LONDON – EE Times Confidential has published a special report and database focused on Microelectromechanical System (MEMS) components. The "MEMS Sector Database and Report" analyzes the current MEMS market and its future directions. The report includes a database of key facts about more than 200 MEMS market companies.
MEMS components, manufactured using many of the same techniques as electronic ICs, form a broad class of diverse sensors and actuators. They are not new – they have been around for almost as long as the IC – but for many years they remained focused on industrial and then automotive applications. What has changed is that the consumer electronics industry has surely and steadily latched on to MEMS sensors, particularly in smartphones and tablet computers, causing an explosion in demand – and increeased availability of components for new applications.
MEMS, and other sensors such as image sensors, are fast becoming for electronic machines what the five senses are for human beings.
The report highlights how the high growth rate being enjoyed in MEMS is attracting a number of players to engage and re-engage with the market. The report points out that the existence of the fabless-foundry business model in conventional ICs is also starting to influence and take hold in MEMS – although the technical background and challenges are significantly different.
The report includes analytical articles on a number of trends in MEMS in 2012 including the rising significance of fabless and specialized foundries and the entry of IC foundries into the MEMS business. It also looks at how the multiplicity of MEMS and related sensors and wireless devices on electronic equipment is driving explorations of sensor/software fusion. The report also highlights recent technical innovations in MEMS and moves into new applications in sports and well-being.
"MEMS-based applications that enable a higher quality of life are the most exciting new frontier for MEMS," said Karen Lightman, managing director for the MEMS Industry Group (Pittsburgh), in a statement. "MEMS is monitoring systems for medical diagnostics and rehabilitation via smart MEMS sensors, implants for drug delivery based on smart MEMS actuators, [systems using] MEMS inertial measurement units to enable increased mobility, artificial organs using MEMS microfluidics manufacturing techniques, and concussion enabling lifesaving, life-changing technologies that allow people to lead independent lives through remote detection and prevention with MEMS sensors in helmets. The list of Quality of Life and biomedical applications is endless."
One of the conclusions of the report is that MEMS are one of the agents-of-change that will transform the consumerization of electronics into its personalization. That will see MEMS components become even more plentiful and essential gatekeepers of the interface between the real world and the electronic domain.
Approximately half the 70-page report is devoted to the MEMS market database of a listing of more than 200 companies currently active in the MEMS sector. That includes IDMs; fabless companies; MEMS foundries; and support companies offering design software, materials or manufacturing equipment. Each entry describes the company's activities, identifies senior executives and provides complete contact details.
Thanks to the Nintendo Wii and then the Apple iPhone MEMS has finally gone mainstream. This is just the beginning of uses in CE as handsets and tablets become game platforms and devices try to become context aware.