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MEMS The Word

Posted By Administration, Friday, November 21, 2014

 

FROM THE CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER

Steve Whalley

Of the hundreds of great ideas to come out of the 10th annual MEMS Executive Congress, I have the privilege to expound upon one - with the help of Co-Creation expert Francis Gouillart.

TIME for a MEMS and SENSOR LED REVOLUTION IN AGRICULTURE and FOOD

 

 

MIG MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

David Gaber, EPSON




Q: It’s our round – what are you having?

A. I’ll take a triple wheatgrass shot, please. The new Pulsense watch from Epson is helping me stay fit and healthy by delivering extremely accurate real-time data about my daily exercise regimen, heart rate and sleep patterns, right to my smartphone. Pulsense continuously detects heart rate from my wrist and monitors my sleep patterns utilizing Epson’s new optical and inertial sensing technologies.

Click here to read the entire interview with David Gaber...

 


Who brings you the sensors IoT leaders,
IN ONE PLACE at International CES 2105?

MIG does.


Click to view the conference agenda, register for the conference, or sponsor.

 

 

TODAY!!!
Google Hangout:Empowering the Connected Person through the IoT: Body & Wearable Health Innovations


Thursday, 20 November 2014 @ 11am ET
Hosted by IEEE-SA

Watch IEEE's next Google Hangout, where expert panelists will explore such difficult and thought-provoking questions in the area of health to help us better understand the landscape of wearables and body computing today, what types of exciting innovations we should be aware of, how the underlying technologies and supporting policies on identity and privacy would need to keep pace towards a world of “Connected People,” and where they see body computing and wearables going in the future.

Watch LIVE on Google Hangout here | Get more information

 

 

New links on the MIG website

2014 MEMS Executive Congress presentations

Live from the 2014 MEMS Executive Congress - videos!

WEBINARS [View all]

December 4, 2014
Press Relations 101

December 11, 2014
Mobile sensor deployment

 

 

UPCOMING MIG EVENTS

MIG at International CES 2015

MEC EU 2015 - Copenhagen

UPCOMING PARTNER EVENTS

mHealth Summit



 

 

NEW MIG MEMBERS - WELCOME!!!

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TIME FOR A MEMS AND SENSOR LED REVOLUTION IN AGRICULTURE AND FOOD

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 20, 2014

Francis Gouillart, President of the Co-Creation Experience Partnership; Steve Whalley, MEMS Industry Group, Chief Strategy Officer


The MEMS and sensor industry is at a crossroads, as 250 of its senior managers witnessed at the recent MEMS Industry Group Executive Congress held in Scottsdale, AZ. Like other early-stage industries, it can develop into a large, vibrant and innovative ecosystem. This is the good news. More frequently, though, promising industries turn into marginal backwaters of the economy we later refer to as “niches” or “specialty areas”, with little growth or innovation, largely because incumbent players make it so. This is the bad news.


These two diametrically opposed outcomes are not the result of some inexorable law of industry evolution. They are the result of the collective behavior of the early-stage industry’s actors, and of their willingness or refusal to engage with leading-edge customers in a process we call “co-creation.” In other words, the industry has the power to control its own destiny, but this requires a profound transformation of its traditional way of doing business. Not doing anything would be worst of all.


Let us take the agriculture and food value chain as an example, although the same principles would similarly apply to our energy, health or water issues. The first challenge is to be able to create food for 9 billion people by 2050, which represents a 69% production increase vs. today. Worse yet, the ag-food chain has settled in an industry structure that is dominated by a few players and generally low on innovation, making it unlikely that we will be able to feed 9 billion people by doing more of the same. Our challenge is also a whole lot bigger than volume and agricultural yield. Ideally, our food should be good-tasting, affordable, abundant, nutritious, traceable, local, as free as possible from chemicals, utilize as little energy and water as possible, treat animals humanely, sustain the land, and generate good returns for all players along the chain, including farmers in all parts of the world, allowing many of them to lift out of poverty.  It would also have lots of start-ups at each stage, sparking innovation and contributing to the migration of the old value chain to this new model.


Sadly, the ag-food value chain has largely settled into a pattern where our food is bland, expensive, of low nutritional value, and chemically-treated, demands a lot of energy and water, treats animals badly, and exhausts our land though monoculture. The value in that chain has largely been “confiscated” by manufacturers of Western seed, chemicals, farm equipment, traders, food manufacturers and retailers who generate good returns from this “locked in” value chain and control any innovation that would result into transforming the existing value chain into the new model. As a result, the ag-food chain is a flat, un-innovative, transaction-oriented industry, and the world is a worse place as a result.


Enter MEMS and sensors. The MEMS and sensor industry has the power to transform the global ag-food value chain and make it into the vibrant ecosystem it ought to be. In the vein of Peter Diamandis’ Abundance book we dream of MEMS and sensor technology companies coming out of their technological shadow, and engaging progressive farmers, foodies and chefs in all parts of the world, co-creating with them prototypes of the future sensor-enhanced transparent value chain for fish, meat, dairy, fruit, vegetable, beer or wine, and forcing incumbents to loosen their grips on the stale value chain of yesteryear. We dream of ordering a steak in a restaurant in Boston or Phoenix and being able to tell reliably on which ranch the animal was raised, whether it was given vaccines or antibiotics, how it was fed, how it was slaughtered, how the rest of the animal was used, how long the meat was aged, at what temperature it was kept and how it achieved this wonderful marbling and great taste in our dinner plate. Most importantly, we want the breeder, cattle rancher, slaughterhouse, restaurant owner, chef and consumer to use this data to build predictive models of good steak quality and collectively participate in the development of the new, more virtuous beef ecosystem we all aspire to.


This transformation will not happen by having MEMS and sensor companies go hat-in-hand to large incumbent cattle ranchers, slaughterhouses, beef traders, distributors and retailers, and ask them to put sensors at all stages of the chain and help us “follow the beef.” These incumbents have no business investing into transparency of the chain: they will tell you all this technology would do is raise their cost and besides, customers do not demand it. Although they won’t tell you, their greatest fear is that this would expose the dirty secrets of the industrial beef chain. This transformation will happen if MEMS and sensor companies engage “new wave” chefs and foodies who passionately love beef and have already developed relationships with progressive local cattle farmers who share the same view of sustainable beef. In the early stages, the market for these “enlightened” chefs, foodies and progressive farmers will be small in comparison to the industrial beef market, but foodies will convert the larger consumer market, the chef trend-setters will create a benchmark that the core of the restaurant market will soon have to follow, and new wave farmers will set a model that public authorities will demand from all farmers before too long.


The MEMS and sensor industry needs to think big, yet smart small, with very local experiments. We dream of MEMS and sensor experiments involving seafood in Boston, beef in Dallas or Buenos Aires, lettuce in San Francisco, cacao in Côte d’Ivoire, wine in Australia and cabbage in China. Each of these experiments constitutes a “sliver” of the larger ecosystem, and MEMS and sensor companies will have to prove success at that micro-level. We visualize co-creation workshops with a few well-known local chefs and their customers challenging local farmers to partner with MEMS and sensor technology companies in designing data-driven experiments aimed at defining what drives taste and affordability in the chosen agricultural product. We dream of open data sets where local computer science students develop predictive algorithms for food taste in partnership with foodies and chefs, where agricultural programs identify next practices from the data, and where local elected officials view MEMS and sensors as the backbone of their town’s future collaborative work programs involving agriculture and food.

 

There is some slowly growing evidence of this co-creation occurring, for example with the Steinbeck initiative between the Silicon Valley’s technology community and the Salinas Valley’s agricultural community in California, where some financial money is being raised to design experiments across the technology-ag-food chain in partnership with some public entities. The other good news is that the venture capital industry, traditionally focused on technology, is increasingly interested in agriculture and food, which has not historically been the case, possibly creating new sources of money for ecosystem-wide funding.


The time to act is now. On the supply side, the MEMS and sensor technologies are coming of age with higher volumes, lower costs and power, and we saw several promising new technologies relevant to agriculture and food at MEMS Executive Congress in Scottsdale, with a lot more to be developed. On the demand side, every major parts of the world has a group of chefs, food leaders and farmers who want to transform this long dormant value chain into a vibrant innovative ecosystem. Most of them do not yet know what MEMS and sensors can do for them. The MEMS and sensor industry has a moral duty to engage them and show them the art of the possible. Together, we can change the world of agriculture and food as we know it. 


If you are a MEMS and sensor company with technologies pertinent to the food-ag supply chain and interested in developing co-creation further in this area, please contact Stephen Whalley at swhalley@memsindustrygroup.org and Francis Gouillart at fgouillart@eccpartnership.com

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Inference and Context. Getting More Sense From Your Sensors

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, November 19, 2014

 

 

“Big Data” is a term you are hearing a lot these days.  Often the words sound like hype, but other times they are clear and contextual.   Usually hype is based on a good metaphor that is instantly visual to the general public.  As a friend at Google says, “the cloud is just the Internet plus a service.”  When it comes to IoT for the Enterprise, the latest concept is Fog Computing.  Fog is not an acronym.  It is a metaphor for bringing the cloud back to the edge. 

 

Embedded in the discussion about Fog Computing is the discussion of streaming distributed databases that store IoT information as close to the edge as appropriate.  These dynamic databases are being used to enable predictive solutions and are merged with other data sources.  In effect, this is the point where all sensor driven data is being used for business intelligence.

 

While the sensors give the factual information, often the use of big data is aimed at answering the question “Why?” These other data sources are adding the context to the information received from the sensors.   As the additional sources keep adding context, the company starts to infer from this data.  I have spoken with several thought leaders in the industry and many have indicated that they have gathered additional, useful information from the network around the sensors.  The inferences then lead to new requirements that impact the sensors.

 

We should expect the sensor’s capabilities to expand as a result of the inferences made from big data.  Another aspect is that we should expect that the information from the sensors will be used by more systems.  As businesses use the Internet to outsource to the cloud and manage internally, sensor security will become a challenge.

 

In the end, the functions designed must be considered dynamic and developing for the future has to include an ability to upgrade.

 

Discussing the future of sensors will be discussed at M2M Evolution http://www.m2mevolution.com, January 27-30 in Miami, Florida. All MEMS community will receive a 20% discount when they register here. For additional information about the event, contact Joann Varello at Joann@crossfiremedia.com

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Sensor Fusion and New Sensor Interface Developments Open Up Innovation

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 18, 2014

http://semico.com/content/sensor-fusion-and-new-sensor-interface-developments-open-innovation


TonyMassimini

 

published by Tony Massimini on Tue, 2014-11-11 23:36

 

Last week at the MEMS Executive Congress in Scottsdale, Arizona (Nov. 5-7, 2014) two separate announcements were made that will have long term impact on sensors. The MEMS Industry Group announced the first open source algorithm community for sensor fusion and the MIPI Alliance introduced a new sensor interface specification.

