Taitronics 2013, the 39th edition of the international electronics show, opened at Taipei along with two other shows – Broadband Taiwan and Taiwan International Cloud Technology and IoT Show. Organised together by TAITRA and TEEMA, these events featured a total of 738 exhibitors hosting 1,415 booths at these three shows. These also include 9 themed pavilions created for the three electronics shows.
Taiwan President Ma (Ying-Jeou), Vice Minister of Ministry of economic affairs Cho (Shih-Chao), Chairman of TEEMA Guo (Tai-Chiang), the president of the Cloud computing association in Taiwan Lee (Tsu-Chin), and Dr. Chih-Kang Wang, chairman of Taiwan external trade development council, jointly inaugurated the event at an invite-only ribbon cutting ceremony on stage. This was followed by a special martial-arts inspired dance routine by a team of performers.
During the inauguration, it was made clear that the electronics industry is the most important industry in Taiwan. Approximately 46.7 per cent of annual export last year was by electronics, at US$140.6 billion. This year, US$70.73 billion has already been exported, showing a 5.29 per cent growth – thus Taiwan already got a running start this year.
5 Industry Trends from Taiwan
A set of important industry changes were shown at the event, which gave an idea of possible emerging trends that we can expect to see in the industry this year.
IC Manufacturing/Wafer Fabrication
This is mainly wafer fabrication, and is a capital and technology intensive industry. With an output value of NT$829.2 billion, TSMC, UMC, VIS, Episil and JJNET dominate IC manufacturing, Winbond and Macronix are two manufacturers of IDM, and Inotera, Powerchip and Rexchip are those in DRAM.
The specifications of wafers currently produced are 4, 5, 6, 8 and 12 inches, but the first 18-inch wafer is expected to go into production by 2016.
Apart from this, fabless firms like Qualcomm, Broadcom and AMD are transfering IC manufacturing to specialised factories, of which TSMC and UMC are the biggest beneficiaries.
Testing Industry for IC packaging
IC packaging is to encase the tiny block of semiconducting material, preventing physical damage and corrosion. IC testing utilises a testing machine to check if the product is defective or not, both before and after packaging.
The business revenue of the biggest 5 vendors takes 70 per cent of the total (NT$ 393.5 billion), and so the surviving space for small enterprises is little and it is expected that only firms with a unique niche will stay in this game in the coming years.
Traditional TFT LCD panels have entered into the mature period. In order to upgrade the added value of the product, 3D function, 4k, 2k, and more precise and high-level panels have been introduced into the market. Another major growth area is the handheld market, which means that there is a great demand for small sized panels.
Printed circuit board industry
The profit range in this industry is impacted by the development in the Chinese market. In order to tackle this change, the Taiwan market has shifted focus on high-end circuit products, such as buried-in passive devices, fine critical dimension and 3D IC substrate to ensure growth.
Some of the bigger changes affecting this industry is the new applications targeting green energy, medical electronics, and high speed and high frequency communication. There are around 170 manufacturers in Taiwan for connectors, of which some have already moved into areas like automotive, green energy, medical electronics, etc.
5 Major leading Tech Trends from Taiwan
Obviously a lot of technology advances continuously occur in the electronics industry, but the biggest changes observed were around IoT devices which require ruggedness, smaller size, cost-effectiveness for the mass market, wireless capability and big data requirements. Therefore, it is not surprising that the biggest trends are all in sync.
Flexible AMOLED application to start a revolution in display design
‘MIT Inside’ forecasts that light, thin, flexible and bendable displays will give rise to unbreakable displays on smartphones starting 2013 itself. It will later give rise to new form factors for mobile devices as well – like foldable tablets and revolutionary wearables. As mentioned earlier in the industry trends, this will be key in improving the value-add to overtake other competing market regions.
Increasing TD-LTE commercialization
Even though the global FDD-LTD operators are progressing, TD-LTE operators are being pushed by China Mobile. As a result, there are already 11 operators with commercial networks, and 40 more operators in the testing phase. China Mobile, Reliance and Clearwire will potentially start offering services in 2013. This will also cause WiMax operators to invest in TD-LTE. This promises a huge potential for telecom companies.
In-Cell touch technology to impact the touch screen industry
Using in-cell touch technology is to grow at a faster rate as the technology gets implemented into even more portable devices. In 2013, 170 million units will be produced, and the growth rate is pegged at 25 per cent for the next four years. This will affect the touch screen industry, as in-cell touch becomes more wide-spread.
Stimulation of demand in establishing large data centers
The growth of the Internet of Things and numerous IoT products available in the market has increased the amount of data available for analytics. The modification in the establishing model of Big Data center has fostered spending in global data center hardware from 2013 to 2017. Numerous hardware firms at Taitronics now have hardware being marketed for big data centers and server farms.
