Sunday, April 20th, 2014

MEMS Industry Group at CES


 January, 2012, CES, Las Vegas—The MEMS Industry Group had a small pavilion where a number of their members displayed their wares. This set of displays illustrated the growing impact that MEMS have on consumer electronics.

Shawn Dubravac, chief economist and director of research for the Consumer Electronics Association noted that many of the changes and advances in consumer products are due to the unique capabilities of MEMS devices. The driver in consumer electronics is always to provide better user experiences, and electronics hold the key to better performance and functionality. Consumer products can run very high volumes, so manufacturers creating devices for this area must always work towards getting high functionality and performance, along with high reliability at the lowest cost possible.

Karen Lightman, managing director of the MEMS industry group (MIG) agreed and added that many companies drive innovation by developing products that create entirely new categories. Although most consumers do not know what a MEMS device is, they certainly appreciate the features that MEMS enable. The MEMS industry is growing and becoming deeply entrenched in the consumer electronics market segments.

One company in the pavilion, Akustica, makes microphones. Akustica's patented CMOS MEMS technology integrates the mechanical functionality of microphones and other sensors with analog and digital electronics. CMOS MEMS employ standard CMOS processes to fabricate microstructures within the metal-dielectric layers, resulting in mechanical structures that are just microns away from the analog and digital electronics.

Their AKU230 mike has an omnidirectional response pattern with a frequency response from 50 to 22K hertz. Active power is a maximum of 1.2 ma and standby is a nominal 11 ?A at 3 V. This is not a microphone you used for recording the London Philharmonic, but is more than adequate for consumer electronics products.

Another interesting company was WiSpry, make dynamically tunable RF modules. They make MEMS capacitors and inductors, which are used in impedance matching networks and tuning arrays to tune radios. The high Q-factors and wide tuning ranges make the radios perform better by virtually eliminating adjacent channel interference and crosstalk.

Applications for the digitally tunable components include RF matching circuits, phase shift networks, antenna array networks, agile frequency generation, and dynamically tunable filter systems. The low insertion loss, high Q-factor, and high linearity make software-controllable networks possible at lower power than the alternative technologies. Their product roadmap includes tunable filters, duplexers, and power amplifier tuners to further improve the signal quality for consumer devices.

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