Are you as amazed as your humble narrator by the ongoing development of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors and actuators?

Recently, I built a 12 x 12 array of ping pong balls, each illuminated with a tri-colored light-emitting diode (LED). Why? It seemed like a good idea at the time. When I was a kid, my parents gave me a toy involving a maze in a wooden box. By means of knobs mounted on the sides of the box, you could tilt the maze to guide a marble without it falling through one of many inconsiderately places holes.

I decided to replicate this concept with my ping pong ball array. For this, I needed an appropriate sensor. I opted for a BNO055 MEMS sensor from Bosch, which was conveniently presented on a small breakout board (BOB) from Adafruit (product #2472).

The BNO055 boasts a 3-axis accelerometer, a 3-axis gyroscope, and a 3-axis magnetometer, all in one teeny-tiny package. It also contains a 32-bit Arm Cortex-M0+ processor that performs sensor fusion for you.

It’s not so long ago that a regular electromechanical version of a 3-axis gyroscope for military use would have been the size of a small barrel and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. It boggles the mind that you can now get a MEMs version of this sensor, along with its accelerometer and magnetometer counterparts, all presented in one tiny package for just a couple of dollars. We truly do live in interesting times.