Smart System

Smart System

Smart Systems are defined as intelligent miniaturised technical subsystems with an own and independent functionality evolving from microsystem technology. Smart Systems can sense and diagnose complex situations. They are “predictive”, they have the capability to decide and help to decide as well as to interact with the environment. They may also be energy autonomous and networked. Smart Systems are indispensible for the competitiveness of plenty of products and entire industry sectors. A common technological feature of smart systems is autonomous operation based on closed loop control.


Today’s miniaturised systems already go beyond monolithically integrated or hybrid systems which combine measurement, processing and actuator functions. Systems are becoming more complex, involving other disciplines and principles. Customers are asking for individualised products. New features like ubiquitous information, security, ease-of-use or the integration of mechanical, optical or biological functions in different technologies have to be realized. Severe international competition calls for rapid product change and shorter time to markets. Therefore a broad range of diverse materials and a wide variety of technologies have to be developed and integrated. Smaller and smarter by transdisciplinarity will be the key issue in the future, systems integration the major challenge. The evolution of the critical dimension of technologies into the nanometre scale together with the exploitation of completely new physical phenomena at the atomic and molecular levels, has given new momentum and opened opportunities for new solutions to old and new problems in bioengineering, environment, human-machine interface, etc. Furthermore, the integration of cognitive functions gives rise to a new concept of converging technologies (NanoBioInfoCogno). The ability to miniaturise and integrate intelligence and new functionalities, in their various forms, into conventional and new components and materials is particularly relevant for the implementation of the ambient intelligence vision. The enabling factor is systems integration technologies.


Smart Systems Integration is understood here as the progressive combining of components to merge their functional and technical characteristics into a comprehensive, interoperable system. A miniaturised integrated system addresses different areas as optics, mechanics, electronics, fluidics and thermo-dynamics, making use of various materials - silicon and non-silicon (like polymers). Moreover biological components can be involved. Systems integration may be based on monolithic, hybrid, multi-chip module or other techniques spanning several scales of size. This broader definition better reflects industrial reality and the large potential of miniaturization for the improvement of existing and the creation of completely new products, including for SMEs. Smart systems integration will thereby make a significant impact on the competitiveness of entire sectors as aeronautics, automotives, homeland security, logistics, medical equipment and process engineering.


Smart Systems address a broad variety of societal, environmental and economic challenges. Future applications range from automotive components like closed-loop control of the combustion process to medical devices like the artificial pancreas, or to smart tags, the nodes of the Internet of Things.


European industry leads the world in microsystems technologies and related advanced technologies. Highly complex products ensure Europe’s global competitiveness. Future innovations and market success will depend on intensifying developments and infrastructure investments. New technologies such as nanotechnology will reinforce this trend. Europe demonstrates high competence and competitiveness in the various segments of micro- and nanotechnology (MNT), a diversified and internationally competitive industrial landscape over the whole span of the value chain, and a solid scientific basis. Significant public investments have been made over the last years. Nevertheless, compared with the USA and Japan, the sector remains highly dispersed and fragmented in Europe.


A major challenge is to integrate the multitude of different components, produced in very different technologies and materials. The link between application and technology has to be tightened, both in research and in product development by systems integration methodology and technology, as well as by adaptations to organisational structures. The systems approach calls for integrated design and manufacturing and has to bring together transdisciplinary technological approaches and solutions. A set of compatible technologies and design tools will ease the combination of different modules. In the medium term technologies can be expected that exploit unique nanometer scale phenomena integrated into microscale and macrosystems, providing integrated systems with unprecedented functionality and performance. To achieve this, numerous problems must be solved, e.g. coupling molecular level structures and devices to larger scale platforms and devices, combining "top-down" and "bottom-up" assembly in order to create new classes of functional materials or to manufacture an integrated system, controlling the interface between biological and non-biological components in one architecture, and coupling mechanical forces across nano, micro and macro scales, including the control of fluid-state transport or optical behaviour.


[ The European Technology Platfrom on Smart Systems Integration (EPoSS)]

[ T. Gessner, Smart Systems Integration 2008, VDE Verlag 2008]

[ Smart Systems Integration 2009 - European Conference and Exhibition]

[ Smart Systems for Safety, Sustainablility, and Comfort - International Automotive Forum]

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