Too Few Samples to Predict MEMS Lifetime? Here’s a Solution!

By:  Allyson Hartzell, Consulting Scientist, Veryst Engineering, LLC.

Your MEMS parts have been on reliability test and it’s time to predict lifetime.  How long will they last in the field? Virtually all MEMS reliability engineers must address this question during product development.  Yet prediction of accurate product end of life can be hampered by limited data, as can be very typical in new product development of MEMS.  This study will provide a method for the reliability engineer to predict end of life with a small sample size. Data from ten MEMS samples tested to failure will be compared using two cumulative probability distributions.  The paper will show how the proper lifetime prediction method will eliminate unexpected field failures for your new micro device.  Now for some statistics.

Lifetime and Bathtub Curve

The lifetime of a product falls into three failure categories.  Figure 1 is the bathtub curve, which depicts the failure over the life of the product.  The plot is the instantaneous failure rate versus product operating time. There are three distinct time ranges that exhibit different failure rate behavior in this plot:

  • Early life failure, also called infant mortality (parts with defects will fail early in the product lifetime).
  • Low steady state failure, also called useful life (this defect-free population has a low failure rate; the failures that occur in this timeframe are due to external random events).
  • End of life failure, also called wearout (the population failure rate increases after the useful life as the product intrinsically wears out).

Product operational lifetime is targeted for the useful life time range, as this is the lowest observed failure rate over time.

Figure 1.  The bathtub curve is an instantaneous failure rate curve versus time.

Lifetime Distributions

Now that we understand the instantaneous life curve, how does one pick the proper statistical distribution to predict product end of life using a cumulative distribution failure (CDF) model? My answer: start with the most popular distributions for reliability lifetime prediction.  These are the Weibull, Lognormal and Exponential, and their definitions are summarized here:

  • The Weibull distribution is also a continuous probability distribution and was empirically determined to model particle size distribution. Here I work with the Weibull 2-parameter (2P) version.
  • The Lognormal distribution is a continuous probability distribution of a random variable with a normally distributed logarithm.
  • The Exponential distribution is a Poisson-based probability distribution that describes the time between events which occur independently at a constant average rate.

The two parameters in the Weibull 2P distribution are β, the shape parameter, and α, the characteristic life.  The characteristic life is the time at which 63.2% of the population has failed.  For Weibull distributions, β > 1 is in wearout and β < 1 is termed early life failure (both of these terms are described via the bathtub curve).

Figure 2 is the mathematical expression of the CDF (Cumulative Distribution Function) for the Weibull 2P distribution.  Figure 3 is the plot of the Weibull 2-parameter CDF with time as a function of 1/α, while varying β.

Figure 2.  CDF of Weibull distribution, 2-Parameter.

Figure 3.  Weibull CDF curve as function of 1/α, varying β.

Figure 4 is the mathematical expression of the CDF for the Lognormal distribution while Figure 5 depicts the CDF graphically.  The time at which 50% of the population has failed is termed T50, and σ is the standard deviation.

Figure 4.  CDF of the Lognormal distribution

Figure 5.  Lognormal CDF curve, varying σ.

Use of the 2-parameter Weibull for small sample sizes is the best choice for lifetime prediction.  The same set of data will be plotted via both the Lognormal and the Weibull 2P distributions, and this will help us discover why.

Small Sample Size

Consider the case of having lifetime data for 10 MEMS parts that all failed during reliability testing.  Why is 10 a small sample size?  Because in this case study we follow the advice of reliability pioneer Dr. Bob Abernethy who identified <21 as a small sample size.

I will derive the 1% predicted failure rate assuming both a Weibull and Lognormal distribution to illustrate the degree to which the predictions can vary.  Targeting 1% failure rate instead of the typical 50% failure rate is more important to the MEMS producer as early failure (prior to end of life) can have deleterious effects on the OEM and ultimately the new product marketplace acceptance.  Early failure of new technologies can be deleterious to the product itself.  Consumers and investors will remember that the product performed poorly in the field, and differently than was predicted!