 

MIPI I3C


The I2C, also known as I Squared C, standard has been used extensively for sensor interface.  Many sensor hub controllers, mostly microcontrollers, use I2C for connecting to sensors.  But I2C has its limitations in terms of power, speed and scalability. SPI is another interface standard that is used for sensors, but this requires more pins.

 

MIPI is addressing the interface fragmentation and scalability issues with a new sensor interface specification, MIPI I3C. As that name implies it is backward compatible with I2C. But the new standard provides data throughput capabilities comparable to SPI. According to MIPI “the name MIPI SenseWire℠ will be used to describe the application of I3C℠ in mobile devices and the use of the I3C interface for mobile devices connecting to a set of sensors, directly or indirectly.”

 

This new standard has been developed because of the steadily growing proliferation of sensors in smartphones. A new standard was needed that could be scalable. MIPI has developed I3C with the participation of sensor vendors and other companies in the mobile ecosystem.

 

The I3C specification is scheduled for Working Group completion by the end of 2014.  Ratification and approval is expected in 1Q 2015. Speaking with MIPI it is possible that I3C could be implemented in devices by the end of 2015.

 

MIG AIC

 

The Accelerated Innovation Community (AIC) is the first open source algorithm cooperative for sensor fusion applications. The inaugural AIC member is Freescale which has provided support and innovation to AIC.

AIC’s goal is to accelerate sensor algorithm development. It enables collaborative sensor data collection. The intent is to foster open innovation to spur sensor applications.

 

For many semiconductor companies, software is not their main strength.  AIC will enable smaller players to move up the value chain.  Larger players will be able to offload and share R&D costs. An open source community will encourage others to develop different use cases and ecosystems. This will lead to greater diversification, lower cost for software development, and shorten the R&D cycle.

 

To kick off AIC Freescale is offering its Open Source Sensor Fusion Library which includes C source library for 3-, 6-, and 9- axis Sensor Fusion. There is also a Sensor Fusion Starter Kit that includes a Kinetis based (ARM MCU) development board. Freescale also offers customization services through its software services.

 

Other companies have quickly added support to AIC. Coming on board are Analog Devices, Berkley Sensor & Actuator Center, Carnegie Mellon University, Kionix and NIST. PNI Sensor Corp. will contribute three algorithms: quaternion to heading pitch and roll; heart rate monitoring using PPG sensor; and step counting.  Other MIG member companies are expected to join and provide further support over the next couple of months.

 

Semico Spin


The MIPI I3C standard and MIG AIC are completely separate developments that have no connection to each other. It is coincidental that they have been announced at the same time. Semico sees this as a serendipitous event. The two complement each other very well.  MIPI I3C addresses the hardware side of Sensor Fusion and MIG AIC addresses the software side.

 

MIPI I3C offers a new topology that will enable more sensors to be designed in.  While MIPI focuses on the smartphone and tablet markets, the technology is being leveraged into other applications. The standards are enabling other designs by expanding the capabilities of the ecosystem.

 

MIPI I3C will enable more flexible designs. Sensor data can be shared between an applications processor and a sensor hub controller. More than one sensor hub controller may be designed in sharing sensor data. Sensor Fusion algorithms can be partitioned among the application processor and sensor hub controllers for different applications. This will open up innovation for new applications.

 

MIG AIC will enable companies to address new applications which will utilize new designs developed around MIPI I3C. There will be more sensors, specialized algorithms which will become more complex.  Many system designers are not familiar with sensors and sensor fusion. MIG AIC will provide tools and software they will need to proliferate sensors into new markets.

 

A few months ago there were several mergers and acquisitions impacting sensor fusion. In May 2014, Fairchild announced the acquisition of Xsens, the Dutch company known for motion tracking software. On June 24, 2014 Audience announced it would acquire Sensor Platforms. On July 7, 2014 InvenSense announced it was acquiring two companies, Movea and Trusted Positioning, Inc. Thus, the only remaining independent third party sensor fusion developer without a competing chip is Hillcrest Labs.

 

There was concern at the time that these developments might stifle sensor fusion development. Chip companies wanted to integrate more IP in their respective technologies. The recent announcement of MIG AIC opens up sensor fusion to many more developers. Semico believes that along with MIPI I3C, there will be accelerated development for sensor fusion across new markets.

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Musical MEMS?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Written by: Stephen Whalley, Chief Strategy Officer, MEMS Industry Group

 

I had the pleasure of attending the 8th Annual Body Computing Conference on October 3rd 2014.  This was the second year I have attended, and once again it did not disappoint.  In one jam-packed day, this conference spearheaded by Dr. Leslie Saxon, Executive Director USC Center For Body Computing, brought together digital health rock stars of innovation from startups to the traditional establishments, investors, academics, athletes, and the general healthcare and technology supply chain.  While I could point out a number of interesting new devices, software, APPs and services that were announced at the conference, I’d like to give a brief mention of just one.

 

SingFit is a musical therapy mobile app.  It’s actually a bit of a stretch to mention it at all as it uses little to no MEMS technology.  I highlight it though as it won the Body Computing and Skullcandy SLAM contest.  The win highlights a growing trend in using music as a way to help patients comply with their therapies.  It is also fun and shows great results.  Rachel Francine and Andy Tubman developed and created the SingFit app to find new solutions for everything from autism and depression to chronic pain and Parkinson's disease, by using the world's oldest medicine, music, in a 21st century fashion. SingFit digitizes the evidence-based music therapy technique of lyric prompting, which enables practically everyone, including those with dementia, autism and traumatic brain injuries to sing on a regular basis in order to achieve therapeutic goals.  The videos that Andy showed at the event were truly inspiring.  They motivated me to think about what could be done if more MEMS and sensors were used in this way.

 

The Body Computing Conference topics and general industry landscape point to MEMS/sensors being front and center of the mobile health and handheld/wearable device discussion. During the conference, various speakers mentioned the current and future use and impact of MEMS/sensors throughout the day.

 

While there have been tremendous advancements in MEMS over the past two decades to meet the demanding needs of high-volume automotive and consumer electronics, we are still in our relative infancy when it comes to small form factor, low-power, low-cost mobile biosensors being applied in wellness and medical applications to deliver an easy-to-use consumer experience.  As one analyst and panel discussion pointed out, the future is not wearable…it’s invisible.  Is the MEMS/sensor industry capable of delivering on this future anytime soon?  When will implantable sensors, skin tattoo sensors and sensor-based clothing actually be a reality for the masses?  Lots more work to do here whether you believe it’s upon us already or will happen for the next generation.

 

The ‘more work to do’ aspect has got to involve closer cooperation between the healthcare industry and MEMS/sensor technologists.  While Dr. Saxon ‘s work and conference are a bright spot in bringing technological innovation into healthcare settings, and AliveCor is a notable success story here, we are just scratching the surface of the opportunity and the challenges still to come.

 

The good news is that many individuals, companies and industry bodies are coming together to discuss and debate the issues.  We need to move quickly to not just observe these challenges but to join and co-create the future of digital health. MEMS Industry Group has formed a healthcare working group to focus on what we can do to better serve not only the needs of our members and industry but to see how we can better serve the needs of the healthcare industry and our co-creation partners there.  There will be a panel and topic table session on this at the upcoming MEMS Executive Congress US 2014, November 5-7, Scottsdale, AZ.  Come sing, dance and co-create with us!

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Karen’s Blog - Pittsburgh IMAPS Workshop

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Packaging means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Webster’s dictionary defines package as a “group or a number of things, boxed and offered as a unit.”

 

For my school-age daughters, packaging means figuring out how to maximize the components of their lunch into these bento-box-like containers I bought at Target in hopes that it would simplify their packaging and assembling process (at low cost and decent performance, mind you). Two months into the school year the packaging appears to be weathering extreme temperatures (cold fridge to hot dishwasher), drop-tests (I am sure you need no explanation here) and what I can only describe as a “cram test” (how many Oreos can you fit inside without the box breaking or my parents noticing).

 

But if you are in the microelectronics/MEMS industry, when you hear the word packaging your mind goes to the various MEMS packages that can contain a multitude of electrical and mechanical components that are inter-connected to the outside world for devices such as MEMS microphones, airbag accelerometers, gyros, RF MEMS and the list just goes on and on.

 

I had the pleasure to learn more about the challenges and opportunities affecting MEMS packaging at a recent International Microelectronics Assembly and Packaging Society (IMAPS) workshop held in my hometown of Pittsburgh and at my alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Presenters included our host, Gary Fedder, CMU’s Director of the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems (ICES); Maarten de Boer, CMU Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering; Brett Diamond, MEMS Development Manager, Akustica; Erdinc Tatar, CMU Graduate Student; and yours truly.

 

To say that my presentation was different from the others is a gross understatement – I talked about the potential for MEMS and sensors in the expanding world of Internet of Things (IoT) as well as an overview of MEMS/sensors standardization and the proactive role that MEMS Industry Group (MIG) and my partners/members/colleagues are playing in addressing the remaining challenges to commercialization. You can access my presentation on the MIG resource library webpage (no password required).

 

As the others’ presentations are not posted (at least to my knowledge) I figure I’d give you a quick synopsis of what I learned and heard. Gary basically gave an overview about how amazing and fantastic CMU’s engineering, robotics and computer science departments are and that CMU is now partnering and working with universities and centers around the globe. Literally. They even have two programs going on in China.

 

Maarten’s presentation on the “Effect of Gas Environment and Materials on Electrical Contact Reliability in Micro- and Nanoswitches” was illuminating as I am somewhat familiar with the work that GE Global Research is doing on RF MEMS switches and am aware of the incredible market potential for this area (I wrote a featured blog on this topic for GE’s “Edison’s Desk” earlier this year). Maarten and his colleagues at CMU are taking this a bit further, by looking into different materials and applications at the nano scale.

 

Brett’s presentation on “Challenges in the Design, Manufacturing, and Usage of MEMS Microphones” was really impressive as it gave a very in-depth view of the true challenges of packaging a device that by design needs to be open to the environment. No small task and it was equally exciting to hear Brett hint at the future applications and integrations with their MEMS mic’s (I will not repeat them here at the risk of disclosing something I shouldn’t). But let’s just say that the market applications for MEMS microphones are just at the beginning – the potential is really big.

