mCube buys Xsens for system-level expertise

November 20, 2017 // By Peter Clarke
Fabless inertial sensor company mCube Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) has acquired Xsens Technologies BV (Enschade, The Netherlands) from On Semiconductor for $26 million in cash.

Xsens was originally founded in 2000 as a spin of the University of Twente and has developed an expertise in inertial sensor fusion software. It has moved on to develop 3D motion tracking products for use in consumer devices and professional applications such as 3D character animation, motion analysis, and industrial control and stabilization.

Ben Lee, CEO of mCube, told eeNews Europe that his company has raised additional equity capital to fund the deal. He said the deal made sense for mCube as it will provide his company with world-class sensor fusion software, system-level expertise and use-case knowledge. This will be useful as mCube decides what sensor platforms to create as it continues its growth path from smartphones and wearables to include applications in the Internet of Moving Things (IoMT) and industrial and medical applications. 

Lee said that Xsens, which has about 70 employees, will be operated as a wholly-owned subsidiary of mCube out of Enschede. Xsens, which says subsytems and modules based on its software and third-party hardware, would remain free to design around mCube inertial sensors or those of third parties.

Since its formation in 2009 mCube has been a supplier of very small accelerometers and other inertial sensors, based on its monolithic approach to MEMS creation. mCube has pioneered a method of bonding MEMS components to CMOS wafers to remove the need for space-demanding wire bonds. A through silicon via (TSV) makes connection to the MEMS and the highly compact until is sealed with another silicon wafer.

As a result, mCube has consistently produced smaller tri-axis accelerometers that are smaller than those of its competition. The MC3672 measures just 1.1mm by 1.3mm by 0.74mm.

Xsens was acquired by Fairchild Semiconductor International in March 2014 for approximately $60 million. Fairchild was subsequently acquired by On Semiconductor in September 2016 for about $2.4 billion.

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