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Electronics & Test
Top 12 Hot Design Technologies for 2012
12/8/2011

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Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)
MEMS is really six or seven sub-domains, many of which have products with high growth numbers.   


They include: environmental sensors such as pressure and humidity sensors and silicon microphones; inertial sensors including accelerometers and gyroscopes; inkjets and microfluidics; microactuators including micromirror devices and displays; RF MEMS; micro-opto-electromechanical systems (MOEMS); bioelectronic probes and substrates.   

Shown in the picture is MEMSIC's no-moving-parts MEMS accelerometer, which uses a heater to raise the temperature of a central column of air, while thermocouples around the edge indicate acceleration as a change in temperature.
MEMS is really six or seven sub-domains, many of which have products with high growth numbers.

They include: environmental sensors such as pressure and humidity sensors and silicon microphones; inertial sensors including accelerometers and gyroscopes; inkjets and microfluidics; microactuators including micromirror devices and displays; RF MEMS; micro-opto-electromechanical systems (MOEMS); bioelectronic probes and substrates.

Shown in the picture is MEMSIC's no-moving-parts MEMS accelerometer, which uses a heater to raise the temperature of a central column of air, while thermocouples around the edge indicate acceleration as a change in temperature.

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Beth Stackpole
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What a wealth of possibilities
Beth Stackpole   12/8/2011 8:13:30 AM
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Great look ahead at some pretty amazing technologies that have the potential to dramatically change the landscape of how we work, live, and play--albeit, not necessarily in the 2012 timeframe. A couple of things stand out to me: The idea of plastic, hence biodegradeable, electronics seems like it could have some profound benefits long term given the heaps of disgarded equipment we see littering the landscapes of third-world nations. I'm also intrigued by the idea of organic LEDs. What makes an LED organic and what's the upshot of that?

Alexander Wolfe
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Re: What a wealth of possibilities
Alexander Wolfe   12/8/2011 10:10:43 AM
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I'm struck by how closely the picks in this article written by our colleagues at EE Times dovetails with what we've been covering all year long here at Design News. So that says that we've been on the money, but more than that that these "hot" technologies are actually moving very quickly into the mainstream. For some, I see this and it's been obvious for a while (say, MEMs and photovoltaic cells). However, for others I'm a bit surprised to find the uptake might be quicker than I've been assuming. Here the key example is energy harvesting, which I guess is being goosed by its ROI.

Jennifer Campbell
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Re: What a wealth of possibilities
Jennifer Campbell   12/8/2011 10:53:30 AM
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I am wondering the same thing about organic LEDs, Beth. Also, do organic LEDs have a similar lifespan of inorganic LEDs? Does one have advantages over the other? I'm definitely looking forward to learning more.

Charles Murray
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Internet of Things
Charles Murray   12/8/2011 11:40:41 AM
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What a great, diverse of collection of technologies and applications. If I were a bettor, I'd put my money on the Internet of Things. It's doable and will have a lot of big, motivated players behind it. Even though it has great potential, I think it will emerge quietly, with many of us not even knowing its there.

Rob Spiegel
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Near Field Communications
Rob Spiegel   12/8/2011 1:16:14 PM
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The near field communications is an interesting technology. It's being tested in some markets. Quite of number of phone makers and financial companies are investing in it. Apple is lining up patents to use it at Apple stores.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Bet on the Internet of Things
Rob Spiegel   12/8/2011 1:22:00 PM
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Good point on the Internet of Things, Chuck. I remember a lot of talk about this during the early dot com days. Then it kind of disappeared. Nice to see it revived. A lot of the technology is already there. It's a matter of deploying the technology in useful ways.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: What a wealth of possibilities
Ann R. Thryft   12/8/2011 3:52:11 PM
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My top-of-the-top votes would be for MEMS, which are amazing enablers and now come in so many different flavors, and energy harvesting, which is not only a good idea but may become more necessary in the search for alternative energy sources. I'd also vote for PV solar cells for the same reason. Organic LEDs took me by surprise, though--what a great idea.


Charles Murray
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Re: What a wealth of possibilities
Charles Murray   12/8/2011 8:24:24 PM
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One high-rofile application of MEMS is in Holywood movies, such as Iron Man. The MEMS-based suits enable actotrs to do amazing stunts and we're going to see a lot more applications of the technology in the next few years.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Bet on the Internet of Things
Beth Stackpole   12/9/2011 6:58:01 AM
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I'm going to step up to the plate and admit I don't know exactly what the "Internet of things" is. Can anyone help explain?

Alexander Wolfe
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Re: Bet on the Internet of Things
Alexander Wolfe   12/9/2011 10:31:12 AM
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In answer to your question, Beth, the "Internet of Things" is what I'll admit is an unusual term to describe the coming of 'Net connectivity to commonplace items. The biggest example would be, all appliances, from coffee makers and blenders to refrigerators, will be connected to the Internet. This will enable remote control, energy saving, and automatically pushed-down software updates. On the flip side, Internet of Things opponents worry about privacy (sucking down data about users' habits). Asia (particularly China) seems to be the nexus of initial activity of the Internet of Things, which may be why it's kind of a non-idiomatic English coinage. Intel, for one, sees a huge market selling processors which support the Internet connectivity of all these devices.

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