ISSCC Semiconductors for Healthy Living

ISSCC Semiconductors for Healthy Living
by Daniel Nenni on 02-26-2011 at 4:19 pm

Not only do I enjoy San Francisco, I really enjoy the International Solid-State Conference that was held in San Francisco again last week. This was ISSCC #57 I believe. ISSCC attracts a different crowd than other semiconductor conferences, probably because there are no exhibits and no sales and marketing nonsense, just serious semiconductor people. Here are some interesting ISSCC stats:

  • 3k people attended
  • 30 countries represented
  • 669 submissions
  • 211 selected
  • 32% acceptance rate
  • 50/50 industry versus academia

The conference theme for 2011 was Electronics for Healthy Living.. Electronics play a significant role in enabling a healthier lifestyle. Technology in the hospital enables doctors to diagnose and treat illnesses that might have gone undetected just a few years ago. External monitors provide us with a good assessment of our health risk and vital-sign status. Those with chronic diseases can live a more normal life with implanted devices that sense, process, actuate and communicate. Body Area Networks can be connected to a monitoring program running on our mobile phone. Those with disabilities also benefit from electronics that improve their lifestyle.

Wireless communications for healthy living has arrived. My running shoes talk to my heart monitor, my bathroom scale talks to my personal fitness program, my refrigerator talks but it lies so it is password protected. Your smartphone is the gateway and will process this “healthy” data affording us all a more “comfortable” lifestyle.

Of course it goes beyond that. The original heart pacemaker was both a medical and technological breakthrough that has saved millions of lives. Now we have deep brain stimulators, active embedded diagnostics and wearable sensors to prevent emergency health care situations. It’s a government conspiracy really, in an effort to not only reduce medicare costs but to make us healthier and more productive so we can pay off the U.S. National Debt!

Significantly increasing our lifespan and raising the retirement age to 80 is the only hope for the social security system! But I digress…..

At the semiconductor level the technological challenges are daunting: power efficiency, energy harvesting, 3D IC, analog / digital integration, RF, signal integrity, die size, and memory. I attended a few of the sessions and will post trip reports, hopefully other ISSCC attendees will post as well. I also spoke with Dr Jack Sun, TSMC Vice President of R&D and Chief Technology Officer, and Philippe Magarshack, TR&D Group Vice-President and Central CAD & Design Automation GM at STMicroelectronics, and I will write more about that in the trip reports.