 

Erdinc’s presentation on “Environmental and Packaging Effects on High-Performance Gyroscopes” revealed why so many engineers love their work in the lab – as they are able to tinker and explore with new materials and processes. It’s another reason why I love my work in MEMS/sensors – because there is still an opportunity for “new science.”

 

MIG helped sponsor the event by providing snacks (including some great chocolate cookie/pie things that melted in my mouth) for the attendees to enjoy while attending the workshop and to facilitate networking. What I learned at the workshop confirmed what I suspected before – packaging is in the eye of the beholder – and at the end of the day what really matters is that the package is at a cost that is reflective of its application and performance expectations.  Therefore, it’s important to communicate those expectations from both the user and supplier’s perspectives.

 

Packaging means a lot of different things and if done well it can mean the difference between success and failure. Or in my daughters’ case, deciding on how many Oreos to fit into the package before it fails and Mom finds out.

 

To access Karen’s presentation, click here.

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Sensory Shanghai

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 18, 2014

September 18, 2014/ MEMS INDUSTRY GROUP


Written by: Stephen Whalley, Chief Strategy Officer, MEMS Industry Group


It was over 10 years ago that I last visited Shanghai and oh my, how things have changed, most visibly, the skyline.  Looking across the Huangpu River from The Bund back then, I clearly remember the ‘Pearl’ TV tower and a few tall buildings and thought how impressive it looked.  Now, the view is an even more sumptuous feast for the eyes, day or night, and it keeps on growing and evolving.  So too does the connectivity of the buildings and the people that live and work in Shanghai as the Internet of ‘Things’ brings it all together locally and globally.

 

Shanghai circa 2001

Shanghai city photo 1

 

Shanghai 2014

Shanghai city photo 2

 

I was in Shanghai to co-host the inaugural MEMS Industry Group (MIG) Conference Shanghai, September 11-12th, with our local partners, the Shanghai Industrial Technology Research Institute (SITRI) and the Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology (SIMIT).  The theme was the Internet of Things and how the MEMS and Sensors supply chain needs to evolve to address the explosive growth in China.

 

As one of our featured speakers, Jérémie Bouchaud of IHS pointed out, China-based smartphone vendors such as Lenovo, Huawei, ZTE, Xiaomi Technology and Oppo collectively make China the third largest handset manufacturer globally behind Apple and Samsung.  With each handset having a dozen or more MEMS and sensor components, it’s easy to see why China’s government, research organizations, OEMs and investment funds are paying attention to this market.  They also see where it’s going beyond these mobile consumer electronic devices of today.  With the rise of smart cities, buildings, farms, homes, vehicles, wearable devices and more — where clusters of sensors abound — the hockey-stick growth predictions are gathering momentum.

 

With that background, over 150 attendees from China and 15 other countries came together to hear and discuss what’s needed to meet this opportunity.  New technologies and products, fabs, funding and city infrastructure were all covered throughout the conference.  It was clear that the international MEMS/sensors suppliers do not want to blink and miss the opportunity (as some already have, and to their detriment) and that the local MEMS/sensors community wants to ensure they do all they can to build a self-sustaining supply chain in and around Shanghai.  MEMS Industry Group members can access all the great presentations here.

 

For the time being, the potential and high stakes for all sides means that the Shanghai skyline will be a familiar sight for locals and visitors to cast their eyes, and ‘inter-nets,’ over.  And just as the skyline has grown dramatically, it appears the MEMS and sensors industry in China is on the rise too.

 

To view photos of the inaugural event, visit our Flickr page!

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The race to commercialize graphene is on

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 18, 2014

By Paul Werbaneth, MEMS Industry Group

 

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2014 issue of Micro Manufacturing.microplus_00034_full_00066microplus_00034_full_00065

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Industry Survey: The Southwest Center for Microsystems Education

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Submitted by The Southwest Center for Microsystems Education


The Southwest Center for Microsystems Education, a National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Center, is working on a project to better understand the current state of the micro and nanotechnology based industry technician workforce. Through this project, we aim to enable our center to best support Community Colleges’ efforts to start micro and nano technology programs that use SCME developed curricula.

 

One goal of this project will be a map of the related, hi-tech industries relative to their local Community Colleges.  We can then identify which regions our programs will make the greatest impact.  This allows us to advocate and support the adoption of micro and nano education by Community Colleges on behalf of their regional micro and nano and related industries.

 

Click here to view the last revision of the map and hiring data through 2012.


Our second goal will be a trend analysis of several mapped industries.  The SCME has divided the micro-nano related industries into several categories based on specialty and industry revenue.  We aim to identify at least ten companies in each bracket and to determine their workforce needs so that we can target our educational impact efforts to yield the best results for both industry and education!  These trends are presented to the Community Colleges near micro and nano tech related clusters, to provide a justification for incorporating microsystems based curricula into their programs.  This enables the SCME to distribute scarce educational resources into the educational institutions where their impact will be the highest, resulting in a more informed and capable workforce.

 

This is where we need your help!   As leaders in MEMS and related industries, please completing the survey found by clicking the following link:

 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RK6TG55


Aggregate findings will be shared with you as well as information pertaining to educational resources that will assist you as you build your technician workforce pipeline and enable you to be in a better position to plan workforce growth.  Please consider collaborating with SCME to support our shared industrial workforce educational improvement goals!

 

Previous MIG Blog:

 

http://memsblog.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/survey-the-southwest-center-for-microsystems-education/

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SEMICON West Wrap-Up

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Two weeks ago, MIG had a wonderful time at SEMICON West, participating in a variety of constructive and gratifying industry-focused networking opportunities.  The Jam-packed event saw both MIG and its members engage in everything from demonstrations to cocktail receptions.
Chivonne & Monica say, "Thanks for a great time at SEMICON West!"
Chivonne & Monica say, "Thanks for a great time at SEMICON West!"

Over 30 member companies exhibited on the show floor, showing off their latest in equipment, materials, packaging solutions, design automation tools, foundry services, product development and R&D, while still more members busied themselves with private appointments off of the show floor.

 

MIG welcomed increased traffic at our booth, showing just how relevant MEMS has become, while reinforcing why an industry association is the key to connecting to partners to increase business opportunities. The MIG team enthusiastically spoke about the benefits of joining MEMS Industry Group while promoting our members to interested individuals.

 

SEMI hosted their traditional MEMS content entitled, “Next Generation MEMS”, on Tuesday, July 8th.  This content featured all MIG member and partner companies, including Yole DéveloppementQulacommSilex MicrosystemsGE Global ResearchSi-WareSolMateSNIST and EV Group. Shared content emphasized new challenges and opportunities for the MEMS supply chain to meet the needs of the expanding range of mobile devices, wearables and smart objects in the Internet of Things.

 

MIG also hosted its increasingly-popular cocktail party at Restaurant Lulu on Wednesday night, July 9th.  With over 300 people in attendance, it was THE place to be for MIG members to meet and network.

 

MIG would like to thank our Platinum Sponsor Plan Optik and Bronze Sponsors C2MIExpertech and Oxford Instruments for making SEMICON West and the cocktail party possible. If you want to relive the memories or are curious about what you missed, be sure to check out photos from the event.

 

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What's Driving Wearables? MIG's Karen Lightman Discusses in INNO Magazine

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Untitled

 

MIG's very own Karen Lightman recently graced the front page of IVAM Microtechnology Network's INNO magazine with her thorough discussion of MEMS and wearables.  In the piece, Karen talks about the US' disposition to focus on wearables technology, while other areas of the world spend their time and resources elsewhere, and how we're backing these efforts with crowdfunding support.  To read Karen's thoughts on this explosive industry, head to ivam.de and download the pdf!

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Sensor Fusion in a State of Flux as Companies Fuse Together

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Guest post by Tony Massimini, Semico Research


There has been a great deal of activity among companies within the sensor fusion ecosystem. Mergers and acquisitions are changing the competitive landscape.

 

As a quick background, sensor fusion is the technology of combining data from multiple sensors and deriving intelligence from that data.  It is the foundation for motion tracking, navigation, context awareness, location based services, augmented reality and more.  It is the basis for future innovative applications.  The brains behind sensor fusion is in the algorithms.  This is usually embedded in a 32-bit microcontroller core or similarly powerful processing device, known as a sensor hub.

 

In May 2014, Fairchild announced the acquisition of Xsens the Dutch company known for motion tracking software.  Xsens has been doing motion tracking for film and other such applications.  It has modules with low cost consumer grade inertial motion MEMS sensors from STMicroelectronics.  At the time of the acquisition, Fairchild also announced that it would be bringing MEMS sensors to market soon as well.

 

In the last couple of weeks there has been a flurry of activity amongst the sensor fusion ecosystem players.  On June 24, 2014 Audience announced it would acquire Sensor Platforms.  The buyout is expected to be complete by mid-July 2014.  On July 7, 2014 InvenSense announced it was acquiring two companies, Movea and Trusted Positioning, Inc.  These acquisitions are to be finalized by the end of September 2014.

 

Audience is a relatively small company with about $150 million in annual sales.  It has been known mainly for voice and sound processing.  It was designed into the Apple iPhone 4S but did not maintain its design win in Apple’s next generation iPhone.  Sensor Platforms is a third-party sensor fusion algorithm developer.  The company has been focused on context awareness and indoor navigation.  Sensor Platforms licenses its algorithm to OEMs and to sensor hub chip vendors.  Audience had been working with Sensor Platforms for its always-on sensor fusion for voice and motion and decided to acquire the company for $41 million.  The name of Sensor Platforms will no longer be used following completion of the acquisition.

 

Audience also has a motion processor, MQ100, which will launch late 2014.  This is a DSP based device which will function as a sensor hub controller.  The sensor fusion algorithm developed with Sensor Platforms will be embedded in MQ100.

 

InvenSense has been a fast growing company delivering inertial motion sensors (gyroscope, accelerometer magnetometer) in multi-chip packages with its digital motion processor.  The company has been focused on motion tracking and pedestrian navigation for mobile devices and wearables.  At the end of 2013 it acquired the microphone business of Analog Devices.  Movea, like Sensor Platforms, is a sensor fusion algorithm developer which licenses the algorithm to OEMs and sensor hub controller vendors.  Movea provides of software for ultra-low power location, activity tracking and context sensing.  Its IP is found in consumer mobile (smartphones and tablets), TV interaction and wearable sports & fitness applications.  Movea’s context analysis uses both motion and audio sensors.

 

Trusted Positioning Inc. (TPI) is a software company providing indoor/outdoor positioning solution for mobile and wearable devices.  This has been a key area of development for InvenSense.  TPI’s platform also provides inertial navigation software solutions for in-vehicle navigation, personnel tracking, and machine guidance and control.

