Karen Lightman, the Managing Director of the MEMS Industry Group, blogs from the MEMS Executive Congress Europe, which was held March 20th, in Zurich, Switzerland.
ST’s Carmelo Papa boldly declared that “MEMS is only limited by the imagination” during his opening keynote at MEMS Executive Congress Europe last week. In many ways this phrase exemplifies the conference itself. All of the speakers on our four panels — industrial, biomedical/Quality of Life (QoL), automotive and consumer – as well as our keynotes — conveyed that frontier feeling that MEMS can truly change the world. Sure we have some challenges to overcome (the biggest being packaging), but the potential of having MEMS (frickin’) everywhere is a very tangible reality.
Thankfully the media who attended the Congress Europe have already done an impressive job of highlighting the panelists’ and keynotes’ more technical points. (Please refer to our Congress press coverage for the growing list of stories.) So instead of retelling you who said what regarding which ISO qualification, I’ll use this blog to give you the more colorful side of the Congress (shocking disclosure, I know). And speaking of color, MIG’s Monica Takacs did a great job of capturing the Congress in pictures and we’ve posted them on our Flickr site; you will want to check it out.
I am going to give you a taste of the Congress by sharing with you my favorite quotes, saving my very favorite for last. I’ll start with one by our opening keynote, Carmelo Papa. When Carmelo was talking “off the ST script,” his playful Italian personality made him a crowd favorite. Like when he said that he couldn’t reveal ST’s biggest customer “even under torture,” but he’d give us some hints: “It is green, round and delicious to eat.” What a great way to describe Apple. I also liked how he described MEMS as the “mouse for portable devices” as it enables a new realm of gesture.
My next favorite quote was from VTI’s Hannu Laatikainen. I began to think of him as a “Finnish Haiku Poet” when he said that we needed to “treat the car more like a human that can see, feel, hear, smell and taste.” Great stuff. I absolutely enjoyed hearing every single word coming out of the mouth of Dr. Berger of Clinatec and it wasn’t just because I am a sucker for a French accent. I loved his description of connecting technology with medicine and his passion for patient health, safety and welfare. He urged that there must be more money for clinical trials of technology for medical treatment to prove efficacy (not just money for consumer-inspired sport applications masking as healthcare products). I couldn’t agree more.
I laughed when Stefan Finkbeiner introduced himself and stated that his company, Akustica, hailed from Pittsburgh, the “MEMS center of the US.” Stefan then modified the statement by saying that Pittsburgh is the “MEMS capital of Pennsylvania” and “definitely the MEMS capital of Western PA.” My hometown is a lot of things, but not yet the MEMS capital of the US.
But my absolute favorite quote from MEMS Executive Congress Europe came from Continental’s Bernhard Schmid. When someone from the audience asked the panelists if visual sensors will replace MEMS on automotive, Bernhard responded with a rhetorical question: “Have the eyes cannibalized the ears? No. Both senses/sensors are needed for smart automotive.” I guess he was inspired by Hannu’s earlier comment about the car’s senses being more human. I wouldn’t have expected such eloquence from a bunch of automotive engineering executives. But like the Congress in general, these guys impressed and surprised me.
MEMS Executive Congress Europe was a fantastic success. I was expecting 100 attendees; we had 155. I thought we had a handful of sponsors; we had over 30.
While pausing momentarily to reflect on the highlights of our European event, my staff and I are looking forward to building the content for this year’s upcoming MEMS Executive Congress US in Scottsdale (November 7-8). And yes, we are looking at another Congress event in Europe in 2013 and possibly in Asia as well.
By design, MEMS Executive Congress is unique in the industry. Involving only minimal bribery (just the chocolate in Zurich at our European event!), we have been fortunate to engage MEMS suppliers and their end-user customers in thoughtful, sometimes spirited discussions about the use of MEMS in commercial applications. With our success in both the US and now in Europe, MIG is meeting a need in the market. Good thing it’s also lots of fun.