Saturday, October 06, 2012

#MEMS: "Omron Expands Vertical Integration to Gaming"

Omron told me 20 years ago that it was vertically integrating its MEMS-chip business, so that it could not only make the sensors used for blood pressure monitors, but also all the other subsystems need to make consumer blood-pressure cuffs. I told them they were spreading their expertise too thin, but they proved me wrong by becoming the world leader in blood pressure cuffs. Omron is now expanding that vertical integration philosophy into smart meters--in cooperation with ST Microelectronics--and into consumer gaming all on its own. Gaming will be a tougher sell, since it will be up against established titans--Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft. Ordinarily I would say they were crazy again, as I did when they entered the blood-pressure cuff market, but as I was wrong before, this time I will reserve judgement and just say that Omron will have the advantage of making all the components--including MEMS sensors--inside its gaming consoles: R. Colin Johnson

Here is what ST says about is development efforts with Omron:Omron Corp. (Kyoto, Japan) and STMicroelectronics (Geneva, Switzerland) announced the completion of the development of a MEMS-based gas flow sensor with industry-unique built-in correction for differences in gas composition. OMRON will start sample shipments of the new sensor in November 2012.

As with electricity-consumption measuring, gas metering is moving from conventional mechanical solutions to smart electronic meters with automatic meter-reading functions. There are over 400 million mechanical gas meters in the world and most major gas providers are readying to replace their traditional meters with more accurate and reliable electronic devices.

In addition to higher precision and reliability, the OMRON/ST sensor solution enables the development of smart gas meters that are much smaller, less expensive, and more power-efficient than the conventional equipment, resulting in substantial cost savings for the utility companies and end users alike. Industry analysts expect the global smart gas meter market to exceed 10 million units a year by 2015.[1]

The new gas-flow sensor combines OMRON’s state-of-the-art MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical System) thermal flow transducer with ST’s high-performance analog front-end IC, delivering high-precision gas flow-rate measurement with excellent reproducibility. Gas meters built around the OMRON/ST solution do not need to be configured for a certain type of gas at the time of shipment or installation, as they are intrinsically compensated for both temperature and pressure variations and a built-in circuit compensates for the variation of multiple gas composition. The sensor is dust-resistant to comply with international gas-meter standards.

“The successful collaboration with OMRON in gas metering expands ST’s foothold in the increasingly important field of ‘intelligent measurement’ and sets us to replicate the great success we have achieved in smart electricity metering,” said Marco Cassis, Executive Vice President and President, Japan and Korea Region, STMicroelectronics.

"We are very much excited to introduce a new powerful one-stop solution that enables a simple and very accurate Smart Gas Meter System for global markets through the successful collaboration with STMicroelectronics. By enabling IT-based smart metering, this new technology will significantly contribute to energy saving," said Yoshio Sekiguchi, Senior General Manager of the Micro Devices Division of OMRON Corporation.

Here is what Omron says about entering the gaming market: Omron Electronic Components LLC, the Americas subsidiary of OMRON Corporation (HQ: Kyoto, Japan) has announced Gaming as one of their official vertical market focuses, marking an exciting growth for both the company and the industry. This will be the fifth formal vertical market team for the company, complemented by Medical, Building Automation, Transportation and Test & Measurement. This strategic expansion brings OMRON’s long history, proven quality, and leadership role in the Amusement industry from Japan to the Americas; it also puts in place a local Sales team intensely dedicated to the support and growth of the Americas Gaming industry. In addition, Mr. Nate Takahashi, from Omron’s Amusement Division in Nagoya, Japan, has joined the team as a Field Application Engineer to support Sales and Marketing in the Americas for the next three years; he is based in Pleasanton, California.
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