 

Semico Spin


Semico has stated several times that the value for Sensor Fusion is in the algorithm.  The average selling prices for the sensors are falling rapidly.  The hardware is becoming more of a commodity.

 

These acquisitions show that the chip vendors want to add value to their products.

 

Sensor fusion is expanding to include more data sources.  Sound for always-on context awareness and to provide spatial awareness is the next step.  Therefore, the microphones are key elements.  More sensors for biological and environmental data will come into use.  InvenSense, Audience and Fairchild want to integrate more IP in their respective technologies.

 

Sensor fusion is moving beyond smartphones and tablets into wearables and other products.  At a MEMS Industry Group panel at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 2014, Semico stated that wearables with 9-axis or more and sensor fusion features would be a high growth market.  It was at CES 2014 that InvenSense and Movea in separate announcements revealed they had reference platforms for wearables with 9+ axis sensor fusion.  Clearly both companies were on the same page at that time.

 

Impact on the Market


Less than a year ago, there were four companies licensing sensor fusion algorithms: PNI Sensor, Sensor Platforms, Movea and Hillcrest Labs.

 

In June 2013 PNI announced an ASIC, Sentral, which embeds its algorithm.  It still licenses its algorithm but on a selective and strategic basis.

 

Following these recent acquisitions, it is assumed that licensing commitments involving Sensor Platforms and Movea will be honored.  It seems to Semico that it is unlikely future licenses will be extended.  Both InvenSense and Audience will have sensor hub controllers in competition with other companies.  Thus, the only remaining independent third party sensor fusion developer without a competing chip is Hillcrest Labs.

 

Hillcrest Labs has a wide customer base.  In March 2014, it was announced that Hillcrest Labs and Bosch Sensortec were collaborating on a sensor hub solution for head mounted displays and wearable devices.  Following the recent announcements concerning their competitors, Hellcrest Labs has seen an uptick in interest for their products.

 

OEMS want options and do not want to be locked into one supplier.  Semico believes that one option sensor hub vendors and OEMs will pursue is to develop their own in-house sensor fusion algorithms.  However, this expertise is in short supply.  This is a specialized area of study.  Even with a strong team it could take one to two years to get up to speed.

 

The market for sensor fusion and sensor hub controllers is growing rapidly.  Smartphones are currently the largest market, but the technology is being leveraged into other areas, especially wearable devices for sport, health, fitness and medical.

 

Semico forecasts that the market for sensor hub controllers will reach 2.5 billion units by 2018, CAGR (’13 to ’18) 27.4%.  The wearable market will see CAGR of 114% reaching over 300 million units for devices with 9-axes or more.

 

MEMS revenues due to sensor fusion will grow to $7.7 billion by 2018 CAGR (’13 to ’18) of 20.3%.  In 2013 MEMS revenues in sensor fusion applications account for 23.6% of the total MEMS market.  By 2018, this will grow to 34% of the MEMS market.

 

For more detailed information on the sensor fusion market and the companies mentioned in this blog, please contact Rick Volgelei at rickv@semico.com.  

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Hilton Head 2014 Wrapup – 30 years of MEMS!

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 17, 2014

Guest post by Eric Levy-Myers


This was the 30th anniversary of the Hilton Head conference and the mood was one of amazement of how far the industry has come since the first meeting 30 years ago. The conference chairman noted that solid state sensors have taken over the world if only evidenced by the fact there are more smart phones than tooth brushes in the world. This set the stage for an underlying question of the conference: what happens to MEMS in the next 30 years? The Rump Session on Wednesday evening addressed the topic with special speakers.

 

The first day of the conference focused on Bio MEMS. In the first plenary session, Dr. Oliver Paul of the University of Freiburg spoke of directly linking to the brain to both sense and stimulate neurons. He noted with some humor that the brain has 10 to the 11th neurons. So given the number of neurons we can sense today, and a Moore’s law for probe sensors that doubles every 7 years, the curve says that we will be able to sense all the brains neurons by 2240.

 

The meat of his talk focused on four areas of invasive brain systems:

  1. Epicardial Grids that lay on the surface of the brain to control external machines such as robots for paraplegics to feed themselves.
  2. Array implants to sample many points in the brain.
  3. Deep Brain Probes to regulate diseases such as Parkinson’s.
  4. New Optical Stimulation technology that stimulate neurons based on wavelengths tuned to specific neuron types.

There are many challenges to getting these technologies into broad use, not least of which is the brain’s immune system attacks the probes rendering them useless in weeks or months. The research papers presented in the later sessions detailed how researchers are trying to overcome these and other challenges with Biomedical and Cellular Devices, and Bioassays.

 

Day two at the conference focused on the physical aspects of MEMS devices and fabrication. The plenary speaker Dr. Robert Carpick of the University of Pennsylvania introduced us to a term that most people had not heard of, “Tribology”.  As he explained; “We did not like the term ‘science and engineering of interacting surfaces in relative motion’ so we grabbed Greek words to make the word Tribology.” His thesis was that at the macro level, scientists and engineers understand how surfaces in contact interact.  They have methods to reduce the effects of this contact such as friction and material exchange. But at the MEMS level much less is known.  This is one reason MEMS devices avoid contact points and why MEMS manufacturers can be so frustrated by stiction or stickiness. Dr. Carpick explained several areas that hold promise to allow MEMS parts to touch and rub indefinitely without ill effect. One method was to have a sealed system fill with alcohol. The research papers in the technical session extended the topics to include Materials and Surfaces, Fabrication & Materials and Magnetic Transducers.

 

The Day three plenary speaker Dr. Kurt Petersen brought us his vast experience in successful entrepreneurship with MEMS companies and shared his lessons of what makes for successful startups. He set a very optimistic tone for the future of MEMS, one that is bright but not a given.   So he offered many juicy tidbits for anyone who wants to successfully start, run and exit a business. There were too many to repeat here, but these stood out:

  • Have a great team that is persistent and dedicated to the company’s vision.
  • Get your product into production fast. This fit well with the advice from the Sunday Workshop session where “fail fast so you can learn and adapt fast” was a theme.
  • Know your market inside and out because the investors will.
  • Inventing is great, but designing for manufacturing and efficient production is probably more important. You cannot make money if you cannot make and test it economically.

The afternoon research papers covered the latest research in High Q Resonators and Resonant Systems, promising, as did all the papers, much more MEMS innovation to come in the future.

 

The Rump Session highlighted the Sigma Group, a collection of SciFi writers that are distinguished by their previous careers as scientists, engineers and program managers. They also use these skills to advise the government about future issues of concern and opportunity. They spent the week talking to participants in the conference to gather data, so in the session they offered many insights.  After beers they shared even more interesting ideas and interactions with the audience!

 

Since the chair of the panel and the writers noted that SciFi correctly predicted most aspects of the internet and sensors we use today, we can perhaps assume today’s wild predictions are not as wild as we think. Perhaps the most interesting idea had to do with the brain systems discussed on day one.  Why not implant something that grows fiber into the nose that will enter the brain with millions of micro -strands that can act as probes. Overall, attendees and presenters at Hilton Head 2014 expressed much optimism that the MEMS industry will continue to grow into more unexpected parts of our lives as we move to a world of trillions of sensors and the internet of things.

 

The next conference is in Anchorage Alaska in June 2015. Hope to see you all there.

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One-stop-fusion-shopping at freescale.com/sensorfusion

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 17, 2014

Guest post by Mike Stanley, Systems Engineer at Freescale


Back in February, I wrote an article describing the Xtrinsic sensor fusion library for Kinetis MCUs. Over the intervening months, we've made a number of improvements:

  • Demo and Development versions of the kit have been consolidated into a single installer that covers all options.
  • The limited "Evaluation" version has been removed. In its place, we offer free board-locked licenses tied to your Freedom development board. Licenses are generated automatically during the installation procedure.  You now have access to the full development version with your first download.
  • We've added support for two new base boards, bringing the total to four: FRDM-KL25ZFRDM-KL26ZFRDM-K20D50M and FRDM-K64F.
  • We've updated the Xtrinsic Sensor Fusion Toolbox for Android to support the new boards.  We also added several neat new features I'll mention below.
  • We've published our Xtrinsic Sensor Fusion Toolbox for Windows.  It's not a clone of the Android variant, although there are some common features.  It goes will beyond that tool, offering a deeper understanding into some of the underlying calibration and fusion routines.
  • We've reworked the Android app landing page into a one-stop-shop for all things related to sensor fusion.  Visit http://www.freescale.com/sensorfusion to find convenient links for everything you'll need to get your project started.  That includes all of the above, plus training materials, and a link to the Freescale Software Services group.  They can provide quotes for production software licenses and custom consulting work.

Figure 1 will look familiar to readers who have experimented with the Xtrinsic Sensor Fusion Toolbox for Android. The rotating PCB display shown here was inspired by that app.  The Windows version gives you some really nice additions.  First and foremost are support (via UART/USB wired connections) for the FRDM-FXS-9AXIS and FRDM-FXS-MULTI sensor boards.  Unlike the FRDM-FXS-MULTI-B board, these do not have Bluetooth modules, and cannot be used with the Android version of the toolbox.  That's no problem for the Windows variant, which uses the virtual serial port feature of the OpenSDA interface to talk with the boards.  Simply plug your boards into your Windows machine, start the application and click the "Auto Detect" button you see in the upper right of the figure.  The application will cycle through your PCs serial ports until it finds one connected to a Freedom board and running the template app from the Xtrinsic Sensor Fusion Library for Kinetis MCUs.  And if you have a Bluetooth enabled PC, pair it to your FRDM-FXS-MULTI-B and run wirelessly.  The communications interface is the same from the perspective of the Windows GUI.

 

pc_app_device_view.png

 

Figure 1: Xtrinsic Sensor Fusion Toolbox for Windows - Device View


Just like the Android version, you can select from a variety of fusion algorithms.  Also shown are the version of embedded firmware running on your Freedom board, along with the type of board (assuming you have debug packets enabled on the board).

 

pc_app_sensors_view.png

Figure 2: Xtrinsic Sensor Fusion Toolbox for Windows - Sensors View


Figure 2 shows you the "Sensors" view of the application.  Here you have current values and value versus time plots for raw accelerometer and gyro readings, plus calibrated magnetometer.

