MSIG Executive Congress Preview

MSIG Executive Congress Preview

Maturing Infrastructure Accelerates Practical IoT Adoption and MEMS Demand

By Paula Doe, SEMI

What’s moving the Internet of Things from hype to mainstream? Big improvements in the sensor devices, the software to make them intelligent, and now even optimized communications networks to reduce power use and cost. This year’s MEMS and Sensors Industry Group’s MSIG Executive Congress, an annual U.S. gathering of the MEMS and sensors sector, will take place November 9-11, and will definitely make it clear just how fast the industry is moving.

IoT devices increasely use cellular connections over wide area. Source: Machina, AT&T.
 Y axis: "Cellular share of wide area IoT traffic"

“Technology development occurs when ripe seeds fall on fertile ground. Today we have a lot of fertile ground for the IoT, and the ripe seeds are coming,” notes event keynote speaker Cameron Coursey, AT&T VP Product Development, IoT Solutions, referencing Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators. One big step in the enabling infrastructure for connected sensors could be a new wide-area LTE-M cellular communication network, optimized specifically for low power, low cost, limited bandwidth communication for the IoT, with carrier-grade security. A pilot project in San Francisco is planned for November, preparing for the rollout in 2017.

“This opens up opportunities for industrial and wearable sensor applications with better communication performance deep within buildings or on the body, with much smaller radio modules and longer lasting batteries,” he suggests.  AT&T is working with radio module suppliers to introduce the smaller modules next year. Samsung will evaluate the network for improving the performance of wearables or other consumer devices. Other participants in the pilot program include users evaluating monitoring of water meters, vehicle fleets and Pepsi vending machines. AT&T now reports more than 30 million connected IoT devices (other than phones and tablets) on its network, including 1.5 million asset management devices and 10.5 million connected cars.

Software eases development of smart audio applications

Vastly improved machine learning for pattern recognition can make low cost MEMS microphones useful for many event detection applications, but the audio design can be a challenge, with all the variable conditions in which the mics have to work. One option to help could be DSP Concepts’ easy-to-use graphic design environment to streamline development, including IP blocks for things like noise and echo reduction.  “Everyone is focused on vision, which can cost $70 to add, but a $5 microphone solution can bring in a lot of machine intelligence, particularly useful for event detection,” notes Paul Beckmann, founder and CTO, another speaker at the MSIG Executive Congress. He suggests a wide range of potential applications, from directing a security camera in the direction of detected activity such as breaking glass, to alerting the self-driving car to the siren of an ambulance or to the sound of impending mechanical problems, to helping doctors improve diagnoses from sounds from the heart or lungs with digitally enhanced stethoscopes or monitors of the sounds of breathing and coughing.

Image processing technology drives adoption of more automotive sensors

The better sensors, and the recent advances in machine learning for pattern recognition, are also enabling the emerging automotive advanced driver assistance systems. More cameras, radar, and LIDAR on the car will need stabilization systems to be able to see further ahead, and that will require relatively high performance inertial sensors, reports Jérémie Bouchaud, IHS Director and principal analyst for  MEMS & Sensors, who will speak on trends in the automotive market.

MEMS time-of-flight may also be able to compete in the low to medium range LIDAR market, those laser-based sensors that can produce high resolution, 3D images even through darkness and inclement weather, though typically cost thousands of dollars for each unit in a multibeam system.  While plenty of companies are starting to develop different lower cost approaches, MicroVision suggests MEMS mid-range time-of-flight depth scanning technology is an already established lower cost option for blind-spot, stop-and-go, parking-assist, and lane-assist applications. “This is the basic established MEMS technology of the pico projector, so it should be really cost effective,” says Jari Honkanen, director of Technical Marketing and Applications Development at MicroVision, another speaker.  He notes the MicroVision technology for depth sensing uses a fast-modulated IR laser with a single scanning MEMS mirror, so the detection resolution and frame rate can be dynamically adjusted with software for coarse vs. detailed sensing as needed for the application.

The MSIG Executive Congress, November 9-11 in Scottsdale, Arizona, will also feature talks on recent developments and emerging opportunities across IoT, automotive, biomedical, and printed/hybrid sensor markets from executives from Bosch, Cagen Vascular, eXo,  Ilika, InvenSense,  Local Motors, MEMSIC, Northeastern U.,  NXP,   Qualtre, U. Florida, XCOM, and Yole. 

For more information about the upcoming MSIG Executive Congress, visit

Global Update
November 1, 2016