In a project that I am somehow involved these days, I needed to select a microcontroller for inertial data logging and processing. It has been a long time since I last programmed a microcontroller. Being somehow away from the hardware, I started to forget that I am actually an electrical engineer.
During my search for a better microcontroller, I have gladly noticed that microcontroller manufacturers have seriously started looking for an effective method to add inertial sensors among their standard interfaces.
It seems Atmel is currently leading in this field. They have already included a sensor library to their embedded framework. I quickly reviewed their code. In addition to standardizing the inertial sensor interface, they also try to introduce some high level sensor calibration interfaces. It seems they expect the sensor manufacturers to develop their own code compatible with Atmel’s high level library. Invense has already done that. Although I think that having some calibration interface for any embedded library is quite unnecessary, I do find their efforts worth to praise.
STM has also done some work in inertial (pseudo-navigation) field. It seems a small group is trying to develop some basic navigation functions for ST. The development board for their latest STM32F4 microcontroller has 3 accelerometers on it. Their “hello word” application is also using these accelerometers to turn on/off leds. I guess they are willing to promote their cheap (and also quite useless) inertial products via their famous STM32 family of microcontrollers. By the way their new STM32F4 family has floating point support which is great for any embedded navigation application. (They send free STM32F4 discovery kids to Canada and USA. If you are planning to deal with embedded programming any time soon, it can be a good opportunity to get a free development board from ST).
There is no news on the NXP side. Perhaps someday they will also consider adding some inertial flavor to their microcontrollers.