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3-D Imaging Chip Has Broad Potential

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SCHAUMBURG, Ill., Dec. 9 -- A collaborative effort among Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Media Lab's Center for Bits and Atoms and Elesys North America has resulted in the development of an electric-field imaging chip from Motorola that enables contactless sensing and imaging of low-level electric fields for a variety of systems and products, from automobile airbag controllers to wheelchairs.

Motorola said the uses for electric-field imaging are vast, but until recently they have been restricted by the difficulty in implementing practical systems.

"Nearly every object encountered in daily life contains charged atoms that can move in an electric field," the company said in a statement. "The charge can be sensed and three-dimensionally imaged showing how one object relates to another object or to its environment. This information can be used to trigger functions such as turning switches on or off, disabling features, or setting off alarms to indicate dangerous situations."

Elesys (formerly NEC Technologies Automotive Electronics Division), a producer of automotive electronic safety systems, is using Motorola's MC33794 electric field imaging chip in its SeatSentry occupant protection system. This system uses low-level electric fields to detect a passenger's head and proximity to the side airbag, then stops airbag deployment if the passenger's head is determined to be too close to the airbag. The SeatSentry system is currently installed in all Honda and Acura vehicles with side airbags.

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Dec 2003
1. A localized fracture at the end of a cleaved optical fiber or on a glass surface. 2. An integrated circuit.
Automobile SafetychipE-Fieldelectric fieldElesysimagingMITMotorolaNews & Featuressemiconductors

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