Sensors, wireless and IoT on the rise at ISSCC

February 13, 2017

rick.merritt-February 13, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — Big processors and fat memories used to dominate the headlines at the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC). Those chips were still present this year, but increasingly, a groundswell of slim sensors, wireless components, and other devices for the Internet of Things are on the rise here.

The event also hosted a session on embedded processors for deep learning (see pages 9 and 10 of this report). It was a fountain of fresh ideas in architecture for squeezing down the high-performance demands of still-evolving neural networks.

At the lowest end, Imec researcher Kris Myny showed an NFC barcode made up from 1,712 transistors on a plastic substrate (bottom of page).

“This was my pet project,” said Myny, who has attended the last nine ISSCC gatherings with increasingly sophisticated examples of his team’s work. “For a long time, I wanted to get data from flexible electronics into silicon in devices like smartphones — this year, we showed it’s really possible.”

Myny showed (above) a prototype electronic game using RFID-embedded cards developed in partnership with game maker Cartamundi, the Milton-Bradley of Belgium. No word on when or whether that demo might turn into a product.

Researchers have plenty of work ahead in plastic electronics. Future wearables will require much denser components to gather and process biological data. They also need some form of non-volatile memory, another huge challenge.

On the business side, Imec seeks display makers such as Taiwan’s AU Optronics, which was a partner in this work, to license and make the flexible devices. So there are plenty of opportunities for Myny to attend future ISSCC events.

Continue to page two on Embedded's sister site, EE Times: "16 views of ISSCC."

 

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