The panel also talked about some of the "stickiness" of MEMS. Sten Stockmann said: "In the past you had to make trade-offs between smaller size, lower power, and lower cost." But now, by learning from some of the mistakes of the semiconductor industry, as well as executing more simplified designs, MEMS can scale down with smaller size, lower power, lower cost -– leading to accelerated growth for the industry.
This is exemplified by Bosch –- it took 17 years for its first billion MEMS sensors; three years for its next billion (it announced reaching the 2B mark early in 2012). According to Melzer "it won't take another three years to get to the third billion."
What does the future hold for MEMS in consumer electronics? I asked each panelist to give me a one-word answer (only one actually stated ONE word, and it was the name of his company). But jokes aside, the main message was that just as the MEMS industry spans a myriad of industries and markets, the future of MEMS in consumer electronics will enable a myriad of functionality, applications, and personalization.
MEMS clearly earned the respect of the consumer electronics industry at 2012 CES; now it's up to us to continue to promote commercialization and drive innovation.
Sensors in Design Summit
Karen Lightman will be a track chair at the upcoming Sensors in Design conference, taking place March 28-29, 2012 in San Jose. Visit www.SensorsInDesign2012.com to learn more and to register.
The "massive personalization" aspect of consumer devices and the role MEMS can play in promoting that vision seems to be particularly interesting. While some of the aspects of personalization lend themselves to a "big brother" mentality, in my view, the idea that your device can serve up data and apps specific to your needs/tastes/interests/location is certainly compelling. Just so I understand it correctly, how specifically does implementation of MEMS drive the personalization scenario?
@Beth thank you very much for your comment on my blog. I like to think of MEMS as helping us live in a world of "big Mother" rather than "big Brother" (okay I admit that is not my original quote, I am re-quoting Forrester Research's Julie Ask). MEMS, by the nature of its smart sensing, can help a person in his/her daily life in an unobtrusive way - I point to the Quality of Life Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University - www.cmu.edu/qolt - which is leading the research and application of such technology. CMU's Dan Siewiorek, who spoke at MEMS Executive Congress 2010, was recently featured in an article in Medical Eletronics Design (http://www.medicalelectronicsdesign.com/article/quality-life-assurance) that speaks to how this can work and improve Quality of Life through "intelligent systems that take into account the abilities, needs, and intentions of the user."
@Karen: Thanks for the pointer to the work being done at CMU's Quality of Life Technology Center. I'll buy the right into the case that the right usage of MEMs can enable personalization in an unobtrusive way, especially if it's "big mother" watching over the process. I like that!
Those numbers you quote from Bosch were impressive, especially considering the second billion took only three years and the third billion will takes fewer than three years. What's particularly impressive is that this is only one vendor.
Rob, actually in regards to any micro device those numbers are not such a big deal. I learned recently that there are more transistors produced each year than letters printed (and copied, etc.). Think of that. A transistor is a much more complicated thing than a letter on a page, and yet we make more of them. WOW! The scale of these things is mind boggling. I expect that with MEMS devices we will see similar scale.
It's interesting that the CES crowd has been so slow in understanding the importance of MEMS. Many of them are probably already using three-axis MEMS acceleraometers in laptops, games, pedometers, GPS, etc. I don't think you'd see that kind of response at an engineering trade show, like Design West.
I agree, Chuck, CES has always been aimed more toward the user end of the supply chain than at design engineers. Wasn't it originally a distribution show? Anyway, I think it's funny that MEMS are only now getting the respect they deserve.
I agree, Ann. CES tends to focus on the needs of retailers and end users rather than engineers. Even so it's fun to see what's getting presented. It may change in the future. Instead of Apple, you get Apple suppliers. This year was Microsoft's last year. It's certainly changing.
Well, it is the CONSUMER electronics show.One of the mentalities I was taught when designing an electronic product was to consider that my mother would be using it.Removing the tech from technology so that a typical mom can adopt and easily pick up the use and application of a new gizmo is what makes them successful. --- So, not surprised that MEMS had a slow ramp of visibility over 10 years at CES.I think that was not the case in more technical trade shows.
@Ann thanks for your comment. Yes, CES is mainly an end-user show (though you'd never know it when you see some of the interesting things for sale there...but that's fodder for another blog). By co-exhibiting with several of our member companies, our MEMS TechZone was pretty successful and we are looking to making it even bigger and better with more demos and examples of the "MEMS inside the machine" so that the message about the impact and potential of MEMS is spread even further...But I was pretty impressed with the folks who came to our booth and knew what MEMS stood for (or darned close) and were excited to see our presence at CES. It was pretty cool and I look forward to next year!
Karen, thanks for the update. Having written about MEMS a lot about 10 years ago from the semi and packaging production angle, it's really great to see them finally getting some recognition closer to the user end.
@Alex and you forgot to mention that MEMS will be a key feature of Sensors in Design; with great speakers and content on March 28-29! I am really looking forward to it and hope to see many of you there.
Absolutely, MEMS will be a big part of Design News's upcoming Sensors in Design conference at the end of March. As we note at the end of the article, Karen Lightman will be a track chair, and she's been instrumental in helping us recruit great speakers and panelists for the conference. Again, it's March 28-29, 2012 in San Jose. Visit www.SensorsInDesign2012.com to learn more and to register.
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