Recent reports indicate that--in addition to a much-needed graphical overhaul--Google's upcoming Android "Gingerbread" build (v2.3) will also include several new sensor fusion APIs including quarternion, rotation matrix, linear acceleration and gravity. This means developers will be able to fully utilize the device's gyroscope in conjunction with the magnetometer (compass) and accelerometer, allowing for full 1:1 motion processing.
The new multi-sensor technology will be supplied by InvenSense, the company behind the MEMS sensor found in Nintendo's Wii MotionPlus controller. This will open the door to all new types of possibilities in Android applications like gaming, augmented reality, navigation, image stabilization, and even in the user interface.
As seen in the Google TechTalks video below (shot back in August), David Sachs provides a few visual examples, the first of which was a virtual sword that followed the movement of a modified Nexus One. The next demo was a Descent-like flight sim game with the "player" sitting in the cockpit of a ship flying through rotating tunnel. Using the phone, Sachs could steer left and right, move up and down, and even fly upside down by merely moving the phone. The technology even allowed him to launch an application by drawing in the air.
It's highly likely that Gingerbread will actually support InvenSense's just-announced MPU-6000, the world's first microprocessor with integrated 3-axis gyroscope, 3-axis accelerometer, and an on-board Digital Motion Processor capable of processing 9-axis sensor fusion algorithms. During the Google TechTalk presentation, Sachs admitted that they had to rip out some of the Nexus One components in order to add the necessary hardware for the demo. The new MPU-6000 solves the space issue by combining the 3-axis gyroscope and a 3-axis accelerometer on the same silicon die.
"The MPU-6000 family of MotionProcessors eliminates the challenges associated with selection and integration of many different motion sensors that could require signal conditioning, sensor fusion and factory calibration," the company said.
To see InvenSense's technology at work, watch the video below. The demos don't appear until sometime around the 3:30 mark.