Benedetto Vigna: the inventor behind the Wii console 3D motion sensor

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A lots of inventions, directly or indirectly, deeply change everyday lives of most of the population of the World.

Today MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems), for example, are everywhere: who ever got simply a mobile phone, a game console or a simple washing machine, uses them without even knowing they exist.

The man who brought this technology to main consumer goods, pioneer in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), is the Italian engineer and inventor Benedetto Vigna.

Before to continue, let’s clarify: what the MEMS are?

Basically, they are systems that integrate sensors with microchips: the first capture information, the other process it, making decisions and giving orders to implement the appropriate actions. A typical application of MEMS were airbags.

In 1995, Benedetto Vigna started to work for STMicroelectronics, one of Europe’s leading electronics and semiconductor manufacturers, where he started to work on a great innovation: not only miniaturize the MEMS to a scale never seen before, but create a completely new type, with the third dimension and therefore able to interpret the movements of the real world.

The result was a great invention: a highly successful 3D motion-control-sensor, heart of the Wii console from Japanese company Nintendo.

MEMS were not a novelty, but limited to a niche market; with Benedetto Vigna and ST they were brought to consumer electronics. Motion sensing technology transform the way people interact with electronic devices, and also image stabilizations in cameras, for example, would not be possible.

Vigna made a ground-bracking invention, and for that has been nominated for the European Inventor Award in 2010. He filed over 170 patents on micromachining, with almost 1000 MEMS- related patents families. If you are curious, here you can find one of the most recent example of publication of the patent application’s document: “ASSEMBLY FOR A MEMS ENVIRONMENTAL SENSOR DEVICE HAVING IMPROVED RESISTANCE, AND CORRESPONDING MANUFACTURING PROCESS“.

Nowadays, he continues to work to manufacture sensors even smaller and feature-richer, which could be used on wearable devices.

In conclusion, Benedetto Vigna is a brilliant example of  inventor who inspires us and is capable of improving our lives in incredible ways. You can find below an interesting interview made to the italian inventor by the EPO(European Patent Office), in occasion of his nomination to the European Inventor Award 2010: 



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