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Two Weeks of MEMS and Sensors

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The last couple weeks have involved two events with sensors center-stage. The MEMS Executive Congress is a confab of executives from the MEMS industry (and some non-MEMS companies), put on by the MEMS Industry Group (MIG). It’s been around for years.

TSensors, by contrast, started last year as a push by MEMS luminary Janusz Bryzek to identify and eliminate roadblocks to achieving sensor volumes in the trillions (the “T” in “TSensors” is for “trillion.”) While the MIG event tends to involve a conventional conference pace (hopefully with unconventional new ideas), TSensors involves two days of rapid-fire presentations (18 minutes to present, 2 minutes of questions… the timer is ticking!).

I learned lots of new things at both events, and I’ll be rolling out details over time. But, backing up a level, I wanted to take note of the tone taken in particular by TSensors.

The TSensors theme was “Abundance,” leveraging the popular book by Peter Diamandis. First of all, the tone of the book (which I’ll freely admit I haven’t read myself) is said to be highly optimistic – a refreshing take in a time when things don’t always feel like they’re going well.

But the other thing that I came away with was a renewed sense of engineering doing things that help the world. Frankly, some of the goals – like access by all to health care – might be viewed as problematic in some corners. Be that as it may, it felt good to think about the impact of our work on real people.

It’s not like money left the equation; heck, one of the repeated themes was the need to reduce sensor costs so that we can do these things while still rewarding folks for their innovations; it won’t work otherwise. But the difference was that the money, while necessary and important, wasn’t the be-all end-all goal in and of itself. It’s an enabler, not the final result.

Whether the bean counters strip all the hippie-dippy crap by the time this turns from PowerPoint to a business plan remains to be seen. But it’s good to look around occasionally and notice that we do some good work.

And there’s lots more good work to be done.

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