In terms of sensor-circuit integration, many systems in both the United States and Japan are being implemented using hybrid electronics. Trends favor monolithic integration in high-volume applications and in those where reliability and/or size are especially critical factors. It is noteworthy that there was considerable interest in medical applications at many Japanese sites -- much more than is found in the United States, where worries over liability issues and long development/testing cycles cause most companies to avoid the area and are currently causing some established companies to leave it. The markets here are large, and Japan seems to be well positioned to go after them aggressively. Levels of integration in Japan are comparable to those in the United States, although there are probably more places in the United States where integration levels are significant. University facilities are generally limited, so that there is relatively less effort devoted to these issues in academia in Japan as compared with the United States. As noted above, Tohoku University, an exception in this regard, is making solid contributions. Efforts on digital compensation, self testing, and sensor bus standards are still in relatively early stages, but clearly these are areas that will see growing emphasis in the future.
Overall, the United States is certainly competitive with Japan in the sensor-circuit integration area. The worldwide cooperation occurring in sensors and MEMS ensures that development trends are similar and tends to unify approaches as well as the problems being addressed.
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