MEMS is happening in Vegas baby, and it’s coming home with you, too

By Karen Lightman, Managing Director, MEMS Industry Group

Everyone knows the famous refrain “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” But for MEMS, you’ll want what happens in Vegas to come home with you. Why? Because MEMS at CES has gone waaaay beyond sensing your touch and letting you play Angry Birds.

MEMS Industry Group (MIG) is going back for a second year to International CES – because MEMS is happening in Vegas. And baby, it’s so cool and innovative and its applications are so new and exciting that it’s coming home with you, too. At 2013 International CES MEMS will be ever-present; and MIG is helping it stand out even more this year with our half-day MEMS conference track on January 8.

We will kick off our conference track with a very special keynote from Mr. Klaus Meder, president of Bosch Automotive Electronics, entitled “The MEMS Generation: Why Miniature ‘Machines’ are changing the User Experience with Everything.” Mr. Meder will discuss the connectivity of the automobile with the consumer, all enabled by the power of MEMS. I spoke with Mr. Meder earlier this fall regarding this keynote and was thrilled to hear his passion for MEMS and the role he sees it playing in what he calls this “interconnected lifestyle.” In Meder’s keynote, I expect that he will be taking the theory of the Internet of things one step further by demonstrating how a combination of MEMS and sensors are enabling our lives to be untethered by wires or roads. I was given a sneak peek of his presentation and got goose bumps when I saw the car of the future –  and I think you will, too.

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Who’s faster to market with new product designs? New global industry study tells all.

By Eric Larsen, Vice President of Business Intelligence, ATREG, Inc.

The manufacturing landscape of the MEMS industry will continue to evolve as the market matures to become a higher-volume, less custom business. Companies competing in larger scale consumer MEMS markets will seek to insource manufacturing in order to shorten product cycles times and gain a time-to-market advantage.

According to the key findings of a new global IDM industry study – Managing Complexity & Change in the Semiconductor Ecosystem – initiated by The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and ATREG, Inc., IDM firms are faster to market with new product designs on existing manufacturing processes whereas fabless companies are faster to market with new designs on new manufacturing processes.

The study, instigated by Wharton management professor Dr. Rahul Kapoor, sheds light on a broad array of challenges and opportunities that IDM companies face within their ecosystem. It is based on detailed responses from senior executives at 23 publicly listed IDM companies, including 11 of the 20 largest IDMs (2011 revenue). The average time-to-market, defined as the period from design start to mass production, is about 11 months for a revision of an existing product design. It increases to about 17 months for a new product design. While IDMs are much faster to commercialize new designs on existing manufacturing processes, they seem on average slower to commercialize new designs on new manufacturing processes. This could reflect inherent differences in the extent of design manufacturing customization between fabless and IDM companies. The difference could also be due to the fact that fabless companies essentially contract for a newly available manufacturing process at a foundry whereas IDMs internally develop a new manufacturing process. The IDM study results were compared with those from fabless companies collected during an earlier study conducted by Dr. Kapoor in conjunction with GSA*. Other key research findings include:

  • Manufacturing strategy: In general, while the relationship with foundries is somewhat at an arm’s length, an IDM’s balanced manufacturing strategy seems to be paying off at least in the short term. The importance of having internal manufacturing was reinforced not only in terms of having a high level of coordination between product design and manufacturing activities, but also having greater leverage over foundries.
  • Intellectual property (IP) reuse: On average, an IDM reuses about 73% of design IP in the revision of an existing product design and about 44% in a new product design.
  • Source of IP: A large proportion of IP for IDMs continues to be internal (84%) with some IP dependence on third-party IP firms and foundry suppliers.
  • IDM-foundry relationships: There are lower levels of information sharing and involvement in IDMs’ value-creating activities by foundry suppliers. This may be reflective of the conflicts and challenges that IDMs face in working simultaneously with both internal manufacturing units and external foundries. At the same time, this simultaneity also seems to provide some benefits to IDMs as foundries are much more likely to customize their manufacturing processes around the needs of their IDM customers.
  • IDM-complementor relationships: Companies providing complementary products integrated in the customer’s application play an important role in enhancing the IDMs’ competitive position. Managing those more complex relationships means that IDMs pursuing collaborative innovation models need to explicitly develop organizational structures to effectively manage these new types of relationships.

