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Bosch Sensortec IMU: enabling accurate real-time augmented reality

One only needs to look around to notice that the world is monumentally and incessantly changing right around us, with changes seemingly appearing every other day. People everywhere are preoccupied with their smart devices, whether it be with their smartphones, tablets, navigation devices, digital cameras or various combinations thereof. Staying in touch on social media, chatting, messaging, calling, playing games, reading articles, e-books or paying the bills, it's done on the go; walking in the street or sitting in the park, while shopping, jogging, or walking the dog. Our world is inextricably turning truly semi-virtual.

A great example of this is a new mobile app that has taken the world by storm: Pokémon GO, which became the top grossing game within 24 hours of its release, was downloaded more than 7.5 million times within the first week, and quickly added billions of dollars to Nintendo's market cap. The game has swept across the globe from Perth, Australia to Reykjavik, Iceland, as people have become hooked on searching for virtual pocket monsters in an augmented reality environment, with the game being superimposed in real-time on to the world around them. Pokémons can be anywhere, and people of all ages are hooked on catching these little monsters!

This worldwide phenomenon would not have been possible without some amazing technology under the hood: the micro-electro-mechanical-systems (MEMS) sensors all hidden inside our modern compact devices. This is where Bosch Sensortec comes into the picture: for augmented reality to function smoothly and realistically, the mobile device requires a powerful Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) consisting of an accelerometer and a gyroscope. Firstly, the gyroscope is responsible for tracking the three-axial rotation of the device in real-time, which requires an extremely fast response time to avoid delays, or so-called latency. Secondly, rapid sensor data fusion is essential, meaning that data needs to be processed in real-time, free of any delays or freezes in order to ensure a dynamic augmented reality experience of exceptional precision and clarity. It goes without saying that the low power consumption of the IMU enables Pokémon GO players to extend their play times so that they can “catch ‘em all”! Premature battery power loss could prove truly disastrous, resulting in unheard-of levels of player grief caused by devices dying on them mid-way! The combination of extreme accuracy, strong processing performance, and low power consumption makes the Bosch Sensortec IMU an indispensable part of modern mobile devices.

Of course, it does not stop there. From virtual reality to augmented reality, and back again, the world is awash with new applications: from 3D cinema headsets, to top-level sports training, to virtualized inventory management and virtual car showrooms, to instant sign translation for tourists, or interior design planning, to endless applications in advertising and promotion, all limited only by the human imagination. Bosch Sensortec is now an enabler of a new world, where dreams and ideas are "augmented" on to our environment to become the new exciting reality.

Read more about AR & VR

Learn more about Inertial Measurement Units