How MEMS and Entrepreneurs are Driving IoT









Kurt Petersen, PhD

Silicon Valley Band of Angels





IoT will not be a sudden, revolutionary “event” which abruptly catapults us into the brave new world of smart, interconnected everything.  Instead, IoT will gradually creep up on us.  In fact, IoT is gradually creeping up on us today.  Many new technical advances are required to achieve the full capabilities and advantages of IoT.  Energy harvesting, pico-power circuits and wireless communication, low power sensors, new classes of sensors, new approaches to security, new data storage infrastructure,  new packaging modalities.  MEMS is one of the leading technologies to drive many of these capabilities for IoT, especially in the areas of energy harvesting and sensors.  We will discuss recent new trends and new devices in the MEMS space, as well as potential upcoming areas for MEMS devices which, today, have very little ongoing R&D.  In addition, however, in order to further the proliferation of IoT, we need more than new technologies and new MEMS devices; we need new IoT IDEAS.  This is where entrepreneurs and the new, world-wide entrepreneurial culture is significantly accelerating the development and commercialization of new IoT invention and adoption.  The proliferation of new start-up companies and new IoT inventions is transforming how we think about IoT and what our smart, IoT-connected world will look like over the new decades.  




 Kurt Petersen received his BS degree cum laude in EE from UC Berkeley in 1970.  In 1975, he received a PhD in EE from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Dr. Petersen established a micromachining research group at IBM from 1975 to 1982, during which he wrote the review paper “Silicon as a Mechanical Material,” published in the IEEE Proceedings (May 1982).  This paper is still the most frequently referenced work in the field of micromachining and micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS).


Since 1982, Dr. Petersen has co-founded six successful companies in MEMS technology, Transensory Devices Inc. in 1982, NovaSensor in 1985 (now owned by Amphenol), Cepheid in 1996 (now a public company on NASDAQ: CPHD), SiTime in 2004 (still private), Profusa in 2008 (still private), and Verreon in 2009 (acquired by Qualcomm).  


In 2011, Dr. Petersen joined the Band of Angels in Silicon Valley.  The Band is an angel investment group which mentors and invests in early stage, high-tech, start-up companies.  Today, he spends most of his time helping and mentoring such companies.


Dr. Petersen has published over 100 papers, and has been granted over 35 patents in the field of MEMS.  In 2001 he was awarded the IEEE Simon Ramo Medal for his contributions to MEMS.  Dr. Petersen is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and is a Life Fellow of the IEEE in recognition of his contributions to “the commercialization of MEMS technology”.


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