This Simple Chip Could Turn All Your Clothes Into Activity Trackers

By Jamie Condliffe on at

These little chips may not look much, but in fact they're a new breed of super-small, super-cheap accelerometers that could make motion sensing ubiquitous — even in the clothes you wear.

The chips, made by mCube, measure just a couple of millimetres across; that's less than half the size of most accelerometer chips. Perhaps most importantly, though, they're more power efficient and cheap, too. That's because they integrate the mechanical device for detecting movement and circuitry that processes the signals into a single chip.

Combining the two parts on a single chip also makes them incredibly accurate by providing a cleaner signal. In fact, mCube reckons the dinky little device is so accurate it could replace the gyroscope in a smartphone; it could bring motion sensing to even the cheapest of phones.

With 70 million of these little chips shopping to electronics manufacturers in China, it seems likely they could make motion sensing a ubiquitous feature on any device you pick up. Or, as mCube hopes for the long-term, integration into clothing.

"You could embed it into your clothing so that you don't even know it's there," explained mCube CEO Ben Lee to Technology Review. "You could put them in your golf shirt and trousers, so immediately after you swing you can get an analysis on your smartphone."

Hopefully not limited to golf, the chips could be used to replace your FitBit or measure the movement of balls around even the most humble of sports pitches. It will need some clever power solution, certainly — but it seems the motion sensing technology is at least already sorted. [mCube via Technology Review]