When I was a little kid, my (much older) brothers had to have PF Flyers, because according to the commercial on TV, they made you “jump high” and “run fast”. The Playtex Cross-Your Heart Bra boasted that it could “lift and separate”. And angle-necked Reach toothbrushes were the latest advancement in preventing tooth decay.
How times have changed. At last week’s 2014 International Wafer Level Packaging Conference (IWLPC), November 10-13, in San Jose, CA, we learned that Nike has developed a “smart shoe” insert with 8 sensors that can tell you just how high you can jump, and just how fast you can run. Not only does the latest development in “smart bra” technology lift and separate, it auto-opens only when sensors detect the wearer is feeling “true love” to avoid those “unwanted advances.” (On a more serious note, they’ve also invented a smart bra with sensors to detect breast cancer, and a glove that aids in accurate breast self-exams.) And how would you like to start your day brushing your teeth with a toothbrush that tells you whether or not you’ve brushed well enough? Or how about paying for your groceries with a swipe of your hand instead of your credit card? Or being able to scan your food to find out the calorie count? Or your plants and flowers to know when to water them? Or how about being able to self-administer a field sobriety test using a $49 device that plugs into your iPhone?
While some of these examples are on the more frivolous side, there were many more examples of wearable and connected devices designed to enrich and improve our daily lives, and indeed, the lives of everyone on the planet.
Creating a world of Abundance enabled by sensors was the topic of this year’s IWLPC keynote speech delivered by Dr. Janusz Bryzek, Chairman and CEO, TSensors Summit. Bryzek examined various aspects of “the internet of everything” (IoE), of which the “Internet of Things” (IOT) is a subset. He said the IoE and IoT are enabled by the available of IP addresses for every “thing” on earth; fog and swarm connectivity and computing; and sensors. The projected outcome is a society in which we live connected lives through trillions of sensors destined to permeate and enhance our very existence through wearable and environmental devices that monitor everything from our health, to our food, to our environment.
Abundance has been defined as a world without hunger; with medical care, clean water, air and energy for all. Bryzek says that Abundance could be reached in 20 years with the help of 45 trillion sensors, many of which have not yet been developed, if we can accelerate the development cycles that historically last 30 years.
According to, Bryzek, we are in the midst of the 3rd technical revolution, which fuses computing, communication and sensing technologies, and is expected to free people from manual labor, leaving them to do creative work. He talked about previous revolutions, and the historical outcome of each. But it is this 3rd revolution that will enable Abundance, said Bryzek.
Bryzek says he believes the global economic climate is ripe for disruption by what he calls “exponential organizations” (ExOs) – internet and app based companies like Uber, Air BnB, Instagram, Square, and Dropbox – that have demonstrated exponential growth, taking 2 years to become billion-dollar companies instead of the historical 15 years.
He predicts that ExOs will replace 40% of Fortune 500 companies in the next 10 years. 50% of the US’s workforce will be replaced by robots. However, based on Cisco’s “bold” forecast, the IoE will be a $19 trillion market that will create 170M global jobs by 2020. The majority of these jobs will be for knowledge workers, noted Bryzek, and will require major retraining of the workforce.
It is within this already accelerating economic climate that Bryzek believes we can achieve an accelerated sensor development cycle to support abundance and impact the world. This is the foundation of the TSensor Initiative.
The strategy, explained Bryzek, is to collect visions for new ultrahigh volume sensor applications (TApps™) to create development targets that reduce the development cycle. Next is to collect information about emerging sensor technologies and the sensor infrastructure to support these applications. The TSensor Initiative is designed to help the supply chain support TSensors through restructuring academics and R&D programs, increasing the number of start-ups from research organizations, promoting coopetition across the supply chain, securing government and billionaire funding, and launching TSensors incentive competitions.
So how can 3D Integration enable this Trillion Sensor World?
According to Bryzek, vertical integration would help mainly with integrating disparate technologies and accommodating different nodes. Currently, however, through silicon vias (TSVs) target 22nm nodes and below, which is lower than micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) require. MEMs need older technologies, like 180 or 140nm devices, which have not been designed with TSVs, he explained. However, he added that they could be designed as such, or be compatible with TSVs, but it is not being done as of yet. Interposers would also be an option, noted Bryzek, but in that case organic interposers would make more sense than Si interposers because of the flexibility of wearable devices.
By-products of a Sensor-enabled Revolution
According to Bryzek, Abundance is just the beginning of what we can achieve with a trillion sensors. A future where we get to live in a less polluted, more energy-efficient world; where medical diagnostics are less invasive, cheaper, and personalized; where we will have more fun than ever during the longest bull market in history… that’s a world I’m looking forward to. How about we work together to get it done? ~ F.v.T.