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Consumer, Industrial, and Medical Apps Driving MEMS

December 3, 2008

Nokia, Sun, Microsoft talk with MEMS business execs at MEMS Executive Congress in Monterey; discuss the growth in MEMS as driven by the demand for mobile devices.


PITTSBURGH, PA--(Marketwire) - According to Roger Meike, director of Sun Microsystems Labs' Project Sun SPOT, "the next cool thing" could combine MEMS accelerometers, light and temperature sensors in new classes of applications that interact with the real world. Should the next generation of inventors use the Java-based Project Sun SPOT (Small Programmable Object Technology) to build those devices, so much the better, said Meike to attendees of MEMS Executive Congress, held November 5–7 in Monterey, CA.

Noting Yole Développement's MEMS market projections for 2012, director of Nokia Research Center's Cambridge, UK laboratory, Dr. Tapani Ryhänen, asked whether surging demand for mobile devices is largely responsible for projected growth in accelerometers, radio frequency (RF) MEMS and silicon microphones. Microsoft hardware researcher Mike Sinclair declared this "the decade of physical interactivity" while talking about the importance of gesture recognition at Microsoft and the company's interest in a slew of MEMS devices—microphones, accelerometers, gyroscopes and RF switches, especially for mobile phones and displays. And for acclaimed video game developer Jack McCauley, having a foundry that can produce millions of devices and ramp mass production in four months is critical to a company's selection of MEMS. McCauley stated that such mass production is no longer a concern in the video game industry, adding that "the three largest consumer electronics controllers for video games now have a MEMS device in them."

More than 150 executives from in and around the MEMS industry interacted with Meike, Ryhänen, Sinclair, McCauley and others at MEMS Executive Congress, a two-day conference exploring the commercial successes of MEMS across application areas.

Conference panelists also took a closer look at how MEMS is enabling low power, energy monitoring and conservation. Texas Instruments' VP of worldwide strategic marketing, Mark Denissen, talked about the importance of low power in the emerging category of pico projectors, a promising application space in which TI's DLP Technology is playing well. Denissen also drew a link between real-time sensors and data logging for healthcare: "For diseases like heart disease and diabetes, MEMS-based data loggers are needed to sense key attributes like pressure, motion, flowrate and chemicals. Getting power down supports meaningful data collection."

Crossbow's chief architect, Ralph Kling, described a future in which "metrics for sensor power consumption and energy harvesters are improving to a point of infinite battery life"—an achievement which should delight consumers and manufacturers alike.

MEMS research analysts shared recent market data, while acknowledging shifts influenced by the larger economy. Marlene Bourne, principal of Bourne Research, said that the "MEMS industry has enjoyed a good ride, with 20 years of growth," adding that the 3%–4% growth we will see in 2008 is reflective of the times. Jérémie Bouchaud, principal analyst for MEMS at iSuppli, claimed that consumer electronics and mobile phones will largely contribute to a growing MEMS market, which he expects will reach $8B in 2012. Bouchaud added that automotive, while suffering now, should rebound by Q4 2009. Jean-Christophe Eloy, founder and general manager of Yole Développement, is looking at a much bigger total MEMS market, predicting $15B by 2012 with drug delivery systems and RF MEMS growing most rapidly.

Karen Lightman, managing director of MEMS Industry Group, the industry organization hosting MEMS Executive Congress, said, "While MEMS will likely grow at a more modest pace in 2009, it's actually well positioned during these challenging economic times. Relative to competitive technologies, MEMS reduces cost and power and preserves small size—making it ideally suited for consumer electronics, mobile phones, home healthcare devices and a host of other applications."

About MEMS Executive Congress
MEMS Executive Congress is an annual event hosted by MEMS Industry Group, the trade association representing the MEMS and microstructures industries. The Congress is a unique professional forum at which executives from companies designing and manufacturing MEMS technology sit side-by-side with their end-user customers to discuss commercial uses of MEMS in consumer goods, energy/environmental, industrial, medical and telecom.

Sponsors of MEMS Executive Congress 2008 included: Analog Devices, Brewer Science, EV Group, Freescale Semiconductor, IceMOS Technology, Marketwire, Maxim Integrated Products, Micralyne, Okmetic, Plan Optik, SCHOTT Electronic Packaging, Surface Technology Systems (STS), SUSS MicroTec, SVTC, Tegal Corporation and Tronics Microsystems SA.

MEMS Executive Congress will be held again November 4–6, 2009 at The Lodge at Sonoma in Sonoma, CA. For more information, please contact MIG via phone: 412/390-1644, email: info@memsindustrygroup.org or Web: www.memscongress.com.

About MEMS Industry Group
MEMS Industry Group is the trade association representing the MEMS and microstructures industries. The Association enables the exchange of non-proprietary information among members; provides reliable industry data that furthers the development of technology; and works toward the greater commercial development and use of MEMS and MEMS-enabled devices. More than 80 companies comprise MIG, including Analog Devices, Applied Materials, Bosch, Draper Laboratory, Freescale, GE Global Research and GE Sensing, Honeywell, IBM, Intel, Kionix, Nanoshift, OMRON, Sand 9, STMicroelectronics, and Texas Instruments.


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