for signal processing. To achieve different sensing ranges, the Piezoelectric Micro-machined Ultrasonic Transducers (PMUT), the MEMS parts of the sensors are tuned and built differently.

Chirp Microsystem designed smallest and most accurate ultrasonic Time-of-Flight sensors

Chirp Microsystems was founded in 2013 and the CH-101 is their 2nd generation design while the CH-201 is an upgraded third generation design. Their 4th generation design of chips is under development and prototypes are being tested recently. Chirp Microsystems declares that with each design so far, they’ve improved their transmitter and receiver performance by 4 times. David Horsley, Chirp Microsystems’ CTO, told,

In fact, we have been sampling the CH101 for two years now and we realized we had never made a product announcement for it.

According to Chirp Microsystems, the chips are the first commercially available MEMS-based ultrasonic ToF sensors and can beat all other ToF solutions on the small size and low power consumption. The “Sonars on a chip” draw 100 times less power and are a thousand times smaller than the conventional ultrasonic rangefinders used in today’s industrial automotive applications. Unlike infrared based ToF sensors, these new MEMS sensors do not rely on optical path clearance. So, it’s now easier for engineers to design bezel-free smartphones with precise gesture recognition.

The CH-101 and CH-201 include an interrupt pin and a GIO pin. That pin is used in hardware trigger mode to connect several transducers on the same I2C bus so they can operate in a synchronous fashion. For Virtual Reality applications, data from multiple chips are mixed to detect the position of user’s hand in 3D space.

Previously the California based startup also made monolithic linear arrays that had ten transducers in a row. Using that design, one can perform beamforming and identify both range and position of an object. Though they stayed away from commercializing it. “We didn’t want to bite too much at a time” – said the CTO of the startup. Rather they decided to focus on solving various manufacturing and packaging issues first. Horsley, the CTO of the Chirp Microsystems, also added,

We are pioneers in this area, and we are not close to the optimum yet, we still have a lot of design space to improve the specs.

MATRIX Voice: Open-Source Voice Recognition

MATRIX Voice is a”Voice Recognition” development board, designed for the Raspberry Pi or Stand-alone with ESP32 (WiFi/BT/MCU)

MATRIX Voice is an open-source VOICE RECOGNITION platform consisting of a 3.14-inches in diameter dev board, with a radial array of 7 MEMS microphones connected to a Xilinx Spartan6 FPGA & 64 Mbit SDRAM with 18 RGBW LED’s & 64 GPIO pins. Providing developers the opportunity to integrate custom voice & hardware-accelerated machine learning technology right onto the silicon. An ESP32 Wi-Fi / BT enabled 32 bit microcontroller version is available. It’s for makers, industrial and home IoT engineers.

The project is already funded on and shipping begins next week.

L20G20IS Gyroscope: The secret behind the perfect picture

STMelectronics introduces a super tiny two-axis gyroscope (L20G20IS), a Micro-Electro-Mechanical system (MEMS) designed for the optical image stabilization for Smartphones with less energy consumption compared to its predecessor (L2G2IS).

A gyroscope, or gyro for short, adds an additional dimension to the information supplied from the accelerometer by tracking rotation or twist. An accelerometer measures linear acceleration of movement, while a gyro on the other hand measures the angular rotational velocity.

The gyro and the accelerometer work together to detect the rotation of phone and other features like tilting of phone while playing racing games, enhancing the overall gaming experience or in this case, achieving optical image stabilization.

The L20G20IS ultra-compact square gyro uses 25% less surface to shrink camera module size, simplify circuit design and allowing development of thinner devices. The gyro fixes the thin substrates deformations resulted by smartphone moves to ensure consistent measurements for image stabilization.


  • ±100 dps / ±200 dps full-scale range
  • 5 degree phase delay · 3.8 mdps/√(Hz) rate noise density
  • Wide supply voltage range: 1.7 V to 3.6 V
  • Low-voltage compatible IOs
  • 3- and 4-wire SPI digital interface
  • Embedded temperature sensor
  • Embedded self-test
  • Integrated low-pass filters with user-selectable bandwidth
  • Power-down and sleep modes for smart power saving
  • ECOPACK®, RoHS and “Green” compliant
  • Volume (2.0 x 2.0 x 0.7)mm
  • Zero-rate Level: 0.03dps/°C (range: -20°C to 75°C)

Also L20G20IS includes a sensing element and an IC interface capable of providing the measured angular rate to the application through an SPI digital interface. It is compatible with single- or dual-camera modules and is available now in the 12-lead 2mm x 2mm LGA package.

Zero-rate level: This value indicates “the deviation of an actual output signal from the ideal output signal if no acceleration is present”, or more clearly the output value that will be generated when there is no movement on the device. This is very important for the phone, it needs to know when it is not moving to be able to stabilize the images with the appropriate values.


Smaller but more efficient gyroscope! The L20G20IS boots 30% faster (in less than 70ms) consuming just 1.4mA (50% less of current than usually). Although, the temperature can affect the sensitivity and the zero-rate level of the gyro, producing wrong measurements for image stabilization by the phone. However, the L20G20IS device has a integrated temperature sensor to guarantee sharper images to the users even with long exposure times.

The smart-camera software saves even more battery with the power-down and sleep modes. Another improve is the  suppression ratio of 6dB, it gives outstanding optical correction to banish camera shake from smartphone photography.

Source:  Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS). ST is a world leader in MEMS devices for mobile applications, with more than 900 MEMS-related patents and patent applications worldwide.

Brand New BiCMOS Flexible Transistor


The transistor revolutionized the field of electronics, and paved the way for smaller and cheaper radios, calculators, and computers, among other things since its very first practically implemented device as a point-contact-transistor invented in 1947 and getting the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1956.

Now, engineers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) have built the most flexible, fully-functional transistor in the world!  The BiCMOS  (Bipolar Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) thin-film transistor has all current transistor’s characteristics: speed, carrying large current and low dissipation – but it is extremely flexible.

This is an interesting advance that could open the door to an increasingly interconnected world, enabling manufacturers to add smart wireless capabilities to any number of large or small products that curve, bend, stretch and move.

Making traditional BiCMOS flexible electronics was difficult, in part because the process takes several months and requires a multitude of delicate, high-temperature steps. Even a minor variation in temperature at any point could ruin all of the previous steps. This fabrication process is not currently as commercially viable for most of applications.

However, the engineers fabricated their flexible electronics on a single-crystal silicon nanomembrane on a single bendable piece of plastic. The secret to their success is their unique process, which eliminates many steps and slashes both the time and cost of fabricating the transistors.

This new electronic has the potential to change the electronic’s industry in a new way. Everything touched by electronics (computers, microcontrollers, sensors…) could be completely flexible due the easily of this new technology to scale up to commercial levels.

The vast majority of transistors are now produced in integrated circuits. A logic gate consists of up to about twenty transistors whereas an advanced microprocessor, as of 2009 and with a cost of just a couple of usd, can use as many as 3 billion transistors. This is the best transistor’s advantage: mass-production with a extremely low cost.

For that reason, the transistor is the key active component in practically all modern electronics. The transistor is on the list of IEEE milestones and many consider it to be one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century.

This new flexible transistor could be in future electronic boards for a flexible electronics development and applications never even seen before. Definitely, the future is now.

obniz – API managed IO on the Cloud

Obniz is the world’s first development board which IO is available as API on the cloud. It’s Tiny but powerful, Internet connected board.

obniz has 12 IO and WiFi module and It can be controlled through the APIs on obniz cloud, either through the REST or WebSocket API. The API can be used in javascript, so obniz programs written in JavaScript can run on a webpage, so “Turning on a motor by pressing a button on the Web” is an easy task!

With obniz, it’s easy to make any hardware project you can think of! Just connect motors or sensors to an obniz then program it via the Internet. No App or firmware flashing is required. Program it from your PC or smartphone now!

obniz – API managed IO on the Cloud – [Link]

What are Aluminum Polymer Capacitors?

Choosing the right capacitors can make a big difference in the reliability, longevity, cost, and board size of your design. But most engineers don’t know which capacitors to choose for which applications. In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton chats with James Lewis from KEMET about the fascinating and surprising world of capacitor technology.

