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MVN Biomech Xsens’ new MVN Biomech system uses MEMS technology to make motion capture accessible for research and industry. The system tracks human motion in 3D and caters to a variety of applications including ergonomics, human machine interaction, biomechanical analysis, rehabilitation, wearables development and sports science. The hardware is combined with MVN Studio Biomech software which adds to the accuracy of the system, as well as visualising 3D human motion in real time. One of the key benefits of this system is that it is lightweight and portable, fitting into an average sized backpack. The simplicity of set up makes it suitable for non lab-based applications, such as reducing injury on a factory production line where RSI is a risk. It can also be used to optimise the movement of athletes to improve performance. Daniel Dinu of the National Institute of Sport in France, said of the new system, “The evaluation of an athlete’s performance is one of the main issues for coaching and biomechanical analysis in sports. The MVN Biomech system with its wearable, lightweight sensors allows me to conduct my basketball, shot-put and tennis research anywhere, without constraining athlete’s activities. It provides fast visualisation of motion patterns and feedback, without any need for post-processing, and delivers accurate and proven data.” MEMS in the future The number of applications for MEMS technology is rising. Having started in the military, MEMS sensors are now used in a wide variety of consumer electronics, medical and, industrial applications. In the future, it is likely we will see MEMS technology used more and more in the consumer market, for example in novel single-function wearables next to broad consumer applications like smartphones. The much wider use of autonomous systems, like robotics and drones that rely on a great degree of autonomy and intelligence will be powered by MEMS motion tracking systems that need to deliver accurate data under all circumstances. These robots will take over many mundane tasks from humans (for example, vacuum cleaning) but will also enable new exciting possibilities such as remote telepresence. MEMS sensors are already energy efficient but I anticipate that the efficiency is set to increase enough to make use of energy harvesting possible. Energy harvesting would allow MEMS sensors to operate fully autonomously without a power source like a battery, opening up options for battery-less operation in future applications. And of course, MEMs sensors will become even smaller, lighter and fully integrated. Eventually, we will see a full motion tracker on a chip. This could be realised within 5 years, or even sooner as consumer demand can cause jumps in progress. Fraunhofer develops MEMS optical grating for medium infrared TBy Peter Clarke he Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS is developing a scanning grating spectrometer that operates in the medium infrared range from 3-microns to 12 microns wavelength. Many chemical substances that are significant for security monitoring have characteristic absorption lines in this region Therefore the motivation for the research is to create a compact mobile sensor that can quickly detect and quantify these materials. Fraunhofer is working with 17 other companies in the MIRIFISENS project to help achieve this. The project began in September 2012 and runs for 42 months. The total budget is €12.6 million (about $14.6 million), of which the European taxpayer will provide €8.6 million (about $10 million). At the core of the MIRIFISENS project – Mid Infrared Innovative Lasers for Improved Sensing of Hazardous Substances – is a miniaturized quantum cascade laser (QCL), which is being developed by researchers of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF in Freiburg. The QCL covers a large range of the wavelengths that are important for the spectroscopic fingerprint in the medium infrared range. To set the light of the QCL to the defined wavelengths, scientists at Fraunhofer IPMS developed a highly reflective diffraction grating acts as the quantum cascade laser’s variable frequency external resonator. It allows for the tuning of laser wavelengths with a frequency of 1000 Hz, with a variable frequency range of up to 20 percent of the central wavelength. “Electrostatically-driven MEMS grating mirrors are much more compact than galvanometer scanners, make almost no sound and allow for very high scanning frequencies due to their low weight. In combination with miniaturized laser sources, they are ideal for integration into mobile handy sensor systems, simple measurements on location and for integration into industrial measurement technology at production and processing facilities,” said Fraunhofer IPMS’ project manager Jan Grahmann. QCL module with integrated MEMS diffraction grating. Source Fraunhofer IAF. www.electronics-eetimes.com Electronic Engineering Times Europe February 2015 37


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