 

pc_app_dynamics_view.png

Figure 3: Xtrinsic Sensor Fusion Toolbox for Windows - Dynamics View


The "Dynamics" view, shown in Figure 4, lets you look at some of the virtual sensor outputs from the sensor fusion library.  These include orientation in roll/pitch/compass heading form, angular velocity and acceleration.  You might wonder what the difference is between "angular velocity" and the gyro readings on the "Sensors" page.  If your algorithm selection supports a physical gyro, then the values in Figure 3 have had gyro offsets subtracted from them.  If your algorithm does not include gyro support, then the angular velocity included here is the result of a "virtual gyro calculation" (see "Building a virtual gyro").

 

The accelerometer reading on the "Sensors" page included the effects of both gravity and linear acceleration.  The "Acceleration" item on the "Dynamics" page has had the effects of gravity removed, so it represents only the linear acceleration of your board.

 

pc_app_magnetics_view.png

Figure 4: Xtrinsic Sensor Fusion Toolbox for Windows - Magnetics View


I think Figure 4 shows the neatest feature introduced in the toolbox.  Those of you who have seen prior generations of Freescale magnetometer demos will recognize computed hard and soft iron correction coefficients on the left, along with our "magnetic calibration meter".  What's new is the 3D-to-2D projection shown on the right.  These are the measured data points selected by the magnetic calibration library for use in determining the correction coefficients.  Ideally, the figure should be circular in shape, be centered at 0,0 and have a radius equal to the magnitude of the earth magnetic field.  Nearby magnets, fixed spatially relative to the sensor, will shift the center to some non-zero value.  Ferrous materials, fixed spatially relative to the sensor, will distort the circle into an ellipsoid, and possibly rotate it.   If sources of interference are not fixed relative to the sensor, you'll still see distortion, but it will not behave in as predictable a fashion, and isn't as easily corrected.   It's educational to bring your board near sources of magnetic interference, and watch how the constellation will distort, then self-repair over time.

 

android_app_device_view.png

Figure 5: Xtrinsic Sensor Fusion Toolbox for Android - Device View


Figures 5 and 6 are screen dumps from the latest version of the Xtrinsic Sensor Fusion Toolbox for Android.  If you enable display of debug packet information in the preferences screen, you'll get additional information displayed on the device view:

  • The version of software running on your development board (Version 417 in this case)
  • The number of ARM CPU "systicks" occurring during one iteration of the main sensor fusion loop.  Take this number, divide by the CPU clock rate, and you have the number of seconds required for each iteration through the loop.  For the case above, 514,860/48MHz = 10.7ms.  The number is computed in real time, and changes depending upon which algorithm you are running.
  • The board type you are using (a lot of the boards look alike)

I should mention that all of the above are also shown in the "Device" tab in the Windows-based toolbox.

 

android_app_canvas_view.png

Figure 6: Xtrinsic Sensor Fusion Toolbox for Windows - Canvas View

 

Figure 6 shows the new "Canvas View" which was just added to the Android version of the Toolbox.  It demonstrates how we could use the sensor fusion quaternion output to create a wireless pointer.  The accel/gyro and 9-axis algorithms work best.  The 3-axis options are pretty much worthless due to basic limitations of using just those sensors, although I will note that gyro-based air mice are possible, just not with this particular algorithm. Check/UnCheck the "Absolute" checkbox on the Fusion Settings Bar to switch between the "absolute" and "relative" versions of the wireless pointer algorithm.  And be sure to read the "Canvas" chapter of the in-app documentation to get full details about how it works.

 

Our goal with the new http://www.freescale.com/sensorfusion page is to give you everything you need to get started quickly.  Relevant hardware, libraries, tools, training materials and support options have been brought together in one place.  If you already have the CodeWarrior for Kinetis MCUs IDE installed on your Windows machine, and have your development boards on hand, you can be up and running ten minutes from the time you land on the page.  And as always, if you have suggestions or ideas for how to improve things, just drop me a line.

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Report from Hilton Head 2014 Solid State Sensors, Actuators and Microsystems Conference

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 17, 2014

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 By Eric Levy-Meyers on behalf of MEMS Industry Group

 

Greetings from the Hilton Head 2014 Solid State Sensors, Actuators and Microsystems Conference. On June 8, I attended the optional Sunday Workshop: Frontiers of Characterization and Metrology for Micro- and Nano-Systems organized by Michael Gaitan of National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) and sponsored by MEMS Industry Group (MIG), who gathered a great group of speakers to address this topic.

 

NIST organized this session for the second time at Hilton Head. This program is designed to facilitate the process of improving the standardization of testing and standards that started at MIG’s Member-to-Member (M2M) Forum in 2010 and led to the NIST/MIG report “MEMS Testing Standards: A Path to Continued Innovation.” It was apparent from the interactions that the industry has realized that cooperation in the precompetitive space of testing and characterization must increase to allow the industry to grow and innovate.

 

At the Micro-Nano workshop at Hilton Head there were eight fascinating talks followed by a very lively panel discussion about the challenges and issues in MEMS characterization and testing. A few of the juicy conclusions are below. For all the details, be sure to subscribe to MEMSBlog so you can access later this week to get the whole report, which should be ready later this summer (free and available for anyone to download).

 

Key issues discussed include: 

  • Manufactures and users always find ways to use, and sometimes damage, MEMS devices in ways no designer or tester could predict. An example was a “blow out the birthday cake candles” Smart Phone application that had users blew into the microphone. Well, it took a while to link the app to damaged microphones (whoops).
  • Testers are not the bad guys – but they can deliver results people do not like to hear. But the faster people listen, the faster the devices can be fixed. In fact, “fail fast” can be a good approach to getting the best product out the door the fastest.
  • Since testing of MEMS devices leads to discovering novel failure modes, testing, failure analysis, manufacturing and design teams should be in close and continuous contact, especially in high volume systems.
  • The fact that customers always want devices that have more features and are faster, smaller and cheaper, leads to huge pressure on testing which never seems to have enough time to get ready for production.
  • New device types often require custom testing equipment and procedures, but over time, as these devices become more common, testing can be standardized.
  • It is easy to rely too much on tools instead of engineering intuition. There is no substitute for real world experience.

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Calling all Innovators to Help Save Our Oceans

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 17, 2014

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Guest Blog by Matt Huelsenbeck, Team Relations Manager, XPRIZE

 

A major problem facing the ocean is that air pollution is also ocean pollution. The surface ocean layer has become on average 30% more acidic since the Industrial Revolution due to the absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These changes in ocean chemistry, dubbed ocean acidification, threaten many forms of marine life, fisheries, and other vital ocean services. But due to a lack of good tools to measure pH, there is little to no information on how ocean pH is changing on a regional level, or in places like the deep sea. We can’t tackle a problem we know so little about.

 

Therefore, the XPRIZE Foundation, the leading non-profit that’s solving the world’s Grand Challenges through large-scale incentivized prize competitions, is collaborating with ocean philanthropist Wendy Schmidt to offer $2 million dollars in prizes to address ocean acidification through the development of breakthrough pH sensor technology. The winning pH sensor(s) of the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE will be radically more accurate, durable, and affordable. This is where you come in.

 

We are looking for teams of innovators to compete in this once-in-a lifetime competition to help tackle the issue of ocean acidification! Would you or someone you know, be interested in forming or joining a team? Skills as diverse as electrical engineering, materials science, data science, nanotechnology and chemistry could be part of the winning team. Registration is open, but closing soon, and we encourage you to fill out the Intent to Compete form today. By submitting your intent to compete form, you can build or join a team made up of innovators like yourself.

 

There are two prize purses available (teams may compete for, and win, both purses):

 

$1,000,000 Accuracy award – Performance focused (First Place: $750,000, Second Place: $250,000): To the teams that navigate the entire competition to produce the most accurate, stable and precise pH sensors under a variety of tests.

 

$1,000,000 Affordability award – Cost and Use focused (First Place: $750,000, Second Place: $250,000): To the teams that produce the least expensive, easy-to-use, accurate, stable, and precise pH sensors under a variety of tests. 
 
This is your chance to apply your skills to help improve our understanding of one of the oceans greatest threats, ocean acidification, and win up to $2 million dollars in the process! We hope to see you compete.

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MIG Conference Japan Wrap-Up

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 17, 2014

By Karen Lightman, Executive Director

 

I am finally over the jet lag and able to share my thoughts from MEMS Industry Group (MIG) Conference Japan, MIG’s inaugural conference in Asia that was held on April 24. But first let me quickly express my happiness to have returned to Japan after a three+ year hiatus. (My last visit was before the tsunami/earthquake.) I ate sushi every day, drank sake, partook of a Japanese bath and consumed green tea (in very large quantities). What a great place to visit.

 

A few months ago I invited you to spend a week with me in Japan, as there were several partner events that dovetailed with our MIG conference, including the NanoMicro Biz ROBOTECH and MEMS Engineer Forum. On April 23 I traveled to Yokohama to give a keynote at NanoMicro Biz’s 20th annual International Micromachine/Nanotech Symposium.

 

The conference had been relocated to Yokohama, an impressive “city by the bay” that is only a 30-minute train ride from Tokyo. And while the exhibition site was smaller than previous years, the Symposium was still impressive, and my presentation on “MEMS and Sensor Trends, Paving the Way for the Internet of Things” was well received by a diverse and international audience. I also had the opportunity to represent MIG in our booth and sneak in a few MIG-branded chocolates created for us by the conference organizers (yum) as well as connect with several MIG members and partners in attendance.  

 

Then it was back to Tokyo to kick off MIG Conference Japan with MIG Events and Program Manager Chivonne Hyppolite. Simply put, the conference exceeded expectations in terms of quality/number of attendees as well as content. I am grateful for the guidance and support MIG received from Mr. Susumu Kaminaga of SKG Partners and Mr. Yoshio Sekiguchi of OMRON; without them, there is no way that the conference would have happened let alone be successful.

 

What excited me the most about MIG Conference Japan was the originality of the content provided by our keynotes and featured speakers. (Here is the agenda.) The focus of the conference was on navigating the challenges of the global MEMS supply chain. Several of the speakers gave their no-holds-barred view of these challenges, including the keynote from Sony Communications, Takeshi Ito, Chief Technology Officer, Head of Technology, Sony Mobile Communications. Mr. Ito’s shared his thoughts on the future of MEMS and sensors (and in particular, alternative uses for acoustic MEMS), which I found very interesting, and I truly appreciated his end-user/OEM perspective.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the presentation by Leopold Beer, regional president Asia Pacific, BOSCH Sensortec, who explored the criticality of balancing higher integration and rapid product cycles with the need to support multiple applications.

