First, let us apologize for the product name; it’s hard to describe everything this sensor can do. The VR IMU uses the impressive BNO080 IMU. This IC has a combination triple axis accelerometer/gyro/magnetometer packaged with an ARM Cortex M0+ running powerful algorithms. The BNO080 Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) produces accurate rotation vector headings, excellently suited for VR and other heading applications with a static rotation error of 2 degrees or less. It’s what we’ve been waiting for: all the sensor data is combined and drift corrected into meaningful, accurate IMU information.
This IC was designed to be implemented in Android based cellular phones to handle all the computations necessary for virtual reality goggles using only your phone. The sensor is quite powerful and with power comes a complex interface. We’ve written an I2C based library that provides the rotation vector (the reading most folks want from an IMU) as well as acceleration, gyro, and magnetometer readings, step counting, activity classifier (such as riding a bike), and calibration.
The VR IMU uses two Qwiic connectors. Qwiic cables are thin and flexible allowing you to manipulate the IMU in space unimpeded. This is especially handy when moving or calibrating the sensor. We’ve created a demo Processing app to see how the movement of the IMU can accurately manipulate a 3D object using the Quaternion output from the IMU.
There are jumpers on the board allowing the user to select between two different I2C addresses, remove the I2C pull up resistors, and select between the three different interface protocols. If I2C is not your first communication choice the sensor is capable of communicating over SPI and UART as well! If you’re using the UART we recommend the Serial Basic for an easy connection.
This version incorporates an on-board 32kHz crystal for increased precision and more accurate time stamps.
Check the documents section for a link to our Arduino library!
We do not plan to regularly produce SparkX products so get them while they’re hot!
The BNO080 can communicate through a variety of interfaces. The Qwiic VR IMU has two jumpers that allows the user to select their interface of choice.
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I’ve tried one of the other 9DOF’s. The sensor integration math is fascinating. But if you want to do your own software, despite lots of sample code to draw from, I’ve found that there were a whole bunch of details, and quite a bit of “art” in getting all the calibration, sampling, filtering and coordinate systems just right to get really good performance in my particular application. What you are really buying with this board is the built-in software, and you are saving a whole lot of your time.
Within minutes I was getting useable orientation and acceleration data into a Teensy 3.5 (which is now probably overkill since most of the intense processing is done by the IMU). The library and example code are quite good, and I didn’t even have to plug in my soldering iron thanks to the Qwiic cable.
The most glaring deficiency is that the library doesn’t seem to support the linear accelerometer function of the device which provides accelerometer data minus gravity. This is pretty useful for navigation and I request it be added as a pretty high priority.