PORTLAND, Ore.—Hewlett Packard Co. is actively pursuing "sensing as a service" in future applications of its micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) expertise, according to an HP business strategist.
Delivering the keynote address at this week's MEMS Executive Congress in Scottsdale, Ariz., Rich Duncombe said MEMS is a unique technology that has been disruptive for 25 years—already revolutionizing multiple industries with no end in sight. HP has been developing MEMS since 1985--mostly for its ink-jet printers—but recently it developing new applications of its MEMS expertise for seismic imaging and infrastructure monitoring.
In HP's core MEMS market—ink-jet printer heads—Duncombe claims that Moore's Law is not slowing down.
"Our MEMS technology for ink-jet printers has been doubling the number of drops per second every 18 months since 1985," said Duncombe. "What other disruptive technology continues to be disruptive after 25 years?"
But now HP is branching out into other MEMS technologies, all based on the same fabrication lines that are used to make its ink-jet nozzles. In particular, HP is supplying Shell Oil with ultra-precise MEMS accelerometers that Shell is using to improve its seismic imaging efforts. Shell is using as many as one million wireless sensor nodes per image. Shell has extensive data processing expertise which is was previously using with full-sized seismic sensors to search for oil, but by adapting those processing capabilities for use with high-resolution MEMS sensors has been straightforward.
MEMS nozzles for thermal ink-jet print (TIJ) heads at HP have been doubling the number of droplets-per-minutefor 25 years, called TIJ Moores Law.
However, the deployment of similar infrastructure sensors for applications such as monitoring bridges, buildings and other assets that can deteriorate over time or be damaged by earthquakes usually is expected to be performed by personnel without the expertise or data centers necessary to interpret the raw sensor data. As a consequence, HP now believes that "sensing as a service" makes sensor for infrastructure monitoring. Thus, instead of just selling the seismic sensors, it is seeking to sell a service that includes both installing the sensors and providing 24/7 monitoring.
"There are so many different ways to gather information about the environment, then take that data and make informed decisions with it," said Duncombe. "MEMS is front and center in a market that is enormous."
Duncombe said that "sensing as a service" is already a $150 billion market today, but will grow by leaps-and-bounds to as much as $350 billion by 2013.