In this interview, AZoSensors talks to Roberto DeNuccio and Francesco Italia, Group Managers for the MEMS and Sensors Group at STMicroelectronics about microelectronic technology, the microelectronics industry and the future challenges ahead for this industry.
Can you provide me with an overview of STMicroelectronics?
STMicroelectronics is a global leader in the semiconductor market serving customers across the spectrum of sense and power technologies and multimedia convergence applications. The company have a wide range of customers with varying expertise including the following: energy management and savings; trust and data security; healthcare and wellness; smart consumer devices in the home, car and office, at work and at play. STMicroelectronics products are found where microelectronics makes a positive and innovative contribution to people's life. In 2011, the Company’s net revenues were $9.73 billion. The company operates in a very dynamic, evolving market in a highly competitive environment. Based on this latter context, a primary focus is to deliver improvements of operating results and cash flow.
How have temperature and touch sensors evolved to the present day?
Touch screens have evolved more from single to Multi-Touch and from resistive to capacitive. There is also a tendency to get to thinner screens by using in-cell technologies and to increase the complexity in order to use single chip solutions for larger screens. Temperature sensor market is moving to tighter accuracies, lower power consumption and lower voltages. Thermopile-based solutions are now being seen on the market.
What makes your sensor and MEMS products unique in their corresponding markets?
State of the art performance along with proven billions pcs/yr capacity in place. Moreover, ST offers an innovative roadmap both in terms of miniaturization and integration of multiple sensors in the same package, if needed, with embedded processing and wireless transmission capabilities.
Are there competing technologies and how do these compare?
In terms of motion MEMS today, there are only few suppliers able to provide the complete solution that is 10 Degree Of Freedom, with dedicated sensor fusion algorithm eventually running on embedded general purpose Microprocessor. ST is leading the Market with complete portfolio of scalable discrete or integrated solutions, going towards high volume, smaller, more performing, cost sensitive solutions.
Which market segments will STMicroelectronics (MEMS) be targeting in 2013?
In the consumer field: portable devices including smart phones, tablet, ultrabooks; Gaming; and other consumer electronics for fitness and wellness. Wireless Sensor Networks for the “internet of things”.
How do you see the field of sensor and microelectronics research moving forward to help diversify the applications of such technology?
It’s moving very fast, also leveraging on multiple communities of independent developers creating innovative apps based on sensors. (Not only gaming, but also fitness/Wellness and LBS/navigation.)
What are the current and future challenges for the sensors industry and its products?
Very high volumes and strong miniaturization but not compromising the performances that are a must for the next app generation like LBS/Indoor navigation and OIS.
How does the use of this technology compare between developed and developing countries? Is cost of using such technology a big issue in developing countries?
The level of investment and the experience to manufacture in very high volumes (several tens of billions of pcs/yr with high security of supply) are key differentiators in the MEMS industry.
Will you be partnering with any other companies working on similar temperature and touch sensor products?
Partnerships will be studied on a case by case situation but at this moment of time ST believes it has the necessary requirements to address in a significant way these two markets.
ST is a global leader in the semiconductor market serving customers across the spectrum of sense and power technologies and multimedia convergence applications. From energy management and savings to trust and data security, from healthcare and wellness to smart consumer devices, in the home, car and office, at work and at play, ST is found everywhere microelectronics make a positive and innovative contribution to people's life. By getting more from technology to get more from life, ST stands for life augmented.
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