What follows is a list of 20 technologies EE Times editors think can bring big changes, and that we will be tracking during 2012.
Given the pace of technological change, limiting our list to 20 topics doesn’t really do the subject justice but in many ways our chosen topics embrace numerous others. Technology does not exist in a vacuum. Ideas behind each technology are interconnected both conceptually – and sometimes physically – through engineers, consumers, companies, events and market trends.
The significance can sometimes be as simple as how a well-turned phrase catches the essence of a technology sector, such as the way system-on-chip (SoC) replaced application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) as a descriptor, a decade ago. For instance, is today’s "Internet of Things" the same or different from machine-to-machine communications? Whichever buzz phrase we choose, the key is whether the technology will enable products to succeed and markets to grow.
The pictures used with the topics are not necessarily new in 2011 but examples from the past that illustrate why we think these technologies will flourish in the future
Speaking of flourishing, if we have learned one thing from this year of natural and economic disasters, it is that there are always areas within electronics and semiconductors that can grow rapidly even when the overall market growth is limited. And those hot areas are enabled by hot technologies like these.
1. Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)
MEMSIC's no-moving-parts MEMS accelerometer uses a heater to raise the temperature of central column of air, while thermocouples around the edge indicate acceleration as a change in temperature
MEMS is really six or seven sub-domains, many of which have products with high growth numbers.
They include: environmental sensors such as pressure and humidity sensors and silicon microphones; inertial sensors including accelerometers and gyroscopes; inkjets and microfluidics; microactuators including micromirror devices and displays; RF MEMS; Micro-optoelectromechanical systems (MOEMS); bioelectronic probes and substrates.
MEMS ICs entering mass consumer markets
IHS: TI regains lead in MEMS on DLP revival
IDT claims first piezoelectric MEMS