By Karen Lightman, Executive Director, MEMS Industry Group
Back in 2001 when I was a young mother with a baby in diapers, I dreamed of a MEMS-enabled gizmo (perhaps on her diaper?) that would remotely indicate if my daughter was sleeping. She was (and still is) a restless sleeper, and I had many nights where I tip-toed into her room to ensure that she was breathing and yes, indeed, still alive in her crib, only to then accidentally wake her up. Sigh… This was way before WiFi, Bluetooth and MEMS sensors at a price point that would legitimize such a gadget. But I was a sleep-deprived mother who yearned for some peace of mind that my baby was safe and comfortable, so that I could get some rest, too.
Now, 14 years later, there is an even better device for young parents that I couldn’t have imagined – MonBaby Breathing and Rollover Monitor. I’m honored that MonBaby will be participating in the annual crowd-pleasing favorite, MEMS & Sensors Technology Showcase at the 11th annual MEMS Executive Congress US 2015, on November 4. According to the company, with MonBaby, anxious parents can sleep more soundly with the award-winning baby monitor that snaps like a button onto any article of a child’s clothing. MonBaby gives new parents peace of mind and helps them to sleep better knowing that they will receive an audible alarm on their smartphone if the baby rolls onto his or her stomach during sleep or stops breathing. Now the question is, can they make something similar for my teenage daughter who is a now a freshman in high school?
I am looking forward to meeting the inventors of MonBaby, as well as the other four contestants in MEMS & Sensors Technology Showcase, including the uber-cool Bosch eBike Systems. Robert Bosch GmbH promises that with their new eBike, peddling up that big hill may soon get a lot easier, because they are now working with various cycling brands to create electric pedal-assist bikes sold at independent bicycle shops throughout North America. Bosch eBike Systems boosts a cyclist’s human power with electric power at speeds up to 20 mph. The core components that give Bosch eBike Systems cyclists that “tailwind” feeling are a Bosch microprocessor and three sensors that measure a bicyclist’s torque, cadence and wheel speed 1,000 times per second. I can’t wait to try it out for a spin in Napa. (BTW, that is where MEMS Executive Congress is being held!)
Another cool contestant is the Voltafield Magnetic Sensor, which promises to be the new key component for e-compass and motion sensing in wearables. The makers of Voltafield’s ultra-low power miniature magnetic sensor are hoping that their chip’s Anisotropic Magneto-Resistive (AMR) sensor technology — which reduces by 10x the power consumption of a traditional Hall magnetic sensor — is the clear answer. Voltafield integrates 3-axis magnetic sensors and signal conditioning circuits on monolithic silicon together with Wafer Level Chip Scale Package (WLCSP) to form a software programmable 1.1mm x 1.1mm device. Clearly, they hope to revolutionize the wearable world – and honestly, the potential goes way beyond wearables: Everything needs to consume less power these days!
I am also really intrigued by Horse Sense Shoes – which reminds me of a Dr. Doolittle creation enabled by MEMS. Horse Sense Shoes has developed an equestrian wearable that is making understanding horse health possible. They feature non-invasive, Freescale Semiconductor MEMS multi-sensor devices, which are typically accelerometers and pressure sensors that can measure weight variations and motion patterns as informational indicators on the status and health of the horse. Residing under the horse’s hooves, these MEMS sensors can detect joint problems, laminitis or lameness early enough for effective treatment, potentially saving a horse’s life. Again, this has huge implications for all large (and small) animals. Doesn’t the US spend $60B on pet products each year? I am sure there are tons of folks who would spend the money on a wearable for Fido, too.
And last but not least, is Cambridge CMOS Sensors Gas Sensor (the CCS811), which offers a breath of fresh air in a tiny ultra-low power device. This metal oxide gas sensor co-packaged with a micro controller unit delivers a self-contained solution for assessing air quality in indoor environments. Whether embedded in a smartphone or integrated into a standalone device, CCS811 generates alerts to provide intuitive ways to evaluate air quality, opening up new application areas for improved health and wellbeing such as ambient air quality monitoring and breathe analysis in smartphones, tablets, wearables and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This minute device has massive potential for enabling myriad applications that will have a positive impact on our world.
So I hope you’ll join me soon in Napa, CA. for MEMS Executive Congress US November 4-6 to check out these contestants in the Tech Showcase. Only one will be crowned a winner. Whom would you pick?
Check out our website for more information: http://us2015.memscongress.com/mems-sensors-technology-showcase/
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Seems unlikely that Apple will be giving up battery space in exchange for a gas sensor.