Electronic Products & Technology

Bandwidth, IoT, 5G drive decade-high attendance at IMS2016

Stephen Law   

Electronics Wireless Engineering microwave

Annual microwave week draws nearly 10,000 attendees creating wireless future

Nearly 10,000 attendees flocked to this years IEEE MTT-S 2016 International Microwave Symposium (IMS), marking a 32% increase in show attendance since 2013 and validating IMS as an essential event for the wireless industry.

The six-day event, held in San Francisco’s Moscone Center this May, drew nearly 3,000 attendees to the technical program and featured a record-breaking 625 companies on the sold-out show floor. IMS, the annual conference and exhibition of the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S), is the premier international meeting for technologists involved in all aspects of microwave theory and practice.

RF designers, researchers, developers and academics

IMS attendees comprised RF designers, researchers, developers and academics representing more than 60 countries including China (4% of attendees), as well as Japan (3%), Korea (3%), and Germany (3%). Of attendees at this year’s show, 42% were first-time attendees, and IMS2016 saw an increase in overall attendance of 15% over IMS2015.


“IMS is the number one trade-show in the microwave and RF industry and is rapidly becoming known as a must-attend event in the broader technology sector,” said Dr. Amarpal Khanna, IMS2016 general chair. “Microwave and RF technologies are the backbone of emerging innovations that will shape the future of technology– everything from virtual reality to autonomous driving. It’s inspiring to see the industry’s greatest innovators come together each year to exchange ideas that turn into tomorrow’s ground-breaking technologies.”

The “connectivity crunch” was a hot topic

The “connectivity crunch” was a hot topic of this year’s show, with standing-room only technical sessions on millimeter waves and other approaches for overcoming bandwidth and spectrum issues. Human-technology interaction was also a major theme; “father of the cell phone” Dr. Martin Cooper set the stage discussing how wireless connectivity has the opportunity to improve the interaction between humans and technology during his plenary session presentation, and University of California, Berkeley Donald O. Pederson Distinguished Professor Jan M. Rabaey spurred discussion on the human and technology interaction as it relates to the future of wearable devices at the closing session.

Technology heavyweights including Facebook, The Boeing Company and Virginia Tech discussed the technological and economic challenges for the future space-based internet during the evening “rump” session. Returning for its second year, the Wireless Wonders Pavilion showcased microwave and RF-based wearable electronics from exhibitors including Automatic Labs, Maja Systems/Rhode & Schwarz, Qualcomm and Zentri. The pavilion also highlighted a cooperative virtual reality experience in which players had to work as a team to complete a virtual mission to Mars.  Additionally, special sessions hosted by the Women in Microwaves, which presented a panel on leadership, and the Young Professionals in microwaves, which held a panel on the future of millimeter waves, reinforced the industry’s commitment to diversity and its future leaders.

NI founder provides concluding keynote

The show wrapped with a keynote from National Instruments’ President, CEO, and Co-Founder Dr. James Truchard around the importance of 5G, in which Dr. Truchard explained how a software-based approach will enable the explosion of wireless connectivity.  The transition to 5G will be a major theme at IMS2017.

“5G is the next horizon for wireless connectivity and the catalyst to make the Internet of Things a universal reality, but the transition still presents a number of challenges for the microwave and RF industry to address,” said Dr. Wayne Shiroma, IMS2017 general chair. “The sharing of knowledge and collaboration that IMS enables are the key to bringing 5G, and technologies beyond it, to life.”

IMS2017 will be held June 4-9, 2017 at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu. Booth selection for 2017 is currently underway, with 80% of exhibit space already sold.




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