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: