Karen’s blog from Boston – Tech Connect/Microtech and Analog Devices Site Visit

By Karen Lightman, Managing Director, MEMS Industry Group

Microtech – part of TechConnect World at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston

Day one – June 14

The day began with anticipation and a full house (about 3000) at the opening keynotes at the TechConnect World, which is a combo of several “tech events” including Microtech, BioNano, CleanTech, Nanotech, and Tech Connect. The premise behind having all these inter-related disciplines is to cross-fertilize and “connect” to promote innovation.

The keynotes were several and a surprise appearance from Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Richard Sullivan, who was representing Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Next up was Travis Earles who recently joined Lockheed Martin after being at the White House’s OSTP for four years. The morning’s third keynote was from Terry Taber, CTO Eastman Kodak. I was heartened to hear him talk about the Valley of Death between lab and fab – a topic that motivates me here at MIG on a daily basis.

Now onto the good stuff – I was honored and delighted to host a one-day symposium at Microtech and the topic was hatched at last year’s MEMS Executive Congress –which I talked about in a recent guest blog for Medical Electronics Design. It was a ton of fun pulling together the content and speakers for the program and I am indebted to Freescale’s Mark DiPerri and Draper’s Jeff Borenstein, both whom helped me concoct this QoL cocktail. MIG members can download all the presentations, but let me share with you the highlights…

The QoL symposium was kicked off by a phenomenal keynote by Dr. Slepian, co-founder, chairman, chief scientific and medical officer at SynCardia Systems. WOW doesn’t even begin to describe what this guy and his team at SynCardia has developed/is developing – an artificial heart that enables patients waiting for a heart transplant to HAVE a quality of life (leave the hospital, ride bikes, enjoy life). His keynote I loved that he specifically pointed to a visual of the heart and said “I’d like to see a MEMS sensor HERE in this stent so I know in advance when this membrane is having trouble and may tear” so that he can save more lives, with MEMS; beyond just the artificial heart. LOVE IT. A QoL call to arms for the MEMS industry!

Dr. Slepian’s keynote was followed by Mark DiPerri with Freescale. Mark began with his definition of quality of life – in fact several speakers brought up this question on how to define “quality of life.” Mark said he sees QoL as personal satisfaction – and I like this concept as it’s individual and represents the respect and dignity we should give those who are WITHOUT a QoL. Mark talked of how MEMS is the 4th revolution – giving us intelligent monitoring such as the monitored home; and how Human Machine Interface (HMI) is the “relationship between person & machine & understanding the person” in terms of: detect – analyze – respond. Mark then gave some cool examples of HMI including: BAM labs – like sick bay on Star Trek; and Hugh Herr’s iWalk – intelligent prosthesis – “the power foot” which I described a bit in my blog from Sensors Expo.

Following Mark was another amazing presentation by Jeff Borenstein with Draper Labs. Seriously, all three of these presentations could have been keynotes in any thousand-person conference. A full description of Jeff’s amazing work at Draper can be found in the recent EE Times article by Bill Schweber. My favorite part of his talk was when he showed images of artificial organs grown with the aid of MEMS to create a healthier growing environment and his description of drug delivery technologies enabled by MEMS.

Before the lunch break, Analog Devices’ Tom O’Dwyer presented a thorough description and background of biomedical/healthcare enabled by MEMS. One of the cooler things he described was how the ADI MEMS microphone is in a “wheezometer” developed by Karmelsonic, an Israeli company that has a product that can detect and predict the future occurrence of an asthma attack. I NEED THIS THING DURING FLU SEASON!

After lunch, we had a series of presentations by OMRON’s Donna Sandfox who delved deeper in describe OMRON’s perspective of using MEMS inside the SynCardia artificial heart. I’d been hearing about the OMRON flow sensor technology for years and it was great to learn more. Then we heard from ginger.io co-founder Anmol Madan, who described the use of Modeling Objective Quality of Life using Smartphone Sensors- seems like a brilliant and simple idea and I liked seeing the predictions of health based on MEMS-in-the-machine that he described.

Then it was my turn to moderate a fun and engaging panel on MEMS QoL with several MIG members – including MEMSCAP’s Steve Wilcenski, SVTC’s Rich Brossart, NanoMedical Systems’ Randy Goodall and my pinch-hitter, Jeff Borenstein who stepped in for a last minute cancellation. We had a great time talking about how MEMS is in QoL medical devices and why the world is ready for silicon-implantable devices.

But wait, there’s more! The closing keynote was eloquently delivered by GE’s Brian Wirth, who described how MEMS is in a myriad of QoL medical devices. Brian highlighted some WICKED cool technologies being developed at the GE Global Research Center including RFID chemical and biological sensor tags that have the potential to revolutionize the way we maintain and enhance QoL. Brian closed by summarizing that GE’s goal is to provide healthcare products that combine “comparative effectiveness, personalized healthcare and real world effectiveness.” An impressive trifecta.

Then it was time to party – we had a quick cocktail at the Microtech conference and then crossed the street to the Back Bay Social Club to join more Boston-area MIG members….

Thank you to everyone who came to all the events and a big thanks to the organizers at TechConnect World – it was a great event and I look forward to next year!

Next post will describe my fabulous fab tour and visit at Analog Devices – stay tuned!

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