Archive for November, 2013


Introducing myself

November 8, 2013

I need to introduce myself as I'm on a panel for a MEMS pitch contest. I have no real idea what I should say. I'm nervous because the other panelists/judges are VCs. Still, let's see if this will work…


I am Elecia White. I've shipped dozens of products and wrote the book on making embedded systems. My role here is to be the voice of industry.

I've used many MEMS sensors but spent more time wishing I had their price and robustness for other products.

When I worked on DNA scanners for HP Labs, I saw a huge need for microfluidics. I wish we could travel back in time a decade or two and share what we've got now.

After that, I worked on race cars, tractors, and airplanes. It is easy to do all that at once when you make an inertial measurement system. I worked with Crossbow to make one of the very first all-MEMS IMUs. The MEMS accelerometers and the gyros gave analong data then.

Moving to consumer applications, I worked on children's toys for Leapfrog. I learned about large scale manufacturing. A $0.50 three axis accelerometer is amazing… but too expensive to use when the bill of materials can only total to $4. I've heard some of you say the margins are too slim but consumer devices don't usually have much to start with.

I've also worked on a large scale distributed sensor network for ShotSpotter, locating gunshots by spreading acoustic sensors around a city and automatically notifying the police when gunfire is head. I learned to distrust the hand-waving so often associated with the internet of things.

I've been an engineer, architect, manager, director, and founder. I prefer technology. So now I'm an engineer and architect for Logical Elegance, a small consulting company specializing in embedded software.

I'm also the host of a podcast about gadgets.

So that is me.

Pitch finalists, there will be a few things I am specifically looking for.

I care very much applications: DNA scanners, race cars, children's toys, gunshot location. Yes, I care about applications. I want to see something that is really useful, that is more than incremental progress.

Second, as an engineer and gadget geek, I want to know how your product is exciting. I want it to be something that I want to work on or something that I want to own.

Finally, I want to see that you recognize the distance from concept to product, that you understand the grindingly difficult task of getting software shipped and a contract manufacturer set up.

I'm looking forward to your presentations.


This was received very well, I ran longer than the others and was a bit more animated and dynamic. Taking potshots at IoT and MEMS people whining about margins actually made me popular. Strangely.