2013: Building the internet of things with MEMS and 3D advances

By Paul Lindner, Executive Technology Director, EV Group

A city’s skyline is a testament to the transformative power of technology—skyscrapers made possible only by the Bessemer steel manufacturing process introduced in the 19th century.  Now in the 21st century, the world is undergoing another major transformation, as new MEMS and 3D semiconductor manufacturing processes create the building blocks for the Internet of Things. Being able to build higher gave birth to the modern city, while being able to connect not just people, but all manner of devices, promises to be just as big a reorganization of society. Similar to skyscrapers and the Bessemer process, the infrastructure of the Internet of Things is being enabled by new low-cost, high- volume manufacturing processes.

Today, sensors are not a new technology anymore than steel was in the 19th century. What’s new is the introduction of manufacturing technologies that are lowering costs to the point where sensors transmitting information to the Internet can be affordably integrated into almost any device. Material advances have played an important role, as metal bonding technologies enable narrower seal frames and shrinks of MEMS devices. In 2013, device shrinks, new high-throughput tools and increased competition between manufacturers, as volume picks up in increasingly standardized capacity lines, will further drive the commoditization of MEMS. With Windows 8 for example providing an API for sensors, operating system requirements are also driving sensor standardization, thereby making it easier to assemble the infrastructure for the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things, however, is about more than just gathering information through ubiquitous sensors. Huge amounts of data need to be affordably stored and analyzed, in order to be useful, which requires keeping Moore’s Law alive. Fortunately, new semiconductor 3D manufacturing technologies are poised to play a critical role in further commoditizing memory and processing power. In 2013 high volume production of true 3D technology will commence. The industry will also see intensified wafer level developments particularly around image sensors and memory, as new DRAM designs allow for monolithic integration at the wafer level. Wafer-to-wafer bonding processes, combined with built in self-test, error detection and correction  are poised to overcome one of the few remaining hurdles to high-volume, low-cost 3D manufacturing.

Although pundits can debate how the Internet of Things will transform the world, it is becoming increasingly clear that new MEMS and 3D high-volume, low-cost manufacturing technologies will accelerate a radical change to society’s cyber skyline.


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4 thoughts on “2013: Building the internet of things with MEMS and 3D advances

  1. Samuel Campbell

    ubiquitous sensors – Ubiquitous Sensor Networks (USN) is used to describe a network of intelligent sensors that could, one day, become ubiquitous.

    Which really means:

    Because the tasks are performed by microprocessors, any gadget which mixes a (sensor and a microprocessor) is usually called as an intelligent sensor.

    To qualify as an intelligent sensor,

    the sensor and processor must be part of the same physical unit.

    A sensor whose only function is to detect and send an unprocessed signal to an external system which performs some action is not considered intelligent.

    Closely related:
    Real-time locating systems (RTLS) are used to automatically identify and track the location of objects or people in real time, usually within a building or other contained area.

    Wireless RTLS tags are attached to objects or worn by people, and in most Real Time Locating Systems, fixed reference points receive wireless signals from tags to determine their location.

    Examples of real-time locating systems include tracking automobiles through an assembly line, locating pallets of merchandise in a warehouse, or finding medical equipment in a hospital.

    The physical layer of Real Time Locating Systems technology is usually some form of radio frequency (RF) communication, but some systems use an optical (usually infrared) or acoustic (usually ultrasound) technology instead of or in addition to RF (Raido Frequency). Tags and fixed reference points can be transmitters, receivers, or both, all resulting in numerous possible technologagies and their combinations.

    RTLS Real time Location Systems are a form of local positioning system, and do not usually refer to GPS, mobile phone tracking, or systems that use only passive RFID tracking. Location information usually does not include speed, direction, or spatial orientation.

    Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is the use of a wireless non-contact system that uses radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data from a tag attached to an object, for the purposes of automatic identification and tracking.

    Some tags require no battery and are powered and read at short ranges via magnetic fields (electromagnetic induction). Others use a local power source and emit radio waves (electromagnetic radiation at radio frequencies). The tag contains electronically stored information which can be read from up to several meters (yards) away. Unlike a bar code, the tag does not need to be within line of sight of the reader and may be embedded in the tracked object.

    RFID tags are used in many industries. An RFID tag attached to an automobile during production can be used to track its progress through the assembly line. Pharmaceuticals can be tracked through warehouses. Livestock and pets may have tags injected, allowing positive identification of the animal.

    Since RFID tags can be attached to clothing, possessions, or even implanted within people, the possibility of reading personally-linked information without consent has raised privacy concerns.

  2. Samuel Campbell

    Most of this information comes from my insights from experience working with Receivers, Transmitters, Radar, Two Way Radio and Tel-a-type communications and
    Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia!:*) ~ Samuel

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