 

Honestly all the presentations at MIG Conference Japan were impressive, and I am not going to do a play-by-play here for you. (Sorry folks.) But what I will do is urge you to consider attending our next big event in Asia: MIG Conference Shanghai, which will be held September 11-12, 2014 in Shanghai in in partnership with Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology (SIMIT) and Shanghai Industrial µTechnology Research Institute (SITRI).

 

Our Shanghai event will be more focused on the theme of the Internet of Things/Services/Everything as well as the challenges of a global MEMS supply chain. Please join me there to further explore the future of MEMS and sensors. For more information, you can visit our website.  

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Bulbs Need Intelligent Lighting Systems

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 17, 2014

Guest blog from Semico Research


There are over 3,000 companies making LED bulbs.  Regionally, there are countries like China that have 5-year plans which foster the development of leading SSL manufacturing firms while pushing LED lighting on the market.  How many light bulbs do you have in your house?  How many are LED?  How many lights at your workplace? On the streets and freeways?

 

If you thought the sensor market was large before, with smartphones and fitness trackers, imagine all the sensors and controls that could go into lighting sources and outlets, with the intent of monitoring behavior and finding trends in order to predict how and where our lighting should be installed.

 

With MEMS, the entire smart home may have sensors.  For example, your walls may have accelerometers built in to help predict and recover from earthquakes.  Bulbs may make use of a MEMS microphone to help determine lighting needs.  As the price of MEMS sensors continues to decline, manufactures should turn their eye to this market.

 

For example, imagine having the majority of your ceiling be comprised of multiple types of lights, all of which can automatically be adjusted depending on your behavior.  This is important for the home theater system, where in order to play a movie, the screen must be lowered, the system turned on, the curtains closed, etc.  But, with smart lighting controls, the mere act of sitting down on the couch at a particular time of the day could trigger all those other actions automatically with the lights adjusted accordingly.  How can MEMS contribute?


Perhaps even more useful, intelligent lighting can sense commands from other lighting sources without the use of a wired connection.  This effectively creates a 3D map of your environment with the lighting system at the head of it.  No more automatic lights that rely on gestures in order to stay on.  The lighting system of the future will know if there are living creatures in the room or not.  This isn’t far out in the future either, we’re looking at this technology now, and at the point where manufacturing and deployment must work together.

 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 86% of all lighting in residential markets currently have no control system, and 70% of all commercial lighting have no controls.  The market penetration rate is so small, and the potential so large, this is a market you should be keeping an eye on.  That is why Semico is hosting a Smart Lighting Event on April 23rd in Santa Clara to discuss deployment trends and what opportunities and barriers to entry we have to look forward to.  Semico’s CTO, Tony Massimini will be discussing, in particular, how MEMS manufacturers can build a niche within the Smart Lighting market.  Join us and register here.

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Next-gen RF MEMS Switch for a Smarter, Faster Internet of Things

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 17, 2014

By Karen Lightman, Executive Director

Originally appeared on GE Global Research, March 28, 2014

 

Big Data. Internet of Things. Quantified Self. Connected Home. Connected City. These buzzwords are pretty much everywhere (unless you live under a rock or up a tree), and many of us are excited about the possibilities of connecting to data in intelligent ways that improve our everyday quality of life.

 

Micro-electromechanical Systems (MEMS) and sensor networks give us access to a more connected and quantified world by making “big data from little data.” (ARM CTO Mike Muller explored the topic at a recent MEMS Industry Group conference held at the 2014 International CES). But what if those little and then big bits of data can’t get out? What if they are stuck on the ever-clogged and expanding Internet Highway? How will I be able to quantify myself and analyze my sleep, eating and exercise habits if the data just stays put on my wearable device? What good will come from all this data then?

 

The simple answer is that it will be NO GOOD unless the data is conveyed via a robust connection with strong signal quality. A strong “data backbone” ensures that the little data can be quickly and seamlessly combined with other little data, then scrubbed and polished through algorithms to create big data that helps make smart decisions — fast. Sometimes these decisions might be as simple as “get off your butt, Karen. You’ve only walked 2,000 steps today” or it might be as complicated as a sensing microsystems that senses, switches, monitors and makes real time decisions on board planes flying overhead to industrial or healthcare monitoring and diagnostics here on the ground warning system for a jet engine turbine that has struck a flock of birds.

 

The bottom line is that all the fancy MEMS- and sensor-enabled gadgets in the world won’t reach their potential of truly creating an Internet of Things unless the data itself gets to its destination quickly, safely and efficiently. That’s why I became super excited to hear of GE’s RF MEMS switch that promises to enable increased data transfer speeds, enhanced signal quality, and longer battery life.

 

The RF MEMS switches developed by the folks at the GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna, NY use a unique material set and proprietary metal MEMS process developed at GE Global Research. This is breakthrough science, to be quite honest; and I am can’t wait to see this technology realized in future mobile devices. LTE-Advanced (also called “true 4G”) is already common in several spots in Asia and is expected to become the benchmark for mobile communications worldwide. GE’s RF MEMS technology will create that backbone, to enable the building of big data from little data on this new level of mobile communications.

 

In 2012, I had the pleasure of visiting the research center in beautiful Niskayuna. (It was in July not in the winter, mind you.) I learned all about GE’s new class of devices (including the switch) and am excited to see what breakthroughs will be coming from GE in the future.  I also got to dress up in the bunny suit and take a tour of their amazing MEMS foundry. (Read more about my visit by reading my blog.)

 

It is gratifying to see now that technology making its way into the market, with its promise to span numerous applications — across consumer to commercial and industrial products. I personally can’t wait to have my mobile device with the GE RF MEMS switch, truly enabling a smart and fast Internet of Things.

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MEMS – Enter with Care

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 17, 2014

Written by: Karen Lightman, Executive Director, MEMS Industry Group

First appeared on Solid State Technology, March 27, 2014

 

MEMS – enter with care. I think that will be my tagline for MEMS Industry Group’s third annual MEMS Executive Congress Europe 2014 recently held in Munich, Germany. The official theme of the conference was the “MEMS-Enabled Life,” and the keynotes and panelists did talk about how MEMS is currently and will continue to improve our quality of life. However, what struck me the most about this conference was how every panelist shared not only the “everything’s-coming-up-MEMS” perspective but also some real honest discussion about the remaining challenges of getting MEMS devices to market on-time, and at (or below) cost.

 

This was especially apparent on the consumer products panel – which makes sense.  Because nowhere else is the MEMS industry more competitive than in the consumer market. JC Eloy of Yole Développement characterized it best: “The MEMS consumer market is booming, but….” The “but” factor here is that it’s such a tough business that very few startups can enter the MEMS consumer market, the only exception being InvenSense. I’ve often said that MEMS is not for the faint at heart, but these days it really looks to be cutthroat in the consumer business as Bosch and ST duke it out for the #1 spot. My favorite quote from the Congress was a sign of that competitiveness – so coyly stated by Teemu Rämö of Nokia when he introduced himself on the panel: “Nokia, the phone you had before you switched to your iPhone or Samsung.” Yes, remember Nokia. Now the Lumia is best known for its (MEMS-enabled) camera, but alas, not for its mobile phone capabilities.

 

The perspective on the challenges and opportunities in this competitive field of MEMS was also well detailed by our morning keynote, Rudi De Winter, CEO of X-FAB Group, who spoke of the innovation and diversification of MEMS and how it compares to semiconductor and CMOS manufacturing. De Winter described the challenges this way: “In MEMS there are no elementary building blocks…the physical implementation is very different from CMOS and there is a huge potential for optimization (process, design architecture).” Clearly a leader like X-FAB that is expanding its MEMS capabilities sees the opportunity but is going in with open eyes and an appreciation of the challenges that lie ahead.

 

The automotive panel, ably moderated by Freescale’s Marc Osajda, also reflected on the challenges in the ever-changing world of automotive. The panelists gave a great overview of the changing landscape. As BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries are increasing their demand for cars, they are not necessarily increasing their demand for MEMS-/sensor-laden cars. In fact, Richard Dixon of IHS shared the statistic that only 8% of cars sold in BRIC countries have MEMS/sensors while the average American car has closer to 18. This market diversification is simultaneously creating both real opportunity andbig challenges. But as stated by Christoph Wagner of Analog Devices, “MEMS will always be an innovator in automotive.”

 

The MEMS in healthcare panelists also discussed the opportunities for MEMS – explaining that the biggest chance for a “killer app” in MEMS is in the health/wellness space. The panelists couldn’t help themselves by discussing the barriers to that killer-app-happy-place, with the biggest one being regulation (no surprise here). But they expressed overall optimism when describing a future where you “bring your own device” to maintain wellness and health, and I look forward to experiencing that world as I envision it — with fewer wait times at the doctor’s office. (A girl can dream, can’t she?)

 

My highlight of MEMS Congress Europe was definitely hearing the keynote from Klaus Meder, president of Automotive Electronics, Robert Bosch GmbH: “MEMS and our Connected World.” With his enviable-looking presentation slides (like seriously, who does his graphics? I want his/her contact info!), Meder painted an exciting world enabled by MEMS/sensors and truly smart Internet of Things and Services (IoTS). “Internet of things is about sensors everywhere, networks everywhere, analyze everything,” stated Meder. YES! I want that world because that world doesn’t intimidate me or frighten me with its regulations and privacy concerns. I can’t wait for that beautifully intelligent MEMS/sensors-everywhere world. Can you?

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Trip Report: MEMS Industry Group at MD&M West 2014

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 17, 2014

by Monica Takacs, Director of Membership, MEMS Industry Group


February 2014, MEMS Industry Group (MIG) exhibited at the MD&M West conference and tradeshow in Anaheim, CA with MIG members AM Fitzgerald & AssociatesIMT – Innovative Micro Technology and SilexMicrosystems as our co-exhibitors. Our host for the microtechnology pavilion was IVAM Microtechnology Network, one of our 26 partner organizations, and it featured international companies involved in the manufacturing of MEMS, sensors and printed electronics for the medical device industry.

 

Medical device manufacturers have quickly noticed MEMS as a viable solution to include in their multi-functional next-generation products. With MEMS steadily making its way into more medical applications, MIG is creating opportunities for our members to connect with the medical device community. In addition to attending and creating content for medical-device shows, we are launching members-only programming such as the MEMS in Healthcare Working Group, launched in the fall of 2013.

 

At MD&M West, MIG hosted a Learning Labs conference session, “Advanced Application of Sensors in Medical Devices,” with MIG Governing Council Member Alissa M. Fitzgerald, Ph.D., founder and managing member, A.M. Fitzgerald & Associates, LLC as the chair. A panel of MIG members IMT – Innovative Micro TechnologyMerit SensorSilex Microsystems and Small Tech Consulting also participated in the panel discussion, “Utilizing new sensor technologies for implantable devices.” 


