|MEMS gyroscope from the iPhone 4S|
MEMS devices are used inside our cars as well, sensing acceleration and deploying air bags (perhaps deploying a roll bar automatically), or sensing the pressure of our tires, for instance. Tiny mirrors made of MEMS technology are used in optical applications, such as Digital Light Processing (DLP) where arrays of hundreds of thousands of micro mirrors are used. Now, crystals that set a time base for electronics are beginning to be replaced by MEMS resonators. A MEMS 3-axis accelerometer gives Nintendo's Wii information about the motion of the user's hand.
As time goes on, MEMS technology will have to go down to an even smaller scale to accomplish more and more complex tasks mechanically. This will require increasing reliance on nanotechnology. This already occurs as manufacturers work to prevent stiction from affecting the surfaces of their MEMS devices, using a nanotechnology technique called Self-Assembled Monolayers to coat their surfaces.
As devices get smaller, they increasingly become part of our everyday lives. And technology becomes actually useful. MEMS devices are helping us do more with flair. With MEMS devices, an iPhone or an iPad has the ability to sense the physics of the user's control, allowing a simulated airplane to pitch, yaw, and roll.
Check out iSuppli for information about the MEMS markets and competitive analysis. Another excellent source of information about this market is Yolé Developpment from France.