The theme of this year's International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) is "Electronics for Healthy Living." The semiconductor industry is clearly looking to chart some new territory that can provide some improved revenue growth. Next week's ISSCC (Feb. 20-24) follows on the heels of an EE Times special edition devoted to medical electronics.
Despite the enthusiasm for opportunities in biomedical, it would be hard to build a conference the size of ISSCC solely on that subject. But the theme does allow for biasing the presentations in directions that could prove important to medical electronics in the future. I'm thinking mostly about low-power and low voltage (ULV, as touted on the conference brochure). In addition to the sessions like Low Power Wireless (26) and Sensors & Energy Harvesting (6), there is a Sunday Forum, Ultra-Low Voltage VLSIs for Energy Efficient Systems (F2). There are tutorials picking up the theme including Ultra Low-Power and Low-Voltage Digital-Circuit Design Techniques (T3) as well as a tutorial appearing as one of my conference picks below, Harold Pilo's embedded memory tutorial (T2).
There is also a session Sunday evening (Feb. 20) on wireless sensors, where there is an obvious need to create low power devices, and the second speaker looks at "Ultra-low Power Design for WSN."
The ISSCC committee is proud of a new feature this year, the technology roundtable plenaries. The first follows quickly after the three plenary talks. Beyond the horizon: The next 10x Reduction in Power—Challenges and Solutions rounds out the theme. This panels includes some true industrial and academic heavyweights like Mark Horowitz, Jack Sun, Dan Dobberpuhl, Kiyoo Itoh, and Asad Abidi.
With that quick view of some of the highlights, it's pretty obvious ISSCC is a real working conference. It's good value if you can keep up the pace of roundtables starting at 8 a.m. and evening panels starting at 8 p.m. This year, there is something new on Tuesday evening as well—Industrial Demo Sessions. I'm sure many attendees will look forward to getting back to their regular jobs to catch their breath.
To help avoid overload, here are my selections of what I would like to attend at the conference. If you are paying registration plus travel to get there (or even it's just your boss signing off on it), you might want to hit a few more sessions. But I hope the condensed list below will help avoid information overload and burnout. At least you can maximize your networking or other social interactions, which are still the most important reasons to get to these events in person.
@Luis Sanchez: well, if you want to see which tooth has high stress, that is quite easy, we can quote or stick thin-film pressure sensors! Remember those plastic rulers with this feature where you press your thumb to see how stressed you are? We have come a long way from that in advancements of materials technology. Now a days, you can get transparent electronic films that do the same!
Overall, I liked most of the 'can't miss' list but I reminisce those days when life was far less complicated! I wonder if we are unnecessarily complicating humanity's survival in the name of technological advancements!
Dr. MP Divakar
It really all depends on the technology. Medical devices are divided into there classes (1,2,3), with class 1 being very simple things like crutches, class 2 being low to medium risk devices like EKG machines, and class 3 devices being high risk or life sustaining devices (think pacemakers). Most class 2 devices require "premarket notification (510k)" and most class 3 require "premarket approval (PMA)". The caveat is that to do a 510k, you need to be "substantially equivalent" to a "predicate device". Confused yet? Wait.. there's more. If you're a class 2 device and don't have a clear predicate, you are automatically classified as class 3 and have to do a PMA... EXCEPT, you can file for a "de novo" review which is much simpler :)
Bottom line is that the regulatory process is a big hurdle, but it's not insurmountable; even for a startup. You need good consultants, a solid plan, and a good quality management system. Check out the FDA website; it's actually quite helpful (although there is a LOT to read).
@Don, Thank you for these highlights and for your best tips on how to make the most of the ISSCC. The round table plenaries sound like an excellent new feature. I was wondering on a social media front if there are hash tags and other ways we can track and follow the conference via Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.
The winner for me is the: A Telemetric Stress-Mapping CMOS Chip with 24 FET-Based Stress Sensors for Smart Orthodontic Brackets.
I never imagine before putting some electronics in the mouth for teeth purposes.
Sounds like a pretty good idea if the do it right.
I can imagine the data going to the mobile phone and perhaps creating a stress-scopic image that will show with a color code which teeth are under more stress or so.
If we allow our imagination to go even further in the future the brackets might become self adjusting and the visits to the doctor might become seldom. Sorry doctors.
Don't worry... that's the far future. :-)
@caiogubel: There are two major FDA pathways. The simplest is called 510(k) aimed at devices similar to things already on the market. I am told it can take 9-18 months to prepare data for it and another 9-18 months to go through the formal FDA process to get it. Costs are all over the map. The more extensive path called PMA for new kinds of devices is longer and more expensive with costs varying greatly for both paths. Anyone please feel free to chime in if you have more detailed info.