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.
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.
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.
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?
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