I welcome your comments at



The full Wharton-ATREG research report is available for download at

*Collaborative Innovation in the Global Semiconductor Industry: A Report on the Findings from the 2010 Wharton-GSA Semiconductor Ecosystem Survey, Dr. Rahul Kapoor / GSA,


About Eric Larsen

atregAs Vice President of Business Intelligence with, Eric oversees all of ATREG’s research-related activities while providing strategic analysis for ATREG’s clients. His ability to uncover valuable information and talent for linking people together makes Eric a valuable resource within the semiconductor industry. Eric’s contributions have resulted in successful transactions on behalf of Sony, IBM, LSI Logic, NEC, Atmel, and Renesas among others.

Prior to joining ATREG in 2003, Eric served as Vice President with global commercial real estate services firm Colliers International. He holds a BA in Business Administration from Seattle Pacific University.

A Day without MEMS

By Karen Lightman, Managing Director, MEMS Industry Group
Originally posted on EE Times


MEMS devices are everywhere. They have permeated almost every aspect of our lives, forever altering our interaction with our digital environment. Unknowingly, we take them for granted. But what would happen if this tiny, robust, quiet, virtually invisible workhorse suddenly disappeared? Would we notice?

I wake up to the cacophonous sound of my children mutinying. The MEMS gyros in their video game controllers are defunct, so they can’t play Wii Dance Party or Super Mario Brothers. Normally, my BodyMedia LINK Armband registers my sleep—and can monitor my heart rate to show if it is soaring due to stress, or something good for me, like running, but my armband is dead in the water so I am forced to gauge my sleep deprivation and heart rate without any electronic support. I have a feeling that this going to be a really long day.

I check my smartphone for the weather report so I know what to expect for the day, but without the MEMS accelerometer for orientation, my screen constantly shifts between landscape and portrait, leaving me even more irritated. I’m late for an important meeting, so I jump into my car and program the GPS, which, without its MEMS-based inertial navigation system, makes location awareness totally unreliable. Looks like I am going to have to get out the map, if I even still have one in the glove compartment.

Did I mention that I’m late for my friend’s surprise 40th birthday party and I’m in charge of taking the photographs? But without those amazing accelerometers giving me image stabilization on my digital camera, my images will surely be blurry. MEMS, where are you?
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MEMS, the Cornerstone of Intelligent Connected Devices: Key Theme at MEMS Executive Congress US 2012

MEMS Suppliers and OEMs explore trends, technologies and market influences at MEMS Industry Group’s flagship business conference

MEMS Industry Group (MIG), a global industry organization with more than 150 member-companies and partners, wrapped up another successful MEMS Executive Congress® US 2012, November 7-8, 2012 in Scottsdale, AZ. Fueled by double-digit growth rates and with an overall market estimated to reach US $12.5B by 2016 1, the micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) industry is realizing explosive growth in consumer electronics and mobile handsets, is strongly resurgent in automotive, and is emerging as a core enabling technology in biomedical/quality of life and diverse industrial applications, including energy and transportation. A record number of attendees at MIG’s eighth annual executive conference and networking event were treated to an inside look at what’s propelling the MEMS market, and MEMS-enabled devices, forward.

“We are seeing a massive proliferation of MEMS devices across a broad range of applications: from mobile handsets, tablets and pico projectors, to health/medical monitors, automotive safety systems, the smart grid, gaming, and robotics,” said Karen Lightman, managing director, MEMS Industry Group. “This combination of rapid growth and demand for smaller, lower-power MEMS has created challenges that our industry is solving. ‘Sensor fusion’ is easing the integration of MEMS in heterogeneous systems. MEMS suppliers are making lower-power devices and are packaging MEMS in IMUs that conserve board space. And the industry is coming together to address the critical issue of MEMS standardization. At MEMS Executive Congress, we dove collectively into these and other pressing issues.”

