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Bosch Sensortec at Munich Electronica 2014

When I was having a chat with one of my colleagues with whom we shared the booth at electronica, I saw a young gentleman with a companion moving our demonstration board frantically, whilst fumbling with the connector cable erratically, to see an animated blue shark moving in synch with the board. For a split second, I had the urge to call security, but then my gaze went from the moving demonstration board to his eyes which were something of a kid looking at an airplane for the first time. Though it might sound a bit exaggerated, so it was to see the reaction of this excited Techie.

I moved gently towards them and asked whether I could be of any help. The reply came after some delay (unlike the output of our fusion algorithm), but it was rather different from all the visitors we had at our booth since the beginning of that week. ‘I would like to have this BNO055 shuttle board, can I purchase it now?’ asked the young man. His companion and I were both perplexed with this question and I stuttered in surprise to collect my words.

Now for those who are reading this blog, wondering what the BNO055 is and what Bosch Sensortec has got to offer a techie who makes drones as a hobby – Bosch Sensortec, a leading manufacturer of MEMS sensors for the consumer electronic devices such as smart phones, tablets and consumer game controllers had introduced a new sensor, BNO055 to its ASSN sensor family to complement its large sensor portfolio. The sensor which has an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer and a microcontroller with integrated sensor fusion software is targeted mainly for the IoT, wearables and the robotics market.

Since the sensor comes with an integrated sensor fusion software, the OEM’s who until now had either developed the sensor fusion algorithm themselves or made licensing agreements with sensor or software vendors, can now focus on building world class products to enrich the end customer experience. And as for the hobbyists (makers) who neither have the resources nor the intimate knowledge of the sensors being fused, can now spend their valuable time in building cool, mindboggling applications rather than trying to understand the sensors.

The gentleman in his mid 20’s who was still waiting for my response to his question at our booth in electronica, realized that he had neither introduced himself nor explained what he was looking for, apologetically started elaborating all about his drone project which he works in his spare time, the challenges he faces to stabilize the drone in mid-air, his disappointment in the sensors currently available on the market, his unsuccessful attempts in writing the sensor fusion algorithm himself and so on.

Since it was the last day of electronica, the day for students and hobbyists, more people started gathering at our booth to listen to the animated speech of this gentleman who showed his companion, the blue shark demo which moved with hardly any latency in synch with the BNO055 shuttle board. Eventually more people started asking him the questions, leaving me behind as a mere spectator! Although he did ‘an unplanned’ peer-to-peer marketing for BNO055 at our booth, I had to disappoint him by saying that the board is not for sale. With a heavy sigh he left our booth, leaving me to mentally craft a blog with this unexpected turn of events!

30 comments on “Bosch Sensortec at Munich Electronica 2014

  1. samicksha
    November 27, 2014

    Bosch has managed the MEMS sensor market very strongly and not only this, Bosch Sensortec has been good at accelerometer market for smartphones .

  2. chirshadblog
    November 27, 2014

    @samicksha: Wow Bosch into Smart Phones ? Never knew that 

  3. samicksha
    November 28, 2014

    According to IHS, Bosch Sensortec was supplying accelerometers into the Apple iPhone 5s and 5c, and the Apple iPad Air. Similarly, Bosch Sensortec was the top supplier of pressure sensors for Samsung handsets and tablets, and it has started mass production of 6-axis inertial measurement units (IMU) for accelerometers and gyroscopes in a combo package to Sony, Samsung and HTC.

    Source: EETimes

  4. Victor Lorenzo
    November 29, 2014

    From BOSCH's own Shuttleboard document it seems an extremely simple and cheap board. It is not the case for the Flyer Application Board 2.0 base board. The BNO055 itself has a relatively high price (9.51€/unit in Mouser).

    p.d. (sorry, URLs were banned)

  5. dassa.an
    November 29, 2014

    @Victor: I guess its purely because of its brand name and quality. 

  6. yalanand
    November 29, 2014

    Bosch into Smart Phones ? Never knew that

    @chirshadblog, yes infact ARM mobile phone and iPad design wins helped Bosch become the top manufacturer of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors and actuators in 2013.

