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10 tech to change electronics landscape in 2010

Posted: 23 Nov 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:RFID  lithography  printed electronics  MEMS 

EE Times has listed emerging technologies that one can look forward to in 2010.

R&D investments get pushed to the fore during times of change. Recession is such a time. It is well known that when markets and prosperity return they never return in exactly the same form that they went away.

We have deliberately favoured the hardware- and physically-based side of the technology landscape, although software is also likely to increase its impact and importance in 2010.

There are also some technology trends that are so self-evident and long-term that we have not listed them. We would include amongst these the need to reduce power consumption and the need to pursue low-carbon and reduced materials content solutions. We see these as drivers for some of the more detailed technologies we list below. We don't claim to have a perfectly accurate piezoelectric crystal ball, but some technologies and some technology providers are going to change the landscape in 2010. The ten technologies listed below, in no particular order, might just be part of our changing times.

1. Biofeedback/thought-control of electronics
A number of companies and research institutions have shown how brain waves, captured using sensors on a skull cap or headset, can be used to control computer systems. The applications are medical—giving communications and control of the environment to heavily disabled people—military and, increasingly, in consumer and computer games control interfaces. This may seem like science fiction but the thought-control human-computer interface is here now and is being promoted by companies such as Emotiv Systems Inc.

2. Printed electronics
The possibility of the rapid printing of multiple conductive, insulating and semiconductive layers to form electronic circuits holds out the prospect of much lower cost ICs than those prepared by conventional fabrication methods. Printing semiconductors usually implies the use of organic materials (although see below) with very different performance to silicon. It is also implies much larger minimum geometries than can be attained in silicon. But there are applications that can benefit from modest performance on flexible substrates at low cost; the RFID tag is one and the active-matrix backplane for displays is another.

Kovio Inc., a privately-held pioneer in printed silicon electronics, has been ploughing the printed electronics furrow since the company was founded in 2001, and in July 2009 announced that it had raised $20 million in Series E financing. Kovio said it planned to use the money to commence volume shipments of its Kovio RF barcodes.


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