Opening Keynote Speaker Ajith Amerasekera, director, product acceleration, High Performance Analog Business, Texas Instruments, described the criticality of power to perpetual and seamless connectivity. “As a technology that supports ubiquitous intelligence, MEMS is helping to drive advances in electronic devices. At the same time, we must consider the demands of pervasive, connected electronic applications, in terms of energy generation and management. The MEMS industry, and the larger ecosystem of which it is a part, must rise to the challenges of integrated low-power sensor technology, smaller form-factor battery and storage technology, and true energy harvesting in order to sustain what will one day be trillions of connected devices.”

Closing Keynote Speaker Robert Brunner, founder, creative director and partner, Ammunition—the innovation firm behind products from Apple, Barnes & Noble, Beats by Dr. Dre, Adobe and Lark—offered MEMS Executive Congress attendees his inclusive philosophy of product design. “Everybody in this room is a designer,” said Brunner. “Great design is developed around a vision that manifests itself in something that people find not only useful, but desirable.” Brunner further hit a chord with the audience when he stated that “while technology enables, it is design that establishes.”

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Preview of MEMS Technology Showcase at MEMS Executive Congress US 2012

By Karen Lightman, managing director, MEMS Industry Group

If I must tell the truth, the genesis of MEMS Technology Showcase began (as many great ideas do) at a bar over beers, the closing night of MEMS Executive Congress 2010. I was talking with Bryan Hoadley of Movea, who had just spoken on the MEMS in Consumer panel. He and I talked about what the MEMS industry needs – a way to show how cool the MEMS inside is – to showcase the “MEMS in the machine” (a marketing theme that we at MEMS Industry Group had just launched earlier that year). And viola! The concept for MEMS Technology Showcase was born.

My vision was to create a carnival-type atmosphere where OEM/end-user companies would compete to come up on stage while the moderator would be the ringmaster, virtual whip in hand, taming the masses who want a glimpse at the wonder of those magnificent MEMS-enabled products. My ultimate goal was to have companies not wait to release their products at CES in January, but instead, at MEMS Technology Showcase in November. I fantasized that someday even Apple would want to release their latest iPhone at the Congress!  (Well you must admit there are a lot of MEMS in there!)

Last year the MEMS Technology Showcase was a huge success – so big that others even tried to replicate it at their events (I guess it’s that expression: “imitation is the best form of flattery,” right?) We crowned Recon Instruments’ MOD-Live heads-up display for goggles as our winner, and they’ve gone on to great commercial success and recognition.

This year we have six finalists, and I am confident that our winner will receive accolades and customer orders galore, and it’ll be due in part to those fabulous little MEMS chips inside, enabling all that functionality in a smaller, faster and lower-power form factor with heaps of intelligence to boot.

I am equally confident in this year’s moderator, Shawn G. DuBravac, chief economist and senior director of research, Consumer Electronics Association (BTW nothing will come close to CES, I was just kidding, Shawn. No hard feelings, right?). Shawn has mastered similar types of competitions for CEA and has already shared his advice on how to mange the “flow” of the competition/panel; his biggest suggestion was to get a HUGE DIGITAL CLOCK like the ones they have at finish lines for marathons. I thought we’d get the whip from my original ringmaster idea…

Here’s a peek at who will be competing in our second annual MEMS Technology Showcase:

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Preview of Our Fabulous Keynotes at MEMS Executive Congress US 2012

By Karen Lightman, managing director, MEMS Industry Group

Recently I was talking with a MIG member about what was unique about this year’s Congress. I actually surprised myself when I instantly blurted out, “the keynotes!” Normally, I would talk about how cool the MEMS Technology Showcase is (and it is – really, it is!) And you’ll soon hear about it in an upcoming story/blog). But honestly, when I answer from my gut, I gotta go with my initial answer: this year’s fabulous keynotes.

