MEMS Industry Group Blog

Sentimental Feelings – Looking Back and Forward to MEMS & Sensors Executive Congress

By Karen Lightman, Executive Director, MEMS & Sensors Industry Group

I’m feeling sentimental as I prepare with the MEMS & Sensors Industry Group (MSIG) team for our annual MEMS & Sensors Executive Congress. Maybe it’s because this will be the last Executive Congress before MSIG becomes a strategic association partner of SEMI (here’s the announcement in case you missed it). I remember the first time we hosted the Congress in Pittsburgh. We combined it with our technical conference, then called “METRIC”, for a three-day extravaganza of MEMS. I’ll never forget the looks on everyone’s faces when a speaker (from DARPA) talked about the battlefield of the future and many in the audience were shocked by a description of the use of drones and wearable devices to monitor soldier health. Now both of these technologies are commonplace.

Maybe I’m reminiscing because this year we’re going back to one of my favorite places to host the event, at the JW Marriott Camelback in Scottsdale, AZ. The first time we hosted there was in in 2006 and I fondly remember the closing reception at Mummy Mountain for the biggest rack of ribs I’d ever seen on a single plate (with a side of ½ a chicken).

Whatever the reason, I know that I look forward to the Executive Congress every year because it gives me an opportunity to connect with leaders in and around the MEMS and sensors industry. I remember at the Congress in 2007 just after the iPhone was released and Philippe Kahn of Fullpower said the iPhone was an “elegant brick” – he later went on to invent the first camera in a mobile phone that revolutionized its adoption and helped change the way we use our mobile devices. We had no idea back then what was going to happen with the use of MEMS and sensors in the iPhone. It’s thrilling to think we had one of the first glimpses of it.

I remember when Jérémie Bouchaud presented a teardown of the Apple iPhone in 2012 – with a big reveal of who was (and wasn’t) inside. I remember being so excited to be among the first to know. That is often the case with the Executive Congress, we’ll hear from a speaker and then years later, it will be on the front page of the NYTimes or become as commonplace as a wearable on my wrist or a drone in the sky.

That’s why I’m excited that at this year’s Executive Congress we’ll have several speakers talking about the next revolution of MEMS microphones (Paul Beckman, DSP Concepts), RF MEMS (Dan Hyman of XCOM Wireless) and hear from our opening keynote on how this all will work in the Internet of Things (IoT),(Cameron Coursey, AT&T VP of Product Development for IoT Solution). Coursey’s keynote will focus on the Future of Sensors and MEMS in the IoT and will talk about “new licensed low-power wide-area cellular technologies, standard radio module configurations, embedded SIMs, virtualized networks, light-weight protocols for device management, cloud-based data storage with simple tools to manipulate data, and multi-layered security solutions that wrap data in a protective shell. Some use cases include asset monitoring, wearables, connected cars, and smart cities.” Coursey will bring these issues to light from a carrier’s perspective and share his suggestions of what the MEMS and sensors industry needs to do to prepare for this exciting future.

Our other keynote is Phillip Rayer, General Manager, Local Motors. Rayer’s keynote is entitled The 3D-Printed Autonomous Car: How Sensor Technology, Micro Manufacturing and Open Innovation is the Future of the Self-Driving Vehicle. When I read his abstract I feel as though I am being transported to Willy Wonka’s factory – it’s so fantastical – but this time, it’s really true (and not fantasy). Imagine a world where autonomous vehicles are 3D printed on demand, enabling a smart planet with no emissions, improved efficiency and improved safety. I am also hoping that Rayer will bring along a vehicle for us to ogle (and maybe test drive…??).

For those of you who’ve been to the Executive Congress before, you know we like to always mix things up a bit, to keep it fresh and keep it on the cutting edge of technology and innovation. Don’t worry – we’ve still kept the Technology Showcase (and it’s going to be amazing, yet again). But this year there is so much content that we’ve created two tracks of content on the first day to appeal to our audience’s appetite for MEMS and sensors “on the cusp of commercialization” (12-18 months to market) as well as those that are further out on the path to commercialization and have the potential for trillions of MEMS and sensors. For the latter, I am talking about TSensors®, the initiative launched by Janusz Bryzek. TSensors is a sensor-based initiative to focus on a future world with food, medical care, clean energy and a clean environment for all. As Bryzek likes to say “the world’s biggest problems represent the world’s biggest opportunities.” The track at the Congress will feature speakers who will discuss future technology solutions and you can learn more by reading the TSensors Vision Background document that lays out the TSensors Initiative and the path to a Trillion Sensors.

So yes, I am reminiscing and fondly remembering some of my favorite moments from the Executive Congress’ of years past while I look forward to this year (November 9-11). Have you registered yet? It’s not too late to join us and be a part of the best networking event in the MEMS and sensors industry. I’ll see you there!


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