Figure 6. Weibull CDF plot—failure rate versus time with 60% confidence limits

The r2 fit is for the Weibull prediction in Figure 6 is good at 0.908.  This dataset has 60% confidence limits calculated.  The 60% confidence limits means that 20% of the time the product will fail earlier than the lower confidence limit (see Table 1). The confidence limits are split percentage-wise around the prediction, which explains why Table 1 has 80% lower confidence limits.

The same data are also plotted in a Lognormal CDF plot (Figure 7). The r2 fit of 0.0966 is slightly better than the Weibull.  The 60% confidence limits are again plotted.

Figure 7. Lognormal CDF plot—failure rate versus time with 60% confidence limits

Table 1.  Data summary at 1% failure rate

Table 1 illustrates how the 2-parameter Weibull prediction can avoid an overly optimistic lifetime prediction.   The Weibull predicts that 1% failure will occur 11,000 hours earlier than the Lognormal prediction.  The Lognormal 80% lower confidence limit at 1% failure rate is also very optimistic in its prediction versus the Weibull.


MEMS technologies require lifetime prediction, often with small sample sizes. The prediction of end of life with limited samples using different predictive methodologies results in a large range of lifetimes. It is also important to target a low failure rate instead of the typical 50% failure rate during prediction.  Early population failure is important to the MEMS producer as knowledge of good reliability is critical to product introduction.  Use of the wrong distribution can result in an overly optimistic prediction and unhappy MEMS system customers who experience early product failure during operation.  This case study highlights that the Weibull 2P prediction is more conservative when compared to the Lognormal distribution when predicting end of life for your MEMS device.

Cool consumer products made possible by MEMS/Sensors

Contributed by MicroVision, Inc. (January 3, 2017)

We live in an always-on world, and thanks to the myriad of MEMS and sensors in a myriad of products today, we are granted unrestricted access to the technologies that amplify and simplify our daily lives. MEMS-mirror based Laser Beam Scanning solutions, such as those enabled by MicroVision’s PicoP® scanning technology, can offer projected display and interactivity capabilities that could turn today’s technologies into tomorrow’s innovations.

Take for instance the smart home assistant – a device that is part of a market expected to reach more than $30 billion and a household penetration rate of over 60% by 2021*. In the future, we could see these hubs responding to more than just our voices, but also our hand gestures.

This dream can be made into reality with MEMS-based 3D depth sensing solutions that let devices “see” the environment in three dimensions. Imagine touchless gesture capabilities in smart home applications like speakers, light fixtures, security alarms, or even robot assistants and other artificial intelligence devices. When combining gesture recognition technology with a projected display, products can boast a natural user interface that eliminates the need for a screen while offering the user extreme portability.

The integration of these functionalities helps to facilitate the seamless immersion of the latest technological advancements into our everyday lives.

The same types of features can also be deployed in commercial settings. Virtual touchscreens in scenarios such as restaurants could streamline the dining process – while adding some fun: picture the menu being projected directly onto the table for you to select your meal and pay the bill, or interactive games and educational puzzles available on demand to entertain the younger ones at the table while waiting for the food delivery.

Here’s a further look into how MEMS-based Laser Beam Scanning solutions can enable some pretty cool products:

Demand for small and low cost 3D depth sensing solutions is growing rapidly, with the global 3D sensor market estimated to grow to $5.46B in 2022 at a CAGR of 26.5%**. Innovation is always on the horizon and we are excited to see how MEMS and sensors will play a role wowing us.





A Big Deal About Almost Nothing – Vacuum Encapsulation of MEMS Devices by Wafer Bonding

by Eric Pabo, Business Development Manager, MEMS, EV Group

Aligned wafer bonding for wafer-level capping was an enabling technology for the amazing growth of inertial MEMS devices, such as accelerometer and gyroscopes, during the last decade. Today, the vacuum level in the cavity of the packaged MEMS device has a significant effect on power consumption for devices such as gyroscopes and on the device performance for microbolometers. However, until today, the high-volume process systems for aligned wafer bonding have done most of the pre-processing and all of the wafer handling and wafer-to-wafer alignment in an ambient atmosphere. The bond chamber was the only process step where a vacuum environment was possible.

