While a week in Phoenix, