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50 Fastest Growing Companies of The Year 2017

A leading global supplier of software, components and intellectual property to enable the intelligent use of sensors in consumer electronics and IoT devices: Hillcrest Labs

thesiliconreview-dan-simpkins-ceo-hillcrest-labs-17Hillcrest was outset in 2001 by Dan Simpkins (CEO/Founder), Headquartered at 15245 Rockville, MD United States. Hillcrest’s Freespace sensor processing technology has powered advanced motion controllers in a wide variety of products including Smart TV’s, set-top boxes, PC’s, and game consoles.  Today, Hillcrest’s products are used in the development of devices in the virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), robotics, and TV and motion remote control segments. Our proprietary and patented Freespace technology transforms human and machine movement into high quality, application-ready information which enables developers and manufacturers to create everyday products that work with precision.

Foundation of Hillcrest labs

Hillcrest Labs, was set up with a vision of creating what is now known as Smart TV. Realizing the volume and sources of content were increasing to the point that users were struggling to navigate all that was available to them, Hillcrest set out to develop a new user interface (UI) which would empower the consumer to browse, select and consume more content more enjoyably. This was accomplished through the groundbreaking ‘HoME’ TV UI. In the development of this interface, which united TV, DVR, online content, games and more, it quickly became apparent that existing remote controls would not be sufficient to navigate this content.

Hillcrest set out to solve the problem and identify the best way to control this system, developing the multi-award winning Loop remote control as the ideal solution. Using MEMS inertial motion sensors to track intuitive user motions, Hillcrest translated them into precise on-screen cursor control, allowing familiar mouse-like functionality from a wireless remote control. While this led to the development of extensive and proprietary methods for sensor characterization, sensor qualification and sensor fusion, this revolutionary technology was inspired by, and grounded in, improving the user experience. This user-centric focus has shaped Hillcrest’s development to this day, producing dozens of products, custom solutions and successful engagements with some of the world’s leading consumer electronics companies. Today, tens of millions of units featuring Hillcrest’s technology are in consumers’ hands, living rooms and offices around the world.

Hillcrest product and services

Motion Engine Software

The Motion Engine software family brings Freespace® motion to millions of motion-enabled devices across a range of industries. It is available in several flavors of software, or combined with sensor hardware in our modules and white label products.


The BNO080 is a 9-axis System in Package (SiP) which enables rapid development of sensor-enabled Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Robotics and IoT devices. Co-developed by Bosch and Hillcrest Labs, it features a high-performance accelerometer, magnetometer, and gyroscope with a low-power 32-bit ARM Cortex M0+ MCU in a small package. Hillcrest’s Freespace sensor hub software pre-integrated on the BNO080 provides exceptional 9-Axis and 6-Axis motion tracking to enable exciting sensor applications in diverse consumer and IoT products. 

FSM-9 Modules

The FSM-9 is a high performance fully calibrated 9-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) / attitude heading reference system (AHRS). It includes a tri-axial accelerometer, a tri-axial gyroscope, a tri-axial magnetometer and a 32-bit MCU in a rugged enclosure. By fusing the output of these sensors with the onboard Freespace Motion Engine software, the FSM-9 provides precise real-time 3D orientation, heading, calibrated acceleration and calibrated angular velocity, as well as more advanced outputs such as cursor. The 9-axis motion output is unmatched in performance at any price point and is ideal for use in HMDs, Virtual Reality systems, and a variety of other applications.

Consulting services are provided exclusively to partners and customers as a value-added service, and support their development efforts through:

Accelerating Time to Market – including integrated motion in dozens of products, we can quickly diagnose, troubleshoot and overcome common obstacles encountered in the development process.

Product Testing and Optimization – our experienced team can provide feedback and suggestions to improve core system design factors such as latency, precision and accuracy.

Sensor Selection Consultation – our rigorous and unique sensor qualification program allows us to share insights which ensure customers select the best value sensor for their specific product and application.

User Interface Improvement – as experts in motion enabled natural user interfaces (NUIs), we can offer improvements to the design of NUIs.

Expertise and consulting are offered in a number of areas of motion integration including:

Hardware Design – improving ergonomics and usability of motion-enabled remote controls and other devices.

Motion System Optimization – improving latency, accuracy, cursor control, sensor calibration and more.

User Interface Consultation – developing motion controlled user interfaces, menu systems and content screens on a variety of devices.

Application Design and Development – building apps which provide immersive and valuable user experiences.

Meet the wit

Dan Simpkins, Founder and CEO: Dan’s creativity and vision have shaped his career and defined his companies. Relentlessly entrepreneurial, he is currently CEO of Hillcrest Labs, a company he founded in 2001 to reinvent the TV user experience and which created what is now known as “Smart TV”. He has led its growth to become the leading global supplier of software, hardware, and intellectual property for sensor-enabled products. Previously, Dan founded SALIX Technologies in 1990, and over the course of a decade led the company from inception to acquisition by Tellabs, Inc. for $300 million. Dan has been issued more than 20 U.S. patents, sits on the board of private company Public Relay and is an active advisor to an investor in several early stage companies. He currently serves on the administrative board of the Cornell University Council, is a member of the Engineering College Council and is a former executive in residence for global VC leader New Enterprise Associates (NEA). Dan earned a Bachelor of Science degree with distinction in Electrical Engineering and Master of Engineering degree (in EE) from Cornell University.

“Our unique perspective on motion and the user experience has led to numerous successful mass market implementations with some of the world’s leading consumer electronics companies”.