MEMS devices are everywhere. They have permeated almost every aspect of our lives, forever altering our interaction with our digital environment. Unknowingly, we take them for granted. But what would happen if this tiny, robust, quiet, virtually invisible workhorse suddenly disappeared? Would we notice?
I wake up to the cacophonous sound of my children mutinying. The MEMS gyros in their video game controllers are defunct, so they can’t play Wii Dance Party or Super Mario Brothers. Normally, my BodyMedia LINK Armband registers my sleep—and can monitor my heart rate to show if it is soaring due to stress, or something good for me, like running, but my armband is dead in the water so I am forced to gauge my sleep deprivation and heart rate without any electronic support. I have a feeling that this going to be a really long day.
I check my smartphone for the weather report so I know what to expect for the day, but without the MEMS accelerometer for orientation, my screen constantly shifts between landscape and portrait, leaving me even more irritated. I’m late for an important meeting, so I jump into my car and program the GPS, which, without its MEMS-based inertial navigation system, makes location awareness totally unreliable. Looks like I am going to have to get out the map, if I even still have one in the glove compartment.
Did I mention that I’m late for my friend’s surprise 40th birthday party and I’m in charge of taking the photographs? But without those amazing accelerometers giving me image stabilization on my digital camera, my images will surely be blurry. MEMS, where are you?
I have a “Eureka” moment. I could try to upload the photos to my MacBook and fix them there, but when I dropped my MacBook this morning, without the MEMS accelerometer to detect the drop and then freeze my hard drive, I'd lost the ability turn on my constant companion. Foiled again.
My nose twitches, and soon I am convulsed by violent sneezing. I think I forgot to take my allergy medication this morning…whoops. My Proteus Digital Health feedback system—which uses a MEMS sensor the size of a grain of sand to detect my medication and record when it was taken—is clearly not working either!
Thank you gentlemen for the very engaging conversation on this whimsical take on a "day without MEMS" - I know I could survive without MEMS. Though I'd rather not drive a car with my kids in it (especially) without airbags - that's a non-starter. I'd walk to walk that day!!
But the reality is, MEMS is here and it's everywhere; and in the future engineers like you guys will integrate it and find it in more and more places...
take care and thanks again for the comments!
I too like MEMS. I expect many innovations in future MEMS chips and MEMS based applications.
Of course we can live without any technology. But it will simply make engineers and engineering to disappear from this world.
Skip the following if you are not an engineer:
Engineering is human nature. Humans will think into the problem and come up with a solution. We ignorantly think that we have developed a perfect solution. There is nothing like perfection in this world. And infact, this realization is what we should call as perfection.
If the world ever becomes perfect, then there will be no evolution. So, my little definition of an Engineer:
A perfect engineer is one who creates an imperfect product.
This article is full of use cases of MEMS sensors. As docdivakar mentioned, just go back and be normal. If you depend on electronics to sleep, you are not doing proper exercise required. Go, hit the gym.
Karen, the answer is quite simple: just go back to what you were using/doing to get things done before MEMS came along! Millions of people around the world still do, without MEMS. Though I work in MEMS design & simulation, I for one, abhor the idea of being too dependent on technology -just don't let it control the your life!
Before GPS came along, people stopped and asked for directions! Now a days, my daughters text each other sitting 10ft apart rather than using their biological sound system and just talk to each other!
As far as your husband is concerned (& on behalf of all males!), just leave him alone to his beer, pizza and football games! Have mercy... don't blog about him... I am sure he will be thankful! :-))
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.