Our opening keynote speaker is Ajith Amerasekera, TI Fellow, IEEE Fellow, Kilby Labs, Texas Instruments. Ajith was the director of Kilby Labs at TI, which he has described as a “do tank” rather than a “think tank.” I am grateful for the time that Ajith has taken from his super-busy schedule solving important challenges at TI to answer a few questions for me, give us a peek inside his brain and preview what he’ll be discussing in his keynote, “Ultra Low-Power Electronics in the Next Decade,” on the morning of November 8.

Ajith, with your vast experience at TI in the VLSI Design Labs, director of ASIC Technology Strategy, as well as the director of Kilby Labs, you’ve gained a great perspective of high tech and how it’s evolved since the 1980’s. So given your experience, how do you define the shift in electronic technology from centralized and high-touch to ubiquitous and low-touch, and what are the driving forces?

A. The shift is defined by a need for more localized intelligent electronic devices to control and manage our environment — from home automation to the smart grid.  Electronics are enabling us to be more efficient and productive. The ability to build more powerful devices at very low power and cost levels enables us to distribute and embed intelligence widely. TI is a major player in ultra-low power, high-performance, analog chips and embedded processors that are the heart of these new systems.

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Preview of MEMS in Consumer Products Panel at MEMS Executive Congress US 2012

By Karen Lightman, managing director, MEMS Industry Group

I remember the first time we had a panel on consumer MEMS products at MEMS Executive Congress. It was November 2006, Marlene Bourne was our moderator and our panelists were:  Frank Melzer (CEO of the newly formed Bosch Sensortec); Benedetto Vigna (back then his title was MEMS business unit director, STMicroelectronics); Mark Martin’s predecessor, Bill Giudice, vice president and general manager, Micromachined Products Division, Analog Devices; and Rick Thompson, manager, Advanced RF Technologies, BAE SYSTEMS.

Well, things sure have changed since then, haven’t they? In those days, we were all abuzz about the imminent release of the Nintendo Wii and the amazing impact of the Apple iPod. (The iPhone wouldn’t be announced for another two months.) Makes me smile when I think back at how simple and innocent the times were back then…

We’ve learned a lot over the past six years.  While most of the companies from the 2006 consumer panel are still active in MEMS (but only two of the panelists!), the Congress is now focused on hearing from end-users who are driving the market for MEMS. I am honored and truly delighted to have as this year’s moderator for “MEMS in Consumer Products,” my colleague Evgeni Gousev, senior director, Technology Development, Qualcomm MEMS Technologies, Inc.

I had the rare delight of discussing the panel topic over dinner with Evgeni when I was in the Bay Area a few weeks ago (for the MEMS workshop MIG did with BSAC). I scribbled my notes in between bites of a delicious, fresh California green salad to get a glimpse of what Evgeni will be discussing with panelists on the topic of MEMS in consumer products.

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The Next Revolution in MEMS: XS is size, XXL in power

By Chris Keimel, Editor

Aero Thermal & Mechanical Systems
Niskayuna, NY USA


Originally posted on GE Global Research’s blog: Edison’s Desk


Walk into a dark room and flip a light switch on.

This simple action connected an electrical circuit and caused a light to illuminate the room.  That switch is a mechanical relay.  Relays are fundamental building blocks that allow circuits to be operated and are found in every day products.  At GE Global Research, we miniaturized the relay using MEMS technology to create ultra small switches (about the width of a single hair strand) that are able to turn electrical systems, such as a light bulb, on and off.  Historically, MEMS devices have been made to sense or control signals.  Our MEMS microswitch is able to switch and control power; not just signal power but hundreds of watts, even kilowatts of power.

Now MEMS switches are nothing new, people have been researching and developing this technology for well over a decade.  What we have done at Global Research is develop the materials, the designs and the fabrication techniques that extend this miniature switching technology’s power handling capability by nearly 2 orders of magnitude.  This enables our MEMS microswitch devices to serve a wide range of applications from handheld electronics such as cell phones, to relays that control lighting and even electrical protection devices such as circuit breakers.

