MEMS Executive Congress Europe

By Karen Lightman, Managing Director, MEMS Industry Group

“MEMS is only limited by the imagination” was the title of the opening keynote presented by ST’s Carmelo Papa at MEMS Executive Congress Europe and in many ways this phrase perfectly summarizes the conference itself. All of the speakers on our four panels  – industrial, biomedical/Quality of Life (QoL), automotive and consumer – as well as our keynotes – all conveyed that frontier feeling that MEMS can truly change the world. Sure we have some challenges to overcome (biggest being packaging), but the potential of having MEMS (frickin’) everywhere is a very tangible reality, if any of the predictions of MEMS Executive Congress Europe come true.

Thankfully the numerous press who attended the Congress Europe have already done an impressive job of highlighting the panelists’ and keynotes’ more technical points – please refer to our Congress press coverage for the growing list of stories.  So instead of retelling you who said what regarding what ISO qualification, I’ll use this blog to give you the more colorful side of the Congress (shocking disclosure, I know).  And speaking of color, MIG’s Monica Takacs did a great job of capturing the Congress in pictures and we’ve posted them on our Flickr site; you will want to check it out.

I am going to share with you my favorite quotes, saving my favorite for last. I’ll start with the one by our opening keynote, Carmelo Papa. When Carmelo was talking “off the ST script” his adorable Italian personality was a lot of fun. Like when he said that he couldn’t reveal ST’s biggest customer “even under torture,” but he’d give us some hints: “it is green, and delicious to eat.” What a great way to describe Apple.  I also liked how he described MEMS as the “mouse for portable devices” as it enables a new realm of gesture.

My next favorite quote was from VTI’s Hannu Laatikainen who I called a “Finnish Haiku Poet” when he said that we needed to “treat the car more like a human that can see, feel, hear, smell and taste.” Great stuff.  I absolutely enjoyed hearing every single word coming out of the mouth of Dr. Berger of Clinatec and it wasn’t just because I am a sucker for a French accent. I loved his description of connecting technology with medicine and his passion for patient health, safety and welfare.  He urged that there must be more money for clinical trials of technology for medical treatment to prove efficacy (not just money for consumer-inspired sport applications masking as healthcare products). I couldn’t agree more.

I laughed when Stefan Finkbeiner introduced himself and stated that his company, Akustica/Bosch, hailed from Pittsburgh, the “MEMS center of the US.” Stefan then modified the statement by saying that Pittsburgh is the “MEMS capital of Pennsylvania” and “definitely the MEMS capital of Western PA.” My hometown is a lot of things, but not yet the MEMS capital of the US.

But my absolute favorite quote from MEMS Executive Congress Europe was from Continental’s Bernhard Schmid. When someone from the audience asked the panelists if visual sensors will replace MEMS on automotive, Bernhard responded with a rhetorical question: “Have the eyes cannibalized the ears? No. Both senses/sensors are needed for smart automotive.” I guess he was inspired by Hannu’s earlier comment about the car’s senses being more human. I wouldn’t have expected such eloquence from a bunch of automotive engineering executives.  But like the Congress in general, these guys impressed and surprised me.

MEMS Executive Congress Europe was a fantastic success. I was expecting 100 attendees; we had 155. I thought we had a handful of sponsors; we had over 30. I look forward to building the content for this year’s upcoming MEMS Executive Congress US in Scottsdale (November 7-8) and yes, next year’s event somewhere in Europe and possibly in Asia. By design, MEMS Executive Congress is a unique professional forum where executives from companies designing and manufacturing MEMS technology sit side-by-side with their end-user customers in panel discussions and networking events to exchange ideas and information about the use of MEMS in commercial applications. And clearly, with our success in Europe, MIG is meeting a need in the market. Good thing it’s also lots of fun.

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