UHD will power LCD TV against OLED TV
Until now, high-resolution TVs running on OLED panels faced issues of high cost and a low defect-free rate as well as a short life cycle. LCD panels with UHD have a better cost advantage compared to OLED at same resolution, thus promoting sales of high resolutions displays which will help the UHD content ecosystem as well — high speed wired networks, connectors, etc.
The New Themes
One interesting bit about this year’s event are the nine different themes that are being showcased at the event, of which the most interesting are ‘Hidden Champions’ and ‘Taiwan Excellence Awards’.
‘Hidden Champions’ is where Taiwanese firms with components running in famous and popular products like those from Apple and Samsung can showcase themselves. The aim of this theme is to show that as long as you have the right design capability, you can take business from your downstream partners.
The ‘Taiwan Excellence Awards’ has had 200 applicants, from which a panel of 7 international judges selects winners.
Some Interesting Products
There were a huge number of firms exhibiting wares at the event, but some firms had special products available for demo. This section covers those which interested me.
Chunghwa Telecom Enterprise Business Group
Using their prowess in wireless communications, Chunghwa Telecom is utilising their advanced broadband and cloud services to enable new technology services focusing on the smart home, smart store, ‘mobile lifestyle’ and cloud enterprise.
Yuan-kuang Tu (Ph.D), President of Chunghwa Telecom showed the various solutions available like an intelligent image-based customer analysis system. This system uses embedded vision functionality to analyse customers and advice the store sales team on which customer is more probable to buy what. It sizes up the customer and provides height, age, gender, viewing distance and specific product interest by analysing body posture of the customer and noting which products were more interesting to the customer.
The embedded vision technology implemented in this system uses both 2D image information and 3D depth information to analyse customers that are viewing digital signage. The system is also able to track multiple customers using a single camera, which tackles the issue of a crowded store overwhelming the cameras. The information gained by using this system will enable store owners to analyse product competitiveness and tweaking promotional designs.
In their ‘mobile lifestyle’ category, they showed a 4-channel fleet management solution. This solution uses an array of cameras and sensors placed inside the fleet vehicles, and tracks data on them. The data is then processed and the gleaned information is used to improve the functioning of the fleet — including vehicle diagnostics based on temperature, RPMs and speed. It integrates GPS, 3G, OBD II, TPMS, vision and cloud technology to implement a variety of features.
The most interesting part, however, is that the company also designed it such that all these 1000s of sensors do not overload the telecom network under which it operates. An executive at the demo area explains that the vehicle only transmits data at certain intervals so as to not overload the network. The system also has on-board unit (OBU) backup solutions in place in the rare case of an emergency, where high quality video is required. Furthermore, the operating voltage of the entire system can be any where between 8V and 36V which allows it to be installed on any kind of automotive. Unsurprisingly, this product also got Chunghwa Telecom the gold medal for technical innovation, from the Taiwan President.
Chroma ATE Inc.
A supplier of precision test and measurement equipment marketed under the brand name Chroma, serve markets including electric vehicles and smart home. Philip Chow, the senior engineer from the marketing department, explained some of their products for design firms targeting the smart grid. They even had one side of the booth dedicated to self-explaining imagery and tools targeting this segment. Examples are a regenerative grid simulator to test smart meters, programmable power sources, and digital power meters to act as a reference meter.
Targeting solar-based designs, their 61800 model has been built to solve some of the problems previously faced by designers — for instance, normally the PV inverter from the solar cell has to completely consume the power which results in the engineer having to add resistance that wastes power, but the new model does not require that.
Chroma also featured a programmable DC electronic load (6301A), for the test and evaluation of multi-output AC/DC power supplies, DC/DC converters, chargers and power electronic components. Specifically designed for applications in R&D, production and incoming inspection, the system is configured by plugging the user selectable load modules into the system mainframe. This system has modules with power ratings varying from 20 watts to 1200 watts and can simulate a wide range of loading applications. The programmable parameters include load level, slew rate, duration, and conducting voltage, all of which can be stored on the on-board EEPROM for up to 100 different sets.
Wayne-Kerr Electronics Corp.
Wayne-Kerr is the second of the three winners of the Gold medal for technical innovation and Allen Miller, senior design engineer from Wayne-Kerr was available at the Technology Innovation Awards Pavillion. The winning product is a 120MHz HF DC bias current unit with an accuracy of (+-) 1 per cent, and also permits the analysis of wound components with levels of DC bias current higher than the standard 100mA for high frequency signals in coils. The serial communication bus on this device controls application of DC current and monitors the status of analyser, including warning signals such as excessive voltage drop and over temperature. Additionally, up to 4 units can be paralleled together.