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MEMS Industry Group Welcomes New Board Members

MEMS Industry Group (MIG) is pleased to announce the election of three new members of our Governing Council, a volunteer leadership body within MIG that helps to chart the future direction of our industry association.

The MIG Governing Council represents the diversity of applications of MEMS technology as well as the various sizes of companies in the MEMS supply chain.

Elected by current Governing Council members, our new board members will serve a three-year term, from January 1, 2013- December 31, 2015. They include:

  • Bryan Hoadley, executive vice president, worldwide sales & marketing, and president, Movea, Inc.—a leading provider of motion sensing and data fusion software, firmware, and IP for the consumer electronics, mobile and tablets, sports and fitness, and eHealth industries;
  • David Kirsch, vice president and general manager, EV Group, Inc., North America—a top supplier of wafer bonding and lithography equipment for the MEMS, nanotechnology and semiconductor markets; and
  • Stephen Whalley, director, Sensors, Intel Architecture Group, Intel Corporation, a world leader in computer innovation.

“The annual process of developing and augmenting our board leadership is critical to our continued growth and evolution,” said Karen Lightman, managing director, MEMS Industry Group. “The addition of Bryan Hoadley, David Kirsch and Steve Whalley will help to ensure the successful implementation of our mission—as the industry association advancing MEMS across global markets. I look forward to working with our new Governing Council members, and I know that they will further strengthen our active and passionate board!”

Other changes in the membership of MIG’s Governing Council as of January 1, 2013 include:

  • Two members who are rotating off their three-year terms: Mark Martin, vice president, MEMS and Sensors, Analog Devices; and William Hawkins, director, Advanced MEMS Technology R&D, GE Global Research Center; and
  • Steve Dwyer, business director, Dynaloy, LLC., who will be rotating off as board chair; and Kevin Crofton, executive vice president and COO, SPTS Technologies, who will rotate on as board chair.

The complete list of MIG Governing Council members is available online.

Preview of MEMS in Emerging Technologies Panel at MEMS Executive Congress US 2012

By Karen Lightman, managing director, MEMS Industry Group

Typically at MEMS Executive Congress, both US and Europe, we have panel topics that fit neatly into neat little packages like “MEMS in Consumer” or “MEMS Automotive.” This year in planning for our US event, our steering committee wanted to shake things up a bit to delve into what’s next for MEMS (beyond iPhone and Galaxy, Kinect, Kindle and name-that-new-and-exciting automotive safety or driver-assist application). After all, the theme of MEMS Executive Congress US is “MEMS is in the mainstream—so what’s next?” And what’s next is emerging technologies.

Our “MEMS in Emerging Technologies” panel will help to foretell what’s next. Staffed by experts who are at the forefront of emerging technologies in their respective fields, our panelists, these are the guys who are doing the “blue sky” thinking; they are tinkering in the lab and thinking the “what if” questions, and yes, they are doing it with MEMS. I am thrilled to have as panel moderator, Steve Whalley, director, Sensors, Intel Architecture Group, Intel Corporation.

Steve and I recently spoke about MEMS in Emerging Technologies and he gave me an introduction of our impressive panelists and a sneak peak into what the panelists will be discussing at MEMS Executive Congress US 2012.

Q: Steve – I am impressed by the combination of research and real-world experience of your panelists. Can you tell me more about who they are?

A: Jon Kindred is senior director of signals and systems, Starkey Laboratories. Jon provided technical and managerial leadership during Starkey’s ascent in becoming best in class in many significant signal-processing features.

Jon is joined by Hughes Metras, vice president, strategic partnerships, North America, CEA-LETI. Hughes has been involved in microelectronics, addressing power conversion for industrial, automotive and PV applications, and solid-state lighting, as well as sensor technologies for healthcare and environmental issues.

And last but certainly not least is Todd Miller, lab manager, MicroSystems and MicroFluidics, GE Global Research. Todd has focused on design and development of high-volume manufacturing devices and systems in safety-critical applications, with a concentration in system engineering, MEMS design and establishing design and quality control methodologies to support high-volume production.

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