This handling and alignment in ambient atmosphere imposed two significant constraints. The first is that any surface modification performed had to be compatible with an ambient atmosphere. For example, a pre-processing step that removes aluminum oxide from an aluminum metal layer would be useless because a native oxide layer would start growing as soon as the aluminum metal was exposed to ambient atmosphere. The second constraint is that any pre-processing to desorb water vapor and other molecules from the surface of the wafers that was performed prior to alignment and bonding would be rendered useless by exposure to the ambient atmosphere. The effectiveness of baking out the aligned and clamped wafer pair separated by spacers of 50-100 microns inside the bond chamber is limited by the space between the wafers. In addition, it is very difficult to bake out the wafers at different temperatures, since this limits the ability to protect thermally sensitive wafers as well as to fully activate the getters (materials that are used to improve and maintain the vacuum level in a cavity or device). Both the issues of preventing pre-treated surfaces from being exposed to ambient atmosphere and the need to bake out wafers effectively for high-vacuum applications can be resolved by doing all of the wafer handling and alignment in a high vacuum.

Previously, the need for high-vacuum encapsulation of MEMS devices was met by device-level packaging and there was no impetus for solving the technical challenges associated with designing and operating the necessary equipment—such as optical wafer-to-wafer alignment systems—in a high-vacuum environment. However, device-level packaging is expensive and not suitable for high-volume manufacturing, therefore driving the need for aligned wafer bonding in a high-vacuum cluster tool configuration.

A vacuum cluster tool base that enables handling in a high vacuum can be configured with the appropriate processing modules for the desired process. One configuration, which is configured for surface pre-treatments, can have a load lock for moving wafers in and out of the vacuum environment, a surface treatment module capable of removing surface oxides and activating the surface, a vacuum aligner, and a bond chamber. The configuration optimized for high-vacuum encapsulation of MEMS devices would replace the surface treatment module with a programmable bake-out module for desorption and getter activation. Such a high-vacuum cluster tool does not necessarily displace existing bonding systems but will enable low-temperature covalent bonding, low-temperature bonding of aluminum, and the encapsulation of high vacuum levels in device cavities while encapsulating the devices at the wafer level.


Process Flow for Aligned Wafer Bonding in High Vacuum Cluster Tool

2017 CES – Deep Thoughts by Karen Lightman

CES – it’s the show I love to hate. I love it because there is no show on earth that comes close to it! Where else can you be with 150,000 of the biggest (and smallest) players in electronics? I hate it because I can’t bear to miss it, and it messes with my ability to fully unplug over the holidays.

But seriously it’s a MUST ATTEND event for me and colleagues in/around the MEMS and sensors industry (MEMS & Sensors Industry Group). For 2017 CES I am looking forward to a lot of things and they include MSIG’s Member Pavilion in the Smart Home area of  the Sands Convention Center (booth 40736!) – where the MSIG staff and I will be prosthelytizing the competitive benefits of using MEMS and sensors.  I hope to see you there too – especially if you’re looking for new ways to innovate! Just remember to wear your comfy shoes (I wear my reliable and oh-so-comfortable Dansko clogs!).

My list of favorite things continues and also includes the MSIG one-day conference “MEMS & Sensors: Personalizing Consumer Technology” at the Venetian Level 4, Marcello 4501 on January 5 (register now!):

  • Kent Novak, Senior VP and General Manager, DLP Products at Texas Instruments sharing TI’s latest and greatest in MEMS displays in homes, vehicles and wearable devices
  • One of my dearest and oldest friends in the business, Cleopatra Cabuz, CTO of Honeywell Life Safety will share a Honeywell/Intel case study on Reducing Workplace Injury & Increasing Productivity
  • Two great presentations on wearables – one with Steven LeBouef, CEO Valencell and another with Wisewear CEO and Founder, Jerry Wilmink
  • The panel some of the biggest C-level folks in MEMS and sensors will discuss where Consumer Electronics are taking the sensors industry
  • Something that my kids are hoping I’ll put under the Christmas tree (sorry – not this year): Jack McCauley’s presentation on “Virtual Reality Head Tracking Sans Motion Sickness”
  • I live in the great city of Pittsburgh and while are aren’t the “Steel City” of yesteryear, air quality is still really important to me and my family – that’s why I am looking forward to the Libelium presentation on “Real Solutions for IoT and Smart Cities” using wireless sensor networks
  • Machine Learning is a big deal and that’s why we’re including it in our conference, compliments of Qualcomm’s Jeff Gehlhaar
  • Last but certainly not least is Josh Knauer of Rhiza, who is coming to CES for the first time to share with us his expertise on data analytics and what secrets for MEMS and sensors it can reveal