Eris Technology Corporation
Vincent Chiang from Eris began by explaining that the company is mainly into design, manufacturing, and services for diodes and related products such as Schottky wafers, Zener wafers, and multiple rectifiers and diodes.
Eris also brought in two award-winning components to TAITRONICS this year. Joyce Leong, sales engineer at Eric talked about the ultra thin bridge rectifier for LED lighting, and a Shottky diode whose new production technology allowed it to be physically shrunk by 43 per cent.
The first product, which is an ultra think bridge rectifier, is an EBS rectifier with a thickness of a mere 1.2mm. This makes it 53 per cent smaller than MBS and 21 per cent smaller than ABS. The best part is that even with the radically reduced size and surface area, the component is still able to achieve good thermal dissipation.
The second component, which is the radically shrunk Schottky diode, is claimed by Eris to have improved high current behaviour as well as an improved production process. Built with deep P+ diffusion, there is a resistivity reduction of about 25 per cent for this diode, which makes it consumes less power under forward bias. It comes on a wafer and is ideal to be applied to 3C electronics looking at even smaller sizes.
Center Technology Corp
Athena Chang, Vice Manager of sales at Center Technology Corp. explains that they are a manufacturer of hand-held instruments. The company’s focus is on the international market rather than within Taiwan with 95 per cent of their business coming in from abroad.
One of the hand-held products which they are marketing here is the LCR meter. This portable device could be used by field engineers for measuring inductance, capacitance or even as a typical DMM.
Good Will Instrument Co (GW-Instek)
Liao Yu Ju is the Director for the Marketing and Service Department of Good Will Instrument Co, and they are having a grand time here at TAITRONICS with two of the GWInstek branded products winning the 2013 Technology Innovation Awards.
One winner is a dual-channel arbitrary function generator which they claim to be their first basic level model. The product is targeted at being used in helping testing dual-signal applications such as differential or IQ signalling. The user can also edit the 66 built-in waveforms, or even create a whole new one.
The second product is a programmable high-precision DC power supply with a dual range of 15v/3A or 9V/5A. The winning model, PPH-1503, is specially designed to meet low power consumption requirements along with accuracy, speed and resolution in areas like device inspection, R&D labs, or maintenance centers where a high precision power supply with DVM is required.
Additionally, they have a product targeting the education sector now, which is actually a design reuse of an existing instrument- this kit is called the GRF1300.
Starconn is one of three companies to have won a gold medal in the Technical Innovation Awards. May Chang, deputy manager of the networking department was available at the venue to represent Starconn and Chief Land Electronic Co. Ltd. Their winning product is a high speed connector on back plane, which provides data rates up to 18Gb/s under differential signal. It also features a special shielding design and close signal pairs, which allow it to perform with lower insertion loss and crosstalk. These connectors are targeted at application areas like telecom, router, server, wifi networking and in data centers.
A quick look at the consumer angle
The event also had a special pavilion set up for the sole purpose of promoting innovative consumer electronic products.
One design which attracted the eye of a lot of business people was the hologram device. This device was able to beam media of any sort into a glass cube. As shown in the picture, it allows the viewer to see the same display irrespective of which angle he is looking from, thus providing a 360 view from all around. The representative of the firm, which designed it says that their initial use-case focus was to target executive meeting rooms, where such a device would enhance the presentation experience.
A product targeting shoppers was also showcased, which allowed anyone to try on clothing by simply standing in front of the mirror (actually a display), instead of queuing up in front of the changing room. Embedded vision cameras detected your every move and altered the clothing on you such that you get a real good idea of how it would be if you were to wear it. Changing clothes and accessories is done with a quick swipe of your hand. Your virtual image starts with the clothes that you are wearing in real life, and the virtual clothes are added on top of it — so there’s no scope of any awkward moments for your virtual self.
Also shown was a robotic surgical system that allowed precise surgical movements to be made by the doctor from all sorts of angles. This product was designed with the aim to further enhance minimally invasive surgical methods, by enabling the doctor to observe and utilise a lot more information than was traditionally possible.
There were even more devices shown, from a bed that monitored the biological signals of anyone sleeping on it, to a virtual whiteboard device that turned any thing it focused on into a larger-than-life whiteboard.
Assisting foreign enterprises
Representatives from the government and private sector in charge of smart life industries in ASEAN countries and India, were also invited to participate in the shows and talk to domestic companies at Taitronics 2013. 350 professionals were expected to attend the forum.