InvenSense is announcing today that it’s improved its gyroscope chips so they can be used in much more accurate motion-sensing game controllers.
The development means that this ultra-small gryoscope will be a contender in shaping next-generation consumer electronics appliances such as game consoles, TV remotes, and other motion-sensing applications.
The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company already makes the gyroscope chips used in the new Wii MotionPlus accessory for the Nintendo Wii. Nintendo is launching the accessory, which attaches to a Wii controller, for $19.99 on June 8. The InvenSense chips in the Wii MotionPlus enable the device to detect new types of motion. Right now, the Wii controller can detect acceleration. But the Wii MotionPlus can detect a forward thrust or the twist of the wrist.
With its two new products, InvenSense says it can detect motion on all six axes of motion — up, down, left, right, forward and back. That will enable even more accurate motion-sensing in future game control products.
The company keeps trying to bring down the cost of the gyroscopes, which as a rule are more expensive than the accelerometers that help the Wii controller detect acceleration. The gyroscopes are built into chips based on micro-electromechanical sensors, which are essentially tiny mechanical machines on silicon. InvenSense is targeting both game controllers and TV remotes. Product samples will be available in July.
The InvenSense technology competes with 3-D depth cameras, which use visual cues to detect movement. We’ve written frequently about next-generation game controls with even more accurate camera-based sensors made by companies like 3DV Systems, PrimeSense, Canesta and others. Sixense has also been working on a magnet-based technology that does something similar.
InvenSense now has more than 100 employees. Its investors include Partech International, Docomo Capital, Foxconn, Skylight Ventures, Sierra Ventures and Qualcomm Ventures. The company has raised more than $38 million to date.