Bottom line – CES 2017 portends to be the greatest show on earth and certainly one of the largest. I hope to see you there and give me a shout out if you’d like to set up a meeting – we’ll have coffee brewing all day at the MSIG Pavilion, I’ll keep a cuppa just for you. J

MEMS and Sensors: Key-enabling technologies for Automotive ADAS and HUD systems

Jari Honkanen, Director of Technical Marketing and Applications Development, MicroVision, Inc.

While governments and regulators are mandating road safety improvements, and as consumers are asking for safer and less stressful driving experiences, automakers are turning to sensors, electronics, and software to provide Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) features with a vision culminating in self-driving, autonomous vehicles.

The goals for autonomous vehicles range from fewer traffic accidents, reduced insurance costs, and increased productivity to increased fuel efficiency. As a car’s value shifts from mechanics to software and electronics to meet these expectations, there is a significant opportunity for a new class of component suppliers, such as MEMS/sensors providers, to experience growth in the automotive ecosystem.

ADAS Applications

Current sensor technologies available for today’s ADAS systems like camera sensors, RADAR, Sonar, and LIDAR have their individual advantages and limitations. As we look to the future, new sensors such as those enabled by MicroVision’s MEMS scanned LIDAR sensor concept can be applied to a variety of different ADAS applications including lane departure warning, blind spot detection, and parking assistance to further advance the vehicle’s performance.

HUD Applications

MEMS devices can also be applied to Automotive Laser Beam Scanning (LBS) head-up displays in embedded and aftermarket solutions. Benefits include reduced driver distraction and thus, increased driver safety. HUD systems can also be integrated with ADAS to display information and alerts. Existing windshield applications project pivotal information within the driver’s line of sight. In the future, augmented reality is expected to play a role in the display of driver safety and infotainment material.

Automobiles in the future are likely to contain multiple MEMS devices, creating both opportunities and challenges for the MEMS industry and supply chain.

Jari Hokanan is the Director of Technical Marketing and Applications Development at MicroVision Inc. He will speak further on the topic of MEMS and sensors at this year’s MEMS and Sensors Executive Congress 2016. Click here to register.

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

*Originally posted on the Solid State Technology website, click here to view!

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 theNYTimes 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!

Where Are We Going with Wearables?

By Robert (Bob) Schoenfield, VP Worldwide Sales and Marketing, QuickLogic


Wearable technology (which includes such items as smartwatches, medical devices, smart clothing, fitness trackers, and smart eyewear) has already become a big business.  Market research firm IDTechEx estimates that the total market for these devices will be worth over $30 billion in 2016.  While wearable technology products already deliver an incredible amount of functionality at very reasonable prices, new capabilities and features will create substantial market growth over the next ten years.  IDTechEx, for example, estimates that the total market will grow another five times to reach over $150 billion by 2026.

The future of wearables will be driven by three main forces:  simplifying user interactivity and making it more intuitive, increasing the sophistication of sensor data interpretation, and increasing battery life.  Let’s examine each of these forces in a little more detail.

User interactivity is already starting to become quite sophisticated for wearable devices.  Wrist-mounted devices often use gesture detection (such as “tap-to-wake” or “raise-hand-to-view”) to initiate actions on behalf of the user.  In the future, gesture detection is likely to become more context-aware and to take action based on the user context.  For example, a device display might react differently to a particular gesture if the device “knows” that the user is running versus lying down versus riding a bicycle.

Voice-driven command support, which already exists for many devices today through cloud-connected technology, will become more independent and more capable.  Today, in cases in which we speak to our devices, we must do it slowly and carefully and even then our words are often misinterpreted.  In the future, we will be able to speak in a natural voice and give complex directions without having to repeat ourselves or speak unnaturally.