12815955115_6038d32e2f_n The panel discussed the MEMS ecosystem and advised medical-device companies on navigating the opportunities and challenges of MEMS product development. Counseling companies not to reinvent the wheel, panelists explained that they can leverage partner relationships to overcome the technical challenges of MEMS fabrication.

 

They also described the evolution of the MEMS industry over the last 10 years from a landscape of startup companies to Fortune 500 and even 100 companies now including MEMS in their product roadmaps. Michael Shillinger, founder of IMT remarked that the majority of IMT’s customer base is now made up of large companies rather than startups. Moderator Leslie Field, CEO of Small Tech Consulting, remarked how development cycles aren’t what they used to be, which has led to the ubiquity of MEMS.

 

Kevin Mach, senior account manager of Silex Microsystems cited the critical role of MEMS foundries in the massive adoption of MEMS over the last decade: “Companies planning to get into the medical/life science space need to reach out to MEMS foundries early and often. It’s important to understand what options are available in manufacturing and to leverage the technical expertise gained from years of MEMS processing. In our experience, customers that take the time to understand the capabilities and limitations of their partners tend to be successful long-term.”

 

Rick Russell, president of Merit Sensor, encouraged attendees to design MEMS for packaging, particularly with regard to implantables, which require lots of capital and are a challenge due to FDA regulations. Alissa Fitzgerald added that MEMS packaging for implantables is an opportunity for innovation and patents. Because MEMS is heading in the direction of commoditization, the value add is the packaging of the chip into the product, said Fitzgerald.

 

MIG members on the panel had their own takeaways:


“I was very impressed by the number of people who attended the panel, said Russell. “The overwhelming response showed me that innovators are eager to adopt more MEMS devices to help diagnose your physical state, whether it be your heart rate during a medical procedure or simply sharing your daily activity level on social media. The number of companies adopting MEMS for wearable devices (noninvasive) has exploded, but those that require FDA approval (invasive) are much slower to market but have a higher long-term reward.”

 

“I was excited to see so many people in the audience already aware of MEMS and thinking about how to use them in their products,” said Fitzgerald. “We need to have more interactions like this between medical device innovators and the MEMS industry. The more we can learn about each other’s needs and capabilities, the faster we’ll see exciting new medical products emerge.”

 

Listen to moderator Leslie Field discuss all of the key takeaways of the panel below. 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfdrV8on1t4&w=560&h=315]


Elsewhere on the show floor, MIG members were scattered throughout. Interlink Electronics showcased their force sensing technology, COTO Technology presented their RedRock MEMS Switch, which was awarded 2013 Product of the Year (MEMS category), by Electronic Products magazine, and Merit Sensor demoed their BP Series Blood Pressure Medical Sensor.

 

See both the Merit and Coto Technology product demos below.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlXUPC5dZog&w=560&h=315]


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nso1FXm6E38?list=UUn2RgVTpYwGz-vJ2CXNM5GA&w=560&h=315]

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Guest Blog: Xtrinsic sensor fusion library for Kinetis MCUs

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 17, 2014

by Michael E Stanley 

 

First Appeared in The Embedded Beat on Feb 24, 2014


30615-IND-FRDM-Duo2_angle_LR.jpgIn my December post, New sensor expansion boards for Freescale Freedom development platform, I introduced you to the FRDM-FXS sensor shields for the platform.  From the "Downloads" tab on the FRDM-FXS-MULTI-B web page, you can now download demo executables for the FRDM-KL25Z and FRDM-K20D50M boards that are compatible with Xtrinsic Sensor Fusion Toolbox for Android. (You can read more about this app here: Free Android App Teaches Sensor Fusion Basics.)  The links for the two executable are labeled FRDM-K20D50M_MQXL (compiled for ARM® Cortex-M4) and FRDM-KL25Z-MQXL (compiled for ARM Cortex-M0+).  You will need to log into the Freescale Community and accept a click-through license/disclaimer to gain access to the files.

 

One of the things I like most about the Freescale Freedom development platform is its ease of use.  It can be programmed with a bootloader that allows you to plug the board into your PC via USB, and install software (such as these files) with a simple drag and drop.  If you haven't done this before, let me recommend a couple of resources for you:

Last June, I posted a number of videos to the Freescale website which show you how to run the Sensor Fusion Toolbox.  Although we've added a number of features to the toolbox since then, the basic principles described in the videos still apply.  Using the combination of hardware (shown at left), embedded code from the links above, and the Sensor Fusion Toolbox, you can experiment with different combinations of MCUs, sensors and algorithms, in real time, on your own phone or tablet.

 

Now here is the really cool part, the embedded fusion library at the heart of this functionality is now available in via the "Xtrinsic Sensor Fusion Library for Kinetis MCUs - Evaluation Version and documentation" link, available from the same Downloads tab listed above.  The download package includes a datasheet describing Freescale's Xtrinsic Sensor Fusion capabilities, a user's guide that will show you how to get up and running, and a zip file containing a CodeWarrior project.  The evaluation version runs only on the KL25Z board. Everything in the project, with the exception of one .c file, is precompiled.  Filename user_tasks.c is reserved for your use, and allows you to insert code at 5 specific entry points in the project.  You have visibility to all fusion outputs, and can modify the Bluetooth output stream to suite your own needs.  This is the same project used to create the executables mentioned earlier.  The evaluation version is fully compatible with the Xtrinsic Sensor Fusion Toolbox.

 

The evaluation version of the kit is intended to give developers everything they need to evaluate the quality and scope of Freescale's sensor fusion libraries.  Once a decision is made to incorporate the library into a product, you will want to upgrade to the "product development" version of the library.  This version, which will soon be available from the same download page, provides many more bells and whistles with regard to fusion options and underlying project structure.  Differences in the three versions of the library are summarized below:

 

Feature

Demo Version

Evaluation Version

Development Version

License

Free click-through

Free click-through

Contact Freescale for Pricing

CPU selection

MKL25Z128VLK4

MK20DX128VLH5

MKL25Z128VLK4

MKL25Z128VLK4

MK20DX128VLH5

others upon request

Board customizable

No – FRDM_KL25Z & FRDM_K20D50M only

No - FRDM_KL25Z only

Yes

Sensor sample rate

Fixed

Fixed

Programmable

Fusion rate

Fixed

Fixed

Programmable

Frame of Reference

Android

Android

Programmable

Algorithms Executing

accel only, accel + gyro, accel + mag, accel + mag + gyro

Programmable

Sleep mode enabled between samples/calculations

No

No

Programmable

RTOS

MQX-Lite

MQX-Lite

MQX-Lite

Code flexibility

NONE – Executable only

customer code limited to 5 specific entry points

only Kalman and MagCal libraries are precompiled. Everything else is supplied in source form, and can be modified.

Access to Processor Expert™ configuration

No

No

Yes

Collateral Materials

datasheet

zip file containing the appropriate CodeWarrior project

user manual

 

The next table shows sensor fusion features versus sensor complement used for the application.  See the sensor fusion datasheet for additional restrictions/details.

 

Feature

Accel only

Accel + gyro

Accel + mag

Accel + mag + gyro

Filter Type

Butterworth

Indirect Kalman

Butterworth

Indirect Kalman

Roll / Pitch / Tilt in degrees

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yaw in degrees

No

No

Yes

Yes

Angular Rate in degrees/second

virtual 2 axis

Yes

virtual 3 axis

Yes

Compass heading (magnetic north) in degrees

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

quaternion and rotation vector

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

rotation matrix

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

linear acceleration separate from gravity

No

Yes

No

Yes

NED (North-East-Down Frame of Reference

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

ENU (Windows 8 variant) Frame of Reference

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

ENU (Android variant) Frame of Reference

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Magnetic calibration included

No

No

Yes

Yes

Gyro offset calibration included

N/A

Yes

N/A

Yes

FRDM-KL25Z_MQXL board support

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

FRDM-K20D50M_MQXL board support

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

I will be teaching two different classes dealing with the Xtrinsic Sensor Fusion Library for Kinetis™ MCUs at the upcoming Freescale Technology Forum in Dallas.  The first will be a one-hour "lunch and learn" session (FTF-SDS-F0176) on Wednesday, April 9.  A three-hour hands on session (FTF-CON-F0178) is planned for Thursday afternoon.  This session was previously targeted specifically at our eCompass software (and may still be shown as such on the FTF agenda), and is being repurposed so that we can provide additional, in depth, training on the fusion library.  I hope to see you there!

 

Michael Stanley is a systems engineer at Freescale.

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Exploring the MEMS-Enabled Life: A Preview of MEMS Executive Congress Europe 2014

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 17, 2014

Written by: Karen Lightman, Executive Director, MEMS Industry Group

First appeared on Solid State Technology, February 10, 2014.

 

Munich, Germany is one of my favorite cities in the world. If you agree or if you’ve never been there, I have the perfect opportunity for you to join me:  MEMS Industry Group’s (MIG’s) MEMS Executive Congress Europe 2014 will be held at the beautiful Sofitel Hotel Bayerpost on March 10-11. The theme of our third European Congress is the “MEMS-enabled life,” and I don’t think there’s a more perfect city to exemplify an enhanced quality of life than Munich.

 

Congress attendees will get a rare inside look at the business of MEMS as they hear first-hand from (and interact with) keynote speakers, featured presenters and panelists. Plus we’ll have lots of time for networking, including an opening reception on March 10 and a fabulous dinner at the Augustiner Braustuben Biergarten on the night of March 11.

 

Our morning keynote speaker, Rudi De Winter, CEO of X-FAB Group, will share his thoughts on the commercial, technical, manufacturability, market and investment risks in developing MEMS business, detailing how to overcome them to reap rewards. Mr. De Winter will also provide examples of MEMS and 3D heterogeneous integration by sharing the investment story in two startups:  MicroGen Systems (energy harvesting) and X-Celeprint (mass micro-transfer printing technology). As a big fan of Rob Andosca and MicroGen, I am really looking forward to hearing Mr. De Winter’s perspective on energy harvesting and in particular, MicroGen.

 

Our afternoon keynote speaker, Klaus Meder, president of Automotive Electronics at Robert Bosch, will explore “MEMS in Our Connected World.” I am especially excited to hear Mr. Meder’s speech as he gave the keynote at our MEMS session at 2013 International CES, and he revealed some of Bosch’s plans to revolutionize the way we connect to our world. This is when the concept of the “Internet of Things (IoT) comes home, literally. With IoT-enabled home appliances, my Bosch dishwasher could talk to my clothes washer so they don’t take all my hot water before my teenager takes a shower. (God forbid she doesn’t have enough water!).  And I love the idea of an IoT-enabled car talking to other cars to warn them of icy roads ahead (which would really come in handy here in Pittsburgh where all our side streets are covered in two inches of ice). I look forward to that world, where my life will be enhanced in very simple ways, thanks to MEMS.

