Page 8

EETE NOV 2015

microphones? “We are looking at every technology but we think that capacitive sensing has a lot of capability ahead of it,” said Abdi. “We’re not limited to inertial sensors and microphones but if you look at something like image sensors it’s too capital intensive. However, imaging for machines could be based on other technologies such as infrared and ultrasonics,” said Abdi adding that such options remain open for the company that wants to “sense everything” according to its logo. Applications and geographies The success of InvenSense has been based on its involvement in smartphones, a market that is starting to plateau. Can InvenSense’s success be replicated in other consumer products and in other sectors? “You need the consumer business to bring scale, to reduce cost structure and stimulate fast innovation. About 85 percent of our business is consumer, mobile, gaming. We’re not walking away from that. But now we can take of lot of those products and apply them to automotive and industrial applications,” said Abdi. And InvenSense’s hardware expertise is not just focused on laying out sensors. The company has developed a series of its own software programmable processors to complement Cortex-M series microcontrollers that it includes in inertial measurement units (IMUs). These include the DMP3 and DMP4. Abdi explained how they fit into a multi-tiered approach to software. “What we’ve designed in-house is optimized for power and low memory footprint but it is not open. On the other hand the Cortex-M0 is off-the-shelf and open, but not optimized. So we have a hybrid approach This means that if a new sensor fusion executive interview algorithm comes along it can be done in software running on the Cortex-M0 for time to market reasons before being migrated to the DMP. Abdi added that hardware that supports neuromorphic computing for pattern recognition and learning behaviour is on his radar but that for now it seems more suited to the large data sets generated by image sensors and machine vision. We asked Abdi about China and its place in the MEMS world. “Right now China is a market rather than a source of competition. In the MEMS area it is similar to how China was in analog and RF 15 years ago. They are doing a great job in that area now. So MEMS will happen for Chinese companies some time but right now we see a lot of opportunities.” We also asked Abdi about the wave of mergers and acquisition going through the industry in 2015 and could MEMS companies be prey to it? “The semiconductor industry is going through a wave of consolidation and much of it is warranted because of a lack of scale, but it is mainly in the SoC world. InvenSense, because it is fabless, is capital-efficient. We do look at acquiring other companies or business lines from time to time; we acquired the microphones business from Analog Devices. We can do that but it is not something we have to do. In the MEMS sector it is more about partnership. And we do have partnerships with multiple microcontroller and processor companies; the likes of Atmel, Qualcomm and MediaTek.” Atmel is set to be acquired by Dialog Semiconductor, which in turn has formed a partnership with leading MEMS company Bosch Sensortec, so it seems that industry consolidation will inevitably impact InvenSense, but nonetheless InvenSense seems to be in good company on its journey towards being an end-to-end sensor solutions company. Philips tests thermoplastically deformable circuits to house LEDs ABy Graham Prophet t the October, 2015, meeting of the International Microelectronics Assembly and Packaging Society (IMAPS 2015), imec and CMST (imec’s associated lab at Ghent University) presented a novel technology for thermoplastically deformable electronics enabling low-cost 2.5D free-form rigid electronic objects. The technology is under evaluation in Philips LED lamp carriers, a downlight luminaire and a omnidirectional lightsource, to demonstrate the potential of this technology in innovative lighting applications. LED technology is becoming the sustainable light source for the 21st century, with energyefficiency, excellent light quality, and high output power. It also allows design of unprecedented, innovative lighting solutions. Imec and CMST’s thermoplastically deformable electronic circuits now add a new dimension to the possibilities to fabricate novel lamp designs as well as smart applications in ambient intelligence and wearables. The technology is based on meander-shaped interconnects, a robust technique to realise dynamically stretchable elastic electronic circuits including LEDs. These are then embedded in thermoplastic polymers (e.g. polycarbonate). Following production on a flat substrate (picture ‘a’), using standard printed circuit board production equipment, the circuit is given its final form (picture ‘b’) using thermoforming techniques such as vacuum forming, high pressure forming or even injection moulding. Upon cooling, the thermoplastic retains its shape without inducing large internal stresses in the circuits. The method, based on standard available production processes, does not require large investments, reducing the cost of fabrication. The resulting designs have a low weight and low complexity, a high resilience, a low tooling and material cost, and a higher degree of manufacturer independence due to the standard industrial practices that are used. The production process was developed in collaboration between the industrial and academic partners involved in the FP7 project TERASEL: imec, CMST (Ghent University), ACB, Holst Centre, Niebling Formtechnologie; Sintex NP and Philips Lighting BV. TERASEL is a European effort focusing on the development, industrial implementation and application of large-area, cost-effective, randomly shaped electronics and sensor circuit technologies. 8 Electronic Engineering Times Europe November 2015 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE NOV 2015
To see the actual publication please follow the link above