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.