 

While many of us might be swept away by the amazing consumer-focused products that MEMS makes possible, there is a big world beyond consumer, in which industrial applications t will truly revolutionize we manage critical business functions. We have brought in a respected industry luminary, Dr. Jörk Habenstreit, managing director for Research & Development Technology Software, Testo, to share his perspectives on the role of MEMS and sensors in some of these industrial applications. From food processing, transport and storage to clean room integrity, building thermography, and gas leak detection, MEMS-based test and measurement instrumentation from companies like Testo are improving business operations in a variety of ways.

 

With the focus of the entire European Congress is on the business of MEMS, we’ll also include panel discussions to drill down into specific market areas, including consumer, health/wellness and automotive. We’ve worked extra hard this year to make sure we hear from a wide array of opinions and perspectives so you’ll see some folks from research sitting alongside industry veterans, giving us their thoughts on the future market potential for MEMS-enabling products. I think it’s important to get a diversity of opinions on panels and I am confident this year’s European Congress will not disappoint. You can check out the agenda for the full list of speakers and the descriptions of the panels.

 

MEMS Executive Congress Europe checks all the boxes: great content and speakers, networking time with MEMS industry execs and OEM users, and an unbeatable location in Munich. Hope you’ll join me there!

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Guest Blog: New Sensor Expansion Boards for Freescale Freedom Development Platform

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 17, 2014

Originally posted by Michael E Stanley in The Embedded Beat on Dec 6, 2013


I am really excited because Freescale recently released a family of new sensor expansion boards designed to work with the FRDM-KL25Z and FRDM-K20D50M Freescale Freedom development platforms.  All three of the new expansion boards are based upon the same PCB design, and differ only in terms of how they are populated.  I've been using prototypes of these for months as a development platform for sensor fusion (more on that to come).  If I had to come up with a one word descriptor, it would be "SWEET!"

 

I refer to this design as our "kitchen sink" board, as it includes many of the sensors that Freescale introduced in 2013.  Because it pairs with two popular Freedom boards, it makes an ideal platform for product prototyping.  If low power and cost are your prime concerns, the KL25Z, built around a Kinetis KL25 MCU with ARM® Cortex®-M0+ processor, should be your base board of choice.  If you need more processing power, upgrade to the K20D50M, which is enabled with a K20 device built around an ARM Cortex-M4 processor.  Both Freedom development platforms support the popular Arduino R3 expansion board interface, which is also used for the new sensor expansion boards.

 

Prior to joining Freescale's sensors team 4 years ago, I worked in the MCU side of the business.  I was really jazzed when my old division introduced the Freedom series of boards.  They are extremely flexible, easy to use and the cost cannot be beat.  Nice job!

 

The table below summarizes feature sets for each of the new sensor boards.  The two "MULTI" board options include redundant capability for rmeasuring acceleration and magnetic fields.  The intent is to provide multiple sensor options for you to experiment with.

 

FeatureFRDM-FXS-MULTI-BFRDM-FXS-
MULTI
FRDM-FXS-
9AXIS
Expansion BoardPhoto30615-IND-FRDM-FXS-MULTI-B_top_LR.jpg30936-IND-FRDM2-FXS-MULTI_top_LR.jpg30939-IND-FRDM-FXS-9AXIS-top_LR.jpg
Compatible Freedom Development Hardware (not included)FRDM-
KL25ZFRDM-KL20D50M
FRDM-
KL25ZFRDM-KL20D50M
FRDM-
KL25ZFRDM-KL20D50M
Arduino R3-compatible board
FXAS21000 Gyroscope
FXOS8700CQ Accelerometer / Magnetometer Combination Sensor
MMA8652FC Accelerometer
MPL3115A2 Altimeter/Barometer Sensor
FXLS8471 Accelerometer
MMA9553L Pedometer
MAG3110 Magnetometer
Bluetooth Module and Battery
Price USD (Dec. 2013)$125$50$30

 

In a prior posting (Free Android app teaches sensor fusion basics) I introduced the Xtrinsic Sensor Fusion Toolbox for Android, with the promise that it would communicate with future Freescale development boards.  The FRDM-FXS-MULTI-B IS that board.  Freescale will be posting downloadable binaries for the fusion app shortly.  You can expect to see an evaluation version of the Xtrinsic Sensor Fusion Library for Kinetis MCUs soon also.  I'll be posting separately on that topic.

 

Because it includes a rechargeable Li-Ion battery (simply plug it into a USB port to charge) and 3rd party Bluetooth module (BR-LE4.0-D2A), your FRDM-FXS-MULTI-B application can be completely untethered.   The wireless module includes its own software stack for wireless encode/decode, which means that communications to/from the Freedom hardware could not be easier.  Simply read and write using a standard UART interface.

 

The FRDM-FXS-MULTI  has exactly the same sensor complement as the FRDM-FXS-MULTI-B, but omits the Bluetooth module and battery.  This has the benefit of lowing the per board cost by about 60%.  For those of you who really only need a basic 9-axis MARG (Magnetic-Angular Rate-Gravity) module, the FRDM-FXS-9AXIS board is just the ticket at only $30 USD.

 

Labelled.jpg

 

The photo above shows key components on the FRDM-FXS-MULTI-B board.  Did I mention the SD card slot for data logging?  Or the prototype area on the left of the board?  You might want to plan on using Processor Expert software to abstract base board dependencies out of your project.  That's what we did for our fusion code, with the result that we're able to easily target both Freedom boards with essentially the same application.

Just click the "BUY" button on the web page associated with each board to place your order.  Don't forget to also order a main Freescale Freedom development platform if you don't already have one.

 

References:

  1. Freescale Freedom Development Platform
  2. FRDM-KL25Z
  3. FRDM-K20D50M
  4. FRDM-FXS-9AXIS
  5. FRDM-FXS-MULTI
  6. FRDM-FXS-MULTI-B
  7. Processor Expert software
  8. Blue Radios Bluetooth module BR-LE4.0-D2A

Michael Stanley is a systems engineer at Freescale.

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MEMS: An Enabler of the Next Internet Revolution

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 17, 2014

Micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) and sensor fusion will play a critical role in enabling a more intelligent and intuitive Internet of Things (IoT)—one that will revolutionize the consumer space forever. The MEMS and sensor technology is here today and now is the time to harness it for your products and position yourself for this exciting future. I encourage you to read on and learn about some great examples of MEMS enabling IoT.

 

-Karen Lightman, Executive Director, MEMS Industry Group


MEMS: An Enabler of the Next Internet Revolution


Written by: Howard Wisniowski, President of HW Marketing Group.


The next internet revolution is shaping up and MEMS is poised to play an important role. Commonly referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT) or Machine to Machine (M2M) communications, this revolution consists primarily of machines talking to one another, with computer-connected humans observing, analyzing and acting upon the resulting 'big data' explosion it produces. While the first internet/web revolution changed the world profoundly, the disruptive nature of MEMS, M2M and the Internet of Things has the potential to change it even more as the big data machine will no longer be dependent on human data entry. The internet traffic will be automatically generated by millions of 'things' from which we can retool large parts of the world for better efficiency, security and environmental responsibility.


The enabling qualities of MEMS sensors quickly come to mind since they are increasingly becoming cheap, plentiful and can communicate, either directly with the internet or with internet-connected devices. Almost anything to which you can attach a sensor — a football helmet, an automobile, a smartphone, a cow in a field, a container on a cargo vessel, the air-conditioning unit in your office, a lamppost in the street — can become a node in the Internet of Things. Be it on location, altitude, velocity, temperature, illumination, motion, power, humidity, blood sugar, air quality, soil moisture... you name it, MEMS-based sensors will play an important role in gathering and/or disseminating data from millions of devices.

 

Deeper into the signal chain, however, is another class of MEMS devices that is evolving and will have a profound impact. At the heart of all the “connected” devices will be a component that provides the timing that enables all communication to occur.

 

In the past, timing components have typically been manufactured from quartz crystals, a nearly century-old technology unsuitable for integration into small, low power connectivity ICs. In contrast, a new generation of MEMS timing devices are appearing and are offered by companies such as Sand 9Silicon Labs, IDT, and SiTime. Major advantages of MEMS timing devices include vibration immunity, shock resistance, power supply noise immunity, small package dimensions, and reliable operation at high sustained temperatures. Additionally, sourcing MEMS timing devices is significantly easier that quartz. Leadtimes are shorter, the ability to react to sudden upside is much faster, and the ability to leverage semiconductor batch manufacturing enables cost benefits as volumes scale.

 

For the IoT market, small size is a key factor. New timing devices are now available in ultra-small WLCSPs and can be co-packaged with Bluetooth Smart ICs. An example of this is Sand 9’s MEMS resonators. Rugged, simplified Bluetooth Smart SiPs with the smallest dimensions and lowest power requirements are one of the factors driving Bluetooth adoption and IoT growth by enabling applications such as new industrial designs for wearable devices and tags.  With an ever increasing number of Bluetooth devices able to connect wirelessly, both the ecosystem and each device in it will increase in value and usefulness.

 

Speaking of smaller size, zero operate power, and higher performance, another MEMS technology is emerging that will also impact product designs serving the IoT trends. MEMS switches are now being introduced that require no power to switch while robust enough to  handle 300mW of ‘carry power’ performing as a sensor, high carry current switch or both. Announced earlier this year, Coto Technology’s RedRock™ MEMS-based magnetic reed switch is the latest example and is currently the world's smallest single-pole, single throw (SPST) switch at only 2-by-1 millimeter (with an even smaller one on the way). It is activated or closed by a magnetic field of less than 25 milliTeslas while being highly directional, making it virtually immune to stray magnetic fields. Applications that benefit include ultra-small hearing aids, implantable insulin pumps, capsule endoscopes in-a-pill, and even devices that track birds, land animals and sharks off the coast of Chatham Massachusetts, all products connected for data logging and programming.

 

There’s many exciting market possibilities for MEMS-based products in the emerging world of the Internet of Things as products become smaller, increase in capability and machine-to-machine communication grows in importance. I’ve only touched the surface and I’m sure there are many more examples in this continually evolving landscape as suppliers continue to roll out products with greater capabilities and enable applications that were not possible before.

Who is next?  Share your thoughts.

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