Karen’s blog from Sensors Expo MEMS Pre-Conference Symposium

MEMS in the Mainstream – Music to my Ears

For the second year in a row, MEMS Industry Group (MIG) was host to the Sensors Expo Pre-Conference Symposium, and this year’s theme was “MEMS in the Mainstream: Commercialization and Product Realization – Leveraging the MEMS Infrastructure.” I felt like a bandmaster—not trying to make the music, just trying to get the band with all its different instruments, rhythms and tones to harmonize.

It’s not a simple piece to orchestrate because when you talk about commercialization and product realization and leveraging the MEMS infrastructure – you are talking about lots of different perspectives from equipment vendors to materials’ suppliers, from foundries to device manufacturers (some captive-fab, some fab-lite, some fabless), as well as from end-users and OEMs. Each of these “bands” has its own instrument, its own sheet music, its own style and its own “special sauce.” You can see where I am going with this analogy. Like in music, MEMS can either work like a 10-piece orchestra in total sync and harmony, or it can sound like something the cat dragged in!

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Freescale announces Windows 8 sensor fusion

By Michael Stanley

Originally posted on Freescale’s The Embedded Beat Blog

In my last post (“Degrees of freedom vs. axes”) we discussed some basic terminology for sensor fusion. This time around, we get to put that lesson into practice as we examine Freescale’s recent technology announcement of a full featured reference platform for Windows®8 sensor fusion.

If you are a regular reader, you’ll know by now that I am fascinated by sensors and sensor fusion software. These are the technologies that let us interface with our electronic toys with a simple tap, swipe or gesture. So I was energized last week when Freescale announced development of a 12-axis, sensor fusion reference platform for Microsoft® Windows®8. I was at the kickoff meeting last year between Microsoft and Freescale, and I’ve been watching the system evolve in our offices since. We’re not quite ready to ship boards to the general market, but we’re excited and want to share our plans and status with you.

Figure 1: Freescale Microsoft® Windows® 8 Sensor Fusion Data Flow

Figure 1: Freescale Microsoft® Windows® 8 Sensor Fusion Data Flow

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MEMS was a Shining Star at Sensors Expo

Several MIG members gave presentations, participated as exhibitors or just walked the show floor at this year’s Sensors Expo in Rosemont, IL on June 6 and 7. According to the press release  published by the show organizer, Sensors Expo & Conference delivered the most comprehensive sensors education program and largest showcase of sensors and sensing technologies. Over 4000 engineers, scientists, and industry professionals attended and over 150 companies exhibited.

Here are just a few highlights of the MIG members in attendance.

Acuity Incorporated - Long time MIG member and one of our newest Governing Council members, Jim Knutti of  MEMS pressure sensor company Acuity Incorporated talks about MIG and the MEMS industry from his booth in the MEMS Innovation area in this YouTube video.

Analog Devices had a big presence at the show. Rob O’Reilly of ADI presented during the MIG pre-conference symposium. At their booth and during the conference session, they showcased their MEMS microphone technology.

Epson also had a large presence at the show. David Gaber spoke about their QMEMS-based inertial sensing products at the MIG pre-conference symposium. They offered QMEMS demos at their booth.

Epson Electronics at Sensors Expo 2012

Fraunhofer ENAS - Professor Gessner gave the keynote presentation at MIG’s pre-conference symposium and Fraunhofer ENAS exhibited on the show floor.

Professor Gessner, Fraunhofer ENAS

Fraunhofer IPMS showcased their MEMS micro-spectrometer in their booth as demonstrated in this YouTube video.

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Analyst Corner: MEMS market will continue double digit growth, to double by 2017

Fast growing inertial sensor and microfluidics demand will drive a doubling of the MEMS market to $21 billion by 2017, as total unit shipments ramp at a 20% CAGR.

Contributed by Yole Développement

By Eric Mounier, Senior Analyst, MEMS Devices & Technologies, Yole Développement and Laurent Robin, Activity Leader, Inertial MEMS Devices & Technologies, Yole Développement

MEMS will continue to see steady, sustainable double digit growth for the next six years,with 20% compound average annual growth in units and 13% growth in revenues, to become a $21 billion market by 2017. That’s a slight slowdown from the industry’s 17% jump in 2011, as the initial rush of adoption of inertial sensors in smart phones cools a bit, inertial sensor prices continue to fall, and demand for inkjet heads slips a bit more. We expect continued strong growth in motion sensing and microfluidics means those sectors will increasingly come to dominate the MEMS market totals, making up almost half of the overall market in 2017, with accelerometers, gyros, magnetometers and combos accounting for about 25% of the total, and microfluidics for 23%.

Strong growth to continue in inertial sensors, 3-axis gyro remains the hot consumer product

There’s plenty of room for the motion sensor market to grow for at least the next three years, as penetration increases in growing end markets, for a $5.2 billion opportunity by 2017. But competition, falling prices, maturing markets and increasing integration also mean overall CAGR in this large market will be held to about 8%.

On the consumer side, accelerometers are already in almost all smart phones, but the overall cell phone market is still growing quickly, projected to grow by another 1 billion units by 2017. More of these phones will also be smart phones, the total likely doubling from 450 million to 900 million within the next three years, and MEMS are also now starting to be designed into more feature phones as well. The penetration of gyros jumped from 9% of smart phones in 2010 to 36% in 2011. Within two to three years, however, every smart phone will have a gyro.

Many phones may in fact start to have two gyros, as phone makers increasingly see image stabilization as a key way to differentiate their products with better photo quality. InvenSense targets the camera module suppliers with for its precision gyro for image stabilization, arguing it makes things easier for the phone maker. STMicroelectronics offers a dual core solution instead, with both a high precision sensor for image stabilization and one more suited to gaming in a single package, but as this requires a more complex ASIC it may not necessarily be the cheaper solution.

AKM still dominates the magnetometer business with some 78% market share with its Hall-based device, and tight integration into the InvenSense modules and software. But other suppliers, from STMicroelectronics and Robert Bosch to MEMSIC, argue that their alternative technologies are more accurate and use less power, and that they can better integrate the devices they make themselves.

The market for combo sensors started in 2011, with 6-axis accelerometer and magnetometer combo units with a single ASIC shipped in volume, and 6-axis accelerometer and gyro units now starting to do so as well, often for only a small additional cost for the accelerometers. Stand alone components are still by far the biggest business, but in two to three years successful companies will be selling 6X or 9X devices.

To better track these important developments, we have broken out a separate category for combo sensors in our market data and forecasts this year. We believe that the market for discrete sensors will begin to decline, but the growth for combo solutions will be huge. Though currently less than a $100 million niche, we expect combos to be a $1.7 billion opportunity by 2017.

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Healthcare Applications Based on MEMS Technology

MEMS in HealthcareContributed by Xsens

Pietro Garofalo, Business Developer in Healthcare Applications at Xsens has recently published an article entirely dedicated to the application of MEMS technology in the Healthcare Market. Pietro explains the logic behind it:

“The core business of Xsens is directly linked with our capability of introducing MEMS technology in the market with different levels of complexity. Our expertise allows MEMS to reach many levels of application where different accuracy, reliability and scenarios are required. From an individual motion tracker to integration of MEMS with Ultra Wide Band technology, the article explains what are the minimum requirements to make inertial sensors applicable for healthcare applications”

Read more in Advancing MicroElectronics magazine (pdf)