ST new sensors incorporate embedded AI

  • June 28, 2022
  • William Payne

STMicroelectronics has launched inertial modules that enable AI training inside the sensor. The on-chip signal processing core, programmable with ST’s NanoEdge AI Studio, is designed for embedded machine-learning applications.

ST describes the intelligent sensor processing units (ISPU) inside new inertial sensors as moving intelligence from ‘”on” the edge to “in” the edge’.

The ISM330ISN is an always-on 6-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) for movement and position sensing. It employs embedded intelligence to increase the performance and accuracy it delivers. ST’s intelligent new IMU is designed to accelerate response time and extend battery life in equipment such as condition monitors for predictive maintenance, as well as battery-operated asset trackers and industrial applications such as robots.

The intelligence built into the ISM330ISN enables smart devices to perform advanced motion-detection functions in the sensor without interaction with the external microcontroller (MCU), saving power at system level.

ST’s approach integrates a specialised processor, the ISPU, in a small area directly on the sensor chip, optimised for machine-learning applications. This enables the ISM330ISN module to have a 50% smaller footprint and consume 50% less power than a typical co-packaged MCU.

Developers can program the ISPU using ST’s NanoEdge AI Studio, an ST tool that many customers have used to deploy AI applications on STM32 microcontrollers. This technology is now available for programming the ISPU, enabling users to generate automatically optimised machine-learning libraries.

According to ST, designing an anomaly detection library with AI learning capability directly inside the ISPU is possible with minimal data and just a few clicks, with no specific data-science skills are needed.

“Intelligence formerly implemented at the network edge, in an application processor, is now moving to the deep edge, inside the sensor,” said Simone Ferri, General Manager of Marketing, Analog MEMS and Sensors Group, STMicroelectronics. “Our ISM330ISN IMU heralds a new category of smart sensors, leveraging embedded AI to handle complex operations such as pattern recognition and anomaly detection with greatly increased efficiency and performance.”

The ISM330ISN has the same 3mm x 2.5mm x 0.83mm package outline as conventional inertial modules, allowing designers to upgrade their products without having to change an established circuit board layout.