What are Aluminum Polymer Capacitors? – [Link]

Apertus AXIOM Professional Digital Cinema Camera is open source

Apertus AXIOM Beta is a professional digital cinema camera built around free open source software and hardware. AXIOM Beta is the latest version powered by MicroZed development board based on Xilinx Zynq 7020 ARM + FPGA SoC, and running Arch Linux ARM. The camera will run Arch Linux ARM on MicroZed board, support common network protocols (SSH/FTP/SCP/etc), and be configurable via a web interface. It has many interesting specification as listed below, however audio recording is not currently supported. Many more software and hardware details can be found in their Wiki.

AXIOM Beta developer kit hardware specifications:

  • “Linux” Board – Xilinx Zynq 7020 based MicroZed board
  • Beta Main Board – Hosts two external medium-speed shield connectors and two high-speed plugin module slot connectors.
  • Image Sensor – 12MP CMV12000 (Used for research and development) via CMV12K ZIF Sensor Board
  • Lens Mount Passive E-mount
  • Ports – USB / USB UART / JTAG / Gigabit Ethernet
  • Modules and Shields
    • Single HDMI Full HD (4:4:4) output at up to 60 FPS
    • Dual 6G SDI output (in development)
    • 3x PMOD debug module
    • LED matrix debug module
    • Genlock, Trigger, Timecode, LANC shields (in development)
    • 4K Displayport/HDMI (in development)
  • Power Supply – 5V/5A via power adapter board; Other voltages provided via Beta Power Board
  • Dimensions -111.76 x 74 x 65.1 mm (devkit)
  • Weight – 319 grams (devkit)

ESP8266 MAX7219 Dot Matrix Display

A MAX7219 driven Display, controlled by an ESP8266 SoC and MQTT

This project describes how to connect a MAX7219 to an ESP8266 Chip and let it act as a MQTT client. Its basically my ninHOME Node Firmware where you can optionally add a MAX7219 Display.

ESP8266 MAX7219 Dot Matrix Display – [Link]

Changing Hospital Waiting Rooms with RFID Technology

Engineers at Cornell university have created a new system for measuring vitals, which could revolutionize hospital experience for everybody. Usually, getting sick means having to go to the hospital which because of today´s procedures takes almost all your day (if not more), and most of the time is spent in waiting rooms. What if you could be “attended” while still in the waiting room? Because of RFID technology this is now possible with a device that can measure your vitals while you wait.

RFID (short for radio frequency identification) uses electromagnetic fields to track and identify tags attached to objects. Passive tags collect energy from a nearby RFID reader (they don’t require a battery) and can operate several meters away. The signal from the reader induces a small electric current enough to operate the CMOS of the tag.

This new system uses cheap sensor that don’t require their own power supplies, while the reader powers them and gathers data wirelessly. These tags are applied to the skin, and using radio waves they can measure blood pressure, breath rate, heart rate etc. The reader can gather data from hundreds of these tags at the same time, and they are cheap to produce. Nowadays, the price of the tags depends on memory, type of packaging and the volume of tags requested, but passive tags cost around 7 to 15 U.S cents.

As a result, not only waiting times could be shortened, but the work of many doctors and nurses could be lightened. Currently, monitoring vitals takes a lot of equipment which is expensive and big. With this new technology, big and not practical equipment will be no longer needed, and the work done by many devices will be done by a small sticker with the size of a finger or smaller.

In the beginning RFID had security issues because anyone could access the information on the tags, but nowadays security protocols have been implemented to encrypt and protect users data. This makes this device not only practical and affordable, but also safe and private.


DS18B20 Sensor Based Thermometer with Nokia 5110 LCD display

Hi guys welcome to this tutorial. Today we will be building a simple temperature monitor using the DS18B20 sensor with a Nokia 5110 LCD Display and an Arduino mega.

The DS18B20 digital temperature sensor gives a 9-bit to 12-bit Celsius temperature readings and also has an alarm function with nonvolatile user-programmable upper and lower trigger points. The sensor communicates via the 1-Wire communication protocol and thus by definition requires only one data line (and ground) for communication with a central microprocessor. Among the special features of this sensor, is an operational mode in which it can derive power directly from the data line (“parasite power”), eliminating the need for an external power supply line.

DS18B20 Sensor Based Thermometer with Nokia 5110 LCD display – [Link]