Barometric sensor targets drones and fitness apps

Louise Smyth

Bosch Sensortec has launched a barometric pressure sensor measuring just 2.0 x 2.0 x 0.75mm³.

The BMP380 is aimed at the growing markets of gaming, sports and health management, as well as indoor and outdoor navigation.

By measuring barometric pressure, the sensor enables drones, smartphones, tablets, wearables and other mobile devices to accurately determine altitude changes, in both indoor and outdoor environments.

Typical applications for the BMP380 include altitude stabilisation in drones, where altitude information is utilised to improve flight stability and landing accuracy. This simplifies drone steering, thereby making drones attractive for a broader range of users.

The BMP380 can also substantially improve calorie expenditure measurement accuracy in wearables and mobile devices, for example by identifying whether a person is walking upstairs or downstairs in a step tracking application.

Especially in hilly environments, this allows runners and cyclists to significantly improve the monitoring accuracy of their performance. In smartphones, tablets and wearables, the sensor brings more precision to navigation and localisation applications by using altitude data to determine the user's floor level in a building, and enhancing GPS accuracy outdoors.

Pressure and temperature data can be stored in the built-in FIFO of 512 bytes. The new FIFO and interrupt functionality provide simple access to data and storage. This greatly improves ease of use while helping to reduce power consumption to only 2.7µA at 1Hz during full operation.

The sensor is more accurate than its predecessors, covering a wide measurement range from 300 hPA to 1250 hPA. Tests in real-life environments have verified a relative accuracy of +/-0.06 hPa (+/-0.5m) over a temperature range from 25°C to 40°C. The absolute accuracy between 300 and 1100 hPa is +/- 0.5 hPa over a temperature range from 0°C to 65°C.

The small package size of only 2.0 x 2.0 x 0.75 mm³ complies with new industry benchmarks and is more than one third smaller than the previous-generation BMP280.

"We are very excited about the opportunities that this sensor opens up for designers to further advance their products," says Jeanne Forget, Vice President Global Marketing at Bosch Sensortec. "Our product is unmatched in its scope, precision and footprint, and provides an improvement for outdoor localisation, thereby reducing our reliance on GPS signals.”

The sensor is made using the Bosch "Advanced Porous Silicon Membrane” (APSM) process and will be available for selected customers with the start of channel promotion in the 2nd quarter of 2017.