User interactivity is closely tied to the next driving force, which is increasing sophistication of sensor data interpretation.  Already many wearable devices include a constellation of sensor types and these will further proliferate as they become less expensive to integrate.  More sensors will mean more data being collected about the user and their environment which in turn will mean more data interpretation.  Not only will this allow user interactivity to become more sophisticated, but it will also allow the devices to take on a degree of autonomy.  This autonomy will enable new generations of functionality including examples such as exercise and fitness feedback and guidance, automated emergency reporting, and medical condition alerts.

The third driving force will be increased battery life.  Having more user functionality for long periods of time will also enable whole new generations of applications previously unimaginable.  Devices will be able to constantly monitor the conditions of our bodies as well as our immediate and extended environments while simultaneously supporting multi-channel communications with the rest of the world.


These forces will be enabled by new sensor hub platforms at the heart of the wearable technology which deliver greater hardware and software processing power, more capable algorithms exploiting that processing power, and more efficient function partitioning and implementation.  As some of these advanced platforms are shipping now, the future has already begun to unfold and the next few years promise to be amazing.

SEMI and MSIG Join Together in Strategic Association Partnership

MEMS & Sensors Industry Group Brings New MEMS and Sensors Community to SEMI to Increase Combined Member Value

STUTTGART, Germany – September 15, 2016 – SEMI, the global industry association representing more than 2,000 companies in the electronics manufacturing supply chain, today announced that MEMS & Sensors Industry Group (MSIG) will become a SEMI Strategic Association Partner effective January 1, 2017.

Through this strategic partnership, SEMI and MSIG members will benefit from stronger consolidated representation in the MEMS and sensors segments. Members will access SEMI’s global platforms, including its SEMICON expositions and International Standards program, and MSIG’s events, including MEMS & Sensors Executive Congresses, MEMS & Sensors Technical Congress and MSIG Conference Asia. MSIG also brings member-focused initiatives, such as the TSensors™ initiative, as well as industry Standards and community-building to the new partnership.

“SEMI members are increasingly engaged with MEMS and sensors manufacturing,” said Denny McGuirk, president and CEO of SEMI. “The convergence of IC technology, flexible hybrid electronics (FHE), and MEMS and sensors for consumer electronics and IoT applications makes this partnership a clear win for the combined membership. The synergies between our associations will result in increased member value, a unified voice for the MEMS and sensors sector, and a strong platform for global industry collaboration. Ultimately, it will accelerate our joint strategic objectives at a global level and provide greater opportunities to advance the growth and prosperity of members.”

“Our partnership with SEMI reflects our commitment to our members, who have supported us since MSIG’s inception in 2001,” notes Karen Lightman, executive director, MEMS & Sensors Industry Group. “MSIG members will benefit from this relationship with increased access to global resources and service offerings, the expertise of a complementary industry and fast-track entry to worldwide programs. Ultimately, MSIG members will gain broader reach as they pursue new business opportunities. We are delighted to have such a capable and accomplished partner and look forward to our strategic association partnership with SEMI.”

About SEMI

 SEMI® connects more than 2,000 member companies and more than a quarter-million professionals worldwide to advance the science and business of electronics manufacturing. SEMI members are responsible for the innovations in materials, design, equipment, software, and services that enable smarter, faster, more powerful, and more affordable electronic products. Since 1970, SEMI has built connections that have helped its members grow, create new markets, and address common industry challenges together. SEMI maintains offices in Bangalore, Beijing, Berlin, Brussels, Grenoble, Hsinchu, Moscow, San Jose, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, and Washington, D.C. For more information about SEMI, visit and follow SEMI on LinkedIn and Twitter.

About MEMS & Sensors Industry Group

 MEMS & Sensors Industry Group (MSIG) is the trade association advancing MEMS and sensors across global markets. MSIG advocates for near-term commercialization of MEMS/sensors-based products through a wide range of activities, such as conferences, technical working groups and education. By bringing the TSensors(Trillion Sensors) Enterprise under the umbrella of events and programs, MSIG also increases worldwide awareness of emerging MEMS/sensors-based applications with huge commercialization potential in the next decade and beyond. Nearly 200 companies and industry partners comprise MEMS & Sensors Industry Group. For more information, visit: and follow MSIG on LinkedIn and Twitter (use @MEMSGroup).


