Foresight Williams has recently invested into Zero Point Motion Limited, an early-stage semiconductor company that is developing a chip-scale inertial measurement unit for ultra-precise motion-tracking and indoor navigation.
The Company was founded in 2020 by Ying Lia Li (Lia), an award-winning physicist. Initially developed to detect collisions for airbag deployment, IMUs enable electronic devices to monitor their relative position, motion and acceleration.
Matthew Burke, Head of Technology Ventures, Williams Advanced Engineering, said: “We are delighted to back Zero Point Motion in the commercialization of its high accuracy low-cost IMU technology. IMUs are used in many of the sectors WAE operates in, and we look forward to accessing our customer network to support the IMU commercialization program”
Ying Lia Li, Founder & CEO, Zero Point Motion, commented: “The UK has a fantastic legacy in producing defense grade inertial sensors and strong expertise in commercializing optical devices and we’re excited to combine these capabilities to bring higher performance navigation to industrial and consumer markets. We’re ambitious to scale to high volume and transform motion capture, stabilize AR/VR and other image-based systems, and increase the integrity of sensor fusion to enable indoor and autonomous navigation”
Today, these devices, based on Micro Electromechanical Systems (“MEMS”), are mass-produced at low cost and embedded in a wide range of industrial and consumer electronics including smartphones, cameras, health wearables and IOT devices. Their ubiquity has resulted in annual market size of approximately $15bn, growing at c.10% p.a.
IMUs used in consumer electronics are low-cost and compact but are relatively inaccurate and suffer from excessive ‘drift’. To overcome this issue many devices, rely on multiple data sources to pinpoint their position – “sensor fusion” – however, this technique increases cost and energy consumption.
Conversely, high-precision IMUs, currently used in the defense and aerospace sector, are bulky and cost tens of thousands of pounds, making them unfeasible for mass-market applications.
In addition to expanding its team, which will be based at Bristol University’s state-of-the-art Quantum Technologies Innovation Centre, this initial round of funding will enable the Company to create engineering samples to be assessed by initial customers and designed into their products, with a view to commercial sales commencing in 2024.