A flurry of activity by MEMS companies indicates micro-electromechanical systems appear to be taking off for sure.
For one, after years of research, development and manufacturing capacity build-up, two pioneering companiesSiTime and Discerahave each been steadily building market share by displacing bulky quartz crystals with compact MEMS chips.
Silicon Laboratories has purchased MEMS startup Silicon Clocks and plans to begin integrating MEMS timing modules atop otherwise standard CMOS chips.
This will eliminate the need for a separate timing chip package, spurring the MEMS oscillator market into high gear.
Meanwhile MEMS oscillator developer Sand 9 will be the first MEMS oscillator maker to crack the high-precision, temperature-compensated oscillator market this year, which should enable it to participate in the market for 3G/4G handsets, GPS navigators and Wi-Fi-based devices.
And the industry's first mobile handset to pack a MEMS gyroscope will roll next month. Every major smartphone vendor is predicted to follow suit by 2012.
Gyroscopes in smartphones can support new user interface modes and enable augmented-reality applications that overlay information about a target when a phone's digital camera is pointed at it.
This will be a great piece of gear to have in industrial applications, in a process plant or on a factory assembly line, or for inspecting buildings for HVAC leaks.
Industrial control is climbing slowly into the 21st century. And MEMS is the horse pulling the cart up this hill.
And MEMS-based microbots are not far behind.