Association Contacts

Deborah Geiger
Phone: +1 408.943.7988

MEMS & Sensors Industry Group
Ellen Saksen
Phone: +1 412.390.1644


MSIG Asia 2016 Logo

MSIG Asia – The Major Sensor Event in Asia

Registration Open Now

MEMS & Sensors Industry Group logo

The MEMS and Sensors Industry Group has been the major industry association for the entire MEMS and sensor supply chain for the past 16 years. After two hugely successful MSIG events in Shanghai over the past two years, this year we are glad to help co-sponsor the co-location of MSIG Asia with Sensor China, creating the largest and most important industry, technical, executive-level, and conference based event for the sensors industry for all of Asia.

If you are already in the sensor industry (from equipment to sensor products to systems integration to complete vertical applications) and active in or interested in the Asia market, you owe it to yourself to attend this event and hear from the industry’s leadership directly on what IoT means today and what is coming down the pike for the IoT of tomorrow.

To register, visit the link here or contact SITRI for more info. This show, co-located with Sensor China, will be the major sensor event for the year — don’t miss it!

How remote sensing and sensor housing can push cheaper sensors into extreme environments

MSIG is pleased to share content from our valued partner, industry leading market research firm Lux Research.

by Tiffany Huang, Lux Research

There are multiple industries –like mining, oil and gas, transportation, and aerospace– that operate in harsh environments. These environments can include high (or low) temperature, high voltage, high shock and vibration, and even corrosive environments. To operate in these markets, sensors –whether it is for preventive maintenance, safety monitoring or other applications – typically have to be able to operate in these conditions. Companies in these spaces will source these sensors, like high end fiber optic based sensors, which allow for longer operation but come at a hefty price tag – these sensors cost thousands to tens of thousands of dollars per sensor.

Many of the companies looking for sensors in this space are looking at in a binary way; sensors have to be durable or they cannot be used. However, there are two new strategies that are emerging that looks to displace this. The first is looking into ruggedizing weaker sensors – adding a layer of durable packaging to ward off environmental factors– and the second being remote sensing and monitoring.

Improving Packaging:

  • There are companies that are beginning to improve sensor housing and packaging to make it more durable. Companies like Micro-Sensor, Jewell Instruments, and VectorNav, have all innovated in packaging technologies to improve the durability of cheaper sensors (like MEMS) to withstand the harsher conditions and decrease the cost to hundreds or low thousands of dollars. These companies improve housing through adding better steel or aluminum housing, with some companies innovating in welding techniques to improve the hermetic seal on the sensor. However, the improvement in durability may not be enough – for example a Micro-Sensor accelerometer improves the shock and vibration resistance compared to a housing-less MEMS accelerometer, but it operates only up to 80°C and resists a voltage of 30 VDC which is not good enough for conditions that require extreme environments in all conditions. There is still room for innovation in developing sensor packages that can withstand not just one but multiple harsh conditions.

Remote Sensing:

  • Another method is through the use of remote sensors – sensors that are not actually in the harsh environment for long periods of time and can sense them from afar. For example, in the train industry (which suffers from high voltage and physical shock), there is a need to sense the wear of different train conditions –like the wheels or the pantograph (which transmits the power to the train from a wire) – and train operators traditionally relied on internal train sensors to determine these properties or did not have these sensors available. This has changed in recent years as companies like Nordco, Pantoinspect, and even Siemens have all developed a remote monitoring system. Instead of installation on a train, these sensors are installed in the infrastructure (like rails and train tunnels), and can detect defects for preventive maintenance without being susceptible to the harsh environment of the train. This lowers cost, as cheaper sensors can be used, and not every train has to be installed with expensive sensors. Adjacent markets like mining and oil and gas can look for similar types of sensors that may be useful, like getting unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) installed with sensors that can fly overhead (or even inside) harsh conditions for a short period of time to deliver meaningful data.

Tiffany Huang is a Research Associate on the Sensors Intelligence team at Lux Research, which provides strategic advice and on-going intelligence for emerging technologies.