The MIPI Sensor Working Group, formed in 2013, defines a standardized sensor interface to unify a fragmented sensor industry. It is chartered to develop a flexible interface that enables interface compatibility between vendors’ sensor solutions; reuses existing interfaces when needed; provides value to adopters and sensor vendors; and can evolve to serve future sensor architectures and the market needs of the mobile, mobile-influenced and sensor industries, as well as complementary industries.
The MIPI Sensor Working Group was formed to address fundamental system design challenges caused by the proliferation of sensors in devices. High-tier smartphones, for example, can have 10 or more sensors, requiring 20 or more signals to perform a variety of functions, yet integration requirements can vary for each sensor. The resulting fragmentation caused by these numerous interfaces has complicated integration. Moreover, in addition to the main interface used for each sensor, additional signals might be required to enable interrupt functions, chip select, or sleep signals. These varied requirements can increase product development and integration costs, and stifle innovation. The industry needs a scalable, cost-effective solution for integrating sensors into all types of mobile, mobile-influenced and embedded systems applications.
The MIPI Sensor Working Group focuses on developing a standardized sensor interface. It works with stakeholders from across the mobile device and sensor ecosystems to make sure it covers the needs of the broadest possible market. It aims to define interface solutions that:
- bring the conveniences and benefits of interoperability to member companies
- reduce the cost of implementing sensors
- decrease signal count
- facilitate in-band interrupts
- enable in-band power savings commands
- lessen interface power consumption
The working group, with participation by vendors from across the sensor and mobile ecosystems, defined a new interface, named MIPI Specification for Improved Integrated Interface, or I3C. The interface was released to the market in late 2016 and incorporates key attributes of I2C, SPI and UART. It enables manufacturers to combine multiple sensors from different vendors in a device, ensures high-performance and low-power operation, and is practical for smartphones, tablets, wearables, toys, gaming devices, medical, industrial and other use cases.
The working group recognizes that the sensor industry is changing rapidly. The group will work continually to maintain and update the specification to ensure it is meeting the market’s evolving needs.
Ken Foust, Intel Corporation
Satwant Singh, Lattice Semiconductor
MIPI Alliance members at the Contributor level and above may participate by subscribing to the group on the member website.