More In-Depth MEMS Talk at MEPTEC MEMS Symposium

Contributed by Karen Lightman, Managing Director, MEMS Industry Group

After hosting MIG’s annual members meeting, METRIC 2010, May 18-19, I had the pleasure of participating in and enjoying the MEPTEC MEMS Symposium on May 20. As you may know, MIG and MEPTEC are industry partners and last year we made the strategic decision to co-locate our events. As was confirmed in our METRIC exit survey, the “experiment” to move METRIC from our hometown of Pittsburgh to San Jose was successful. Our attendance at METRIC was great and I am pleased to say that MEPTEC’s attendance and exhibition participation were also very strong. It was also a lot of fun and here’s why:

The morning of the MEPTEC MEMS Symposium began with a hearty and warming introduction by MEMS veteran Joe Mallon of axept/Stanford. The focus of the morning session was “enablers of MEMS-IC integration” and Jeff Perkins of Yole as well as Roger Grace of Grace Associates did a fine job of laying out the land of MEMS integration. I had some fun with my flip HD video camera and filmed sections of Jeff’s presentation (that I hope he lets me post!). Then it was my turn to present the findings/highlights of MIG’s METRIC, focused on MEMS fabrication.

Everyone has a story of “what went wrong when I tried to show my presentation at X conference” and now I have mine. Thankfully I was presenting in front of an easy and happy crowd; as you can see from the video clip – it was not a smooth presentation. But it was entertaining!

You’ve probably already read Monica’s blog post about METRIC so I don’t want to waste your time rehashing METRIC, but rest assured I gave a synopsis of the panels and working groups. I also highlighted MIG’s numerous member benefits and programs including several members-only MEMS panels that I’ll be moderating in the coming months at Microtech Anaheim and SEMICON West, as well as our MEMS reliability MEMS Education short course during SEMICON West week (Mon, July 12). I also gave a preview of MIG’s signature event, MEMS Executive Congress – talking about the panels and our keynote, Dr. Richard Duncombe of HP.

Several MIG members gave keynote presentations throughout the day including: John Bloomburg, IntelliSense; John Heck, Intel; Rob O’Reilly, Analog Devices; Raffaella Borzi, IMEC; Wilbur, SVTC; and Jeff Hilbert WiSpry. Another presentation I enjoyed was from Clark Nguyen now of BSAC. Overall, the Symposium offered an impressive line-up of speakers, and an equally impressive audience.

I have to tell you I was pleased to hear references to both METRIC (which annoyingly some people referred to as “the MIG” – huh?) and MEMS Executive Congresses of the past years. Having Philippe Kahn, founder and CEO of Fullpower as the Symposium’s keynote was another nice plug for the Congress, as he and and several folks in the audience (including Janusz Bryzek) talked about Philippe’s presentation at the Congress in San Diego in 2007.

Philippe’s presentation lauded the enabling power of MEMS and how software will help it enable to sense even more. “Welcome to the era of sensors everywhere” was his mantra. He proffered several “top three lists” including the three rules for successful software craftsmanship:

  1. Be smart with vision
  2. Throwing more bodies around complex software projects further decreases the quality and lengthens delivery schedules.
  3. There are three vectors (tradeoffs) that drive craftsmanship:
    1. Quality
    2. Schedule
    3. Features

You have to pick two, and a smart company understands those tradeoffs and will communicate them to their customers as well as their employees. I think these rules are very applicable to MEMS companies as well.

From what I’ve experienced, Philippe likes to prognosticate – so he left the audience with his predictions:

  1. Smaller, more efficient, cheaper
  2. Ten Billion sensors will be in smart phones by 2013
  3. Advanced software is the next frontier for complex sensing solutions.

This list is really not that surprising and the success of products like the Wii, the iPhone and now the iPad demonstrate the potency and potential of linking MEMS with software. As I’ve said before, without the MEMS inside the iPhone, there would be no App store and now an entire budding software industry focused on creating apps that you didn’t realize you needed.

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