MEMS: The Technology to Propel the Unstructured Future of Big Data
We’ve all seen the futurist videos that the web goes ga-ga over. A very busy and neo-refined gentleman effortlessly interfaces with various screens and devices throughout his day. Because of shared data and futuristic digital user experiences, the subject is able to accomplish so many things rather seamlessly, often without even having to actively participate. It’s as if all the data – much of it being born in real-time – is feeding the next digital interaction, assuaging human behavior and decisions, thus creating new data, triggering a new decision and so on. Let’s not forget, many of these “decisions” are actually extremely accurate recommendations based on user habits, preferences, current state of health and other factors. The data is highly personal, highly relevant and highly trusted. We toss around obtuse terms such as Big Data & web 3.0 and marvel at what the hyperconnected future holds for us all. But for many, the learning stops there. Today, we go a bit more granular by talking about the actual chip-sensor technology that will power all of this data creation and sharing. Today, we talk about MEMS.
Getting to Know MEMS – The Basics
Microelectromechanical Systems is long-form for MEMS. But what are they? In a very simple sense they are small chips equipped with one (or multiple) sensors utilized to detect a change and relay that data back into the system to cause some new reaction or adjustment. Realizing that description is hopelessly obtuse, instead pick up your smartphone – which is most likely by your side or in your hand at this moment – and rotate the phone 90 degrees. Of course we know the outcome, the image on your phone screen rotates from landscape to portrait, resizing the content for optimal viewing in the new position.
We take this little stroke of genius for granted, but the technology powering that movement are MEMS. Specifically in the case above, it was your accelerometer detecting motion and triggering the outcome.
Another common MEMS in smartphones and tablets today is your magnetometer, which enables your device to be utilized as a compass and is of course used in mapping applications and more. And do you enjoy how your digital camera now stabilizes any image, delivering a crisp photo? You can thank MEMS for that as well.
These are common and you’ve already consumed this technology. The fascinating aspect of MEMS is what is just around the bend and ultimately where MEMS will shepherd us as individuals and as a society. MEMS are currently outstanding at measuring and making sense of motion. What happens when MEMS get good at measuring something a bit more “touchy-feely”, like emotion?
On Point Read: Can the Future of Innovation Already Be Outdated?
Data Data Everywhere – Why Big Data Needs MEMS
In a recent TopCoder Blog article, we discussed Open Innovation Platforms being the catalyst to create the innovative algorithms that will power the era of Big Data. Algorithms will play a crucial role in filtering the data, matching up what were seemingly disperse data sets to provide pertinent, and therefore valuable information to end users and ultimately, Big Data will be consumed by individuals. This is a titanic shift from the current state of Big Data. Today, select Goliaths in select industries – Healthcare and Financials are two obvious ones – study and utilize Big Data. In the next few years (and possibly sooner) all industries will need to create value through unstructured data. Because their end consumer will be digesting it and basing decisions off of this data, you will see a “gold rush” in the greater technology space, focusing on understanding and utilizing all of this information. When you think about the very front end of this entire process, the creation and collection of this data, you quickly realize that MEMS will play a crucial role in this grand orchestration of all this neo-value creation.
MEMS that are just around the bend include the ability to detect exactly which floor of an office building or mall you happen to be on utilizing barometer devices detecting fluctuations in air pressure. Think about these didactic accuracies next time you’re sipping a beverage at Orange Julius, or better yet how modern armies might experiment with such pinpoint data delivery.
Resource: The site MEMSnet is a purposeful blend of nanotechnology/MEMS news & updates and educational content. Enjoy!
Peering off into the slightly more distant future – the next 5 to 10 years – advances in MEMS sensor technology will emerge as a key catalyst allowing for incredible leaps in personal health and wellness, security, athletics, training & education, retail and beyond. MEMS will begin to measure seemingly intangible fluctuations and that new born data will feed an innovation acceleration the likes we have never seen prior. It’s important to recognize the chips themselves will of course move out of the phones and into the “things”, whether that means a piece of clothing, a personalized & interactive billboard or eventually, into our very bodies.
Often, we look at something such as a TV and we don’t really care how it works. We just care what it can do for us and how we can build on top of the platform that is television. While much of the focus and hoopla has been aimed at understanding Big Data and innovating via advanced algorithms, we thought it would be appropriate to examine the true front end of all this data collection and shine at least a little light on the actual technology responsible for propelling the era of the hyperconnected future. So today, we tip our cap to MEMS and look forward to the advances sensor technology has in store for all of us.
Technology, Open Innovation and Leadership. Subscribe to the TopCoder Blog (top left).
image credit: vimeo.com, fujifilm.ca, chipsetc.com