  7. Victor Lorenzo
    November 29, 2014

    @dassa.an, I have several Freedom boards from Freescale and several Arduinos laying over my desk and my bench. These boards are great tools for fast prototyping and evaluating many types of sensors and actuators. I use them on a regular basis, not only for hobby but mostly for professional taks. I got most freedom boards for FREE from Freescale and I integrate several Kinetis MCUs into my designs.

    My point is, the easier it is for designers to gain access to evaluation boards and support the higher the possibility they will end integrating those products into new designs.

    Some times I found so many difficulties to gain access to an evaluation board (contact the manufacturer, describe in details the product I was designing, find a distributor, pass a “customer evaluation process”, etc.) that I simply decided to change direction and say “just forget it, your competitor X has given me all the information I needed so I decided to work with them”.

     

  8. yalanand
    November 29, 2014

    The sensor which has an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer and a microcontroller with integrated sensor fusion software is targeted mainly for the IoT, wearables and the robotics market.

    @Divya, thanks for introducing all of us to BNO055. Embedding sensor fusion software will definitely help developers. I am curious to know when this product will be available for developers?

  9. yalanand
    November 29, 2014

     I simply decided to change direction and say “just forget it, your competitor X has given me all the information I needed so I decided to work with them


    @Victor, thanks for sharing your experience. I am curious to know if this strategy worked for you all the time ? Did you face limitation because you were choosing boards based on availability.

  10. Victor Lorenzo
    November 29, 2014

    @yalanand, No it is not a strategy for small companies, and in fact big ones seldom need to call twice. It was more like an escape route when time was running out and going for the “second best choice” was indeed the “best choice”.

    I've faced limitations mostly while trying to integrate specific solutions oriented for big volume customers and, as a consequence, lacking support for small customers.

    In the field of Sub-GHz communication interfaces I prefer to go directly to solutions with evaluation boards readily available. It saves a lot of time, efforts and frustration.

    Some times I prepare what I call a “Frankestein Mockup” as part of the proof of concept. That way you can partly overlap the integration, HW design and software development phases.

     

  11. samicksha
    November 29, 2014

    I heard about recent devolopment from Bosch Sensortec, application designed for mobile, the BMP280 digital absolute barometric pressure sensor. Although i am not sure but i want to learn how effective it will be with GPS.

  12. SunitaT
    November 30, 2014

    I heard about recent devolopment from Bosch Sensortec, application designed for mobile, the BMP280 digital absolute barometric pressure sensor.

    @samicksha, thanks for sharing this latest development news. What new features are added to BMP280 compared to its predecessor BMP180 ?

  13. samicksha
    November 30, 2014

    I am not much aware of new features, this is even new for me but yes what i understand is that enhancement of GPS navigation.

  14. geek
    November 30, 2014

    “According to IHS, Bosch Sensortec was supplying accelerometers into the Apple iPhone 5s and 5c, and the Apple iPad Air.”

    @samicksha: Thank you for providing this information. I had no idea Bosch sensors had become that popular and were being used in leading Apple devices. I think Bosch should do a better job of marketing itself so that it gains more popularity. A lot of people know about Qualcomm chipsets being used in devices because the company markets itself quite well on this.

  15. geek
    November 30, 2014

    “Some times I found so many difficulties to gain access to an evaluation board (contact the manufacturer, describe in details the product I was designing, find a distributor, pass a “customer evaluation process”, etc.) that I simply decided to change direction and say “just forget it, your competitor X has given me all the information I needed so I decided to work with them”.”

    @victor: I think that's because most companies don't have a direct link with circuit designers and users of evaluation boards. They are in touch with commercial users who'd use the production ones but they have not been able to establish a direct link with designers and approach them in a different way. This is very important because the designer will decide which boards will be used in production and their involvement is critical.

  16. goafrit2
    November 30, 2014

    >> Bosch into Smart Phones ? Never knew that

    Bosch makes MEMs gyroscope and XL that we find in phones and tablets. Nevertheless, STMicroelectronics is the leader in this sector especially in the consumer electronics market. Bosch does well in the automotive market.

  17. fasmicro
    November 30, 2014

    Bosch remains an elegant innovator in many areas. From security to to inertial sensors and many things inside automobiles, Bosch, a non-profit as incorporated in Germany is leading its peers. The fact it is private is helping it in this era of short-term business engineering. 

  18. chirshadblog
    November 30, 2014

    @fasmicro: Well its good to see good brand names coming into play and supporting the developments. Lets hope it will remain the same

  19. dassa.an
    November 30, 2014

    @gofairt: Well they have been flexible with their business itself in the recent past. That is what have made them stay at the top of the market or at least within the top range. 

  20. divyathukkaram
    December 1, 2014

    @ yalanand

    I appreciate your interest in our sensor.

    BNO055 is already available in the market. Please check at one of the distributers from our website.

  21. fasmicro
    December 1, 2014

    >> Bosch has managed the MEMS sensor market very strongly and not only this, Bosch Sensortec has been good at accelerometer market for smartphones 

    I am very curious, can you share any smartphone with Bosch XL in it? I know they do a lot of work in the automotive market. For the consumer, I thought they have no presence there.

  22. fasmicro
    December 1, 2014

    >> According to IHS, Bosch Sensortec was supplying accelerometers into the Apple iPhone 5s and 5c, and the Apple iPad Air.

    That is interesting. You are very correct, Bosch supplied the XL in iPhone 5c (link not allowed).

    This sector is very competitive as anyone could imagine. I knew that ST Micro used to be the dominant factor in this business.

  23. fasmicro
    December 1, 2014

    >>  yes infact ARM mobile phone and iPad design wins helped Bosch become the top manufacturer of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors and actuators in 2013

    Bosch is a leader in MEMS but ST Microelectronics has been the top leader for many years. This shows that the competition is very robust and fluid. I will expect the price of these MEMS products to drive some of the weaker competitors out of the market place.

  24. goafrit2
    December 1, 2014

    >> that I simply decided to change direction and say “just forget it, your competitor X has given me all the information I needed so I decided to work with them”.

    Electronic design is one area we do not see a lot of innovation in customer support shown with software Silicon Valley companies. It is still very tough to get hardware support from big companies when you are small or a hobbyist. I do not blame them because that is cost they cannot afford to carry.

  25. goafrit2
    December 1, 2014

    >>  Did you face limitation because you were choosing boards based on availability.

    It is never the best strategy in electronics. I consider BRAND as #1 factor along with specification. You need to understand that if you just focus on availability, you may end up using companies that go out of business soon. Most of the boards I made in college are waste because the key company that provided the processor Parallax/UBICOM is out of business making SX48 chips.

  26. goafrit2
    December 1, 2014

    >> I think Bosch should do a better job of marketing itself so that it gains more popularity.

    Bosch is a foundation/charity and may not need that pressure. The good news for Bosch is that by being private it can think long-term without the problems associated with quarterly earnings.

  27. Victor Lorenzo
    December 2, 2014

    Many big companies have moved from FAE (field applications engineer) based to community based customer support schemes. Some time ago it was possible to have direct contact with a FAE for solving specific issues or problems but that is moving now to kind of a reserved service for big customers.

    Of course, it is more economically attractive to have a small team of very skilled engineers and make them externally visible and accessible via online communities.

    In some support communities I've been part of (as a customer), like TI's e2e community and Freescale's community, you ask your questions and get answers from other experienced (and not so too) developers and also from some 'official' support engineers. Freescale provides an alternative online Service Request support scheme for registered users which has been acceptably efficient and effective in solving issues when I've asked them.

    Some other products, like AVR microcontrollers, have gained such a huge popularity that I have the feeling that support from hobby communities is often faster and even better than the official manufacturer's support service. (Please, take it as a feeling, not as a statement, a complaint or a negative oppinion).

  28. fasmicro
    December 2, 2014

    >> Some other products, like AVR microcontrollers, have gained such a huge popularity that I have the feeling that support from hobby communities is often faster and even better than the official manufacturer's support service. 

    That is true for hardware just as it is true for software. I do not think I get a lot of help from software companies on their products directly from them. There are many online communities that depend on ads to simplify the use of many products.

  29. Davidled
    December 7, 2014

    It could be imaged that Bosch Sensotec presents a variety of sensor. But not all customers could be satisfied by current sensor technology. For a specific project, they need to discuss with sensor engineer who might design the customized sensor for their project with collaboration. 

  30. Davidled
    December 8, 2014

    Bosh is one of top supplies in the automotive industry. They are expert of making the sensor as well as powetrain module. Now, it is interesting that they provide all kind of sensor to smart phone. I am afraid that Company might have a monopoly power for the sensor market.

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