Bosch forms MEMS subsidiary

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July 29, 2005 — The Bosch Group of Stuttgart, Germany, announced the founding of subsidiary Bosch Sensortec GmbH. Headquartered in Kusterdingen, Germany, the subsidiary will apply MEMS sensors to high growth markets like consumer electronics. It will start with a workforce of 20, according to a Bosch release.

Parent company Bosch Group says more than 300 of its engineers are working in MEMS. The new subsidiary will have access to the development and manufacturing expertise of divisions like automotive electronics, which is located a short distance away from the new MEMS subsidiary.

The company says the subsidiary is also intended to address special customer requests. It will offer a foundry service for consumer electronics, medical technology, security systems, logistics and life sciences. It claims to have significantly decreased its time-to-market of new products.

The subsidiary’s first product, the SMB 360 tri-axis accelerometer, was developed for the consumer goods space. It is targeted for entertainment electronics, mobile handsets and computer devices, as well as for possible applications in health and security. Prototypes are available, the company says, and production is planned to begin by the end of the year. Other products such as pressure and yaw sensors are under development.

The formation of the subsidiary is in keeping with recent trends in the MEMS fabrication sector, whereby large companies have either split off their MEMS divisions or acquired external ones in order to more easily penetrate new markets and offer a foundry service. In 2002, GE Industrial Systems bought NovaSensor from TRW; In 2003, Infineon Technologies acquired SensoNor; In 2004, Motorola’s semiconductor group, including its MEMS group, was spun off as a new publicly-traded entity called Freescale.

At the same time, a bevy of MEMS manufacturers have raced to add tri-axis sensing capabilities to their product line to meet an anticipated increase in demand from consumer electronics companies. In March, Apple Computer announced all new PowerBook laptops would come equipped with a tri-axis MEMS sudden motion sensor as standard equipment. Other firms are beginning to use MEMS sensors in cell phones, handheld computers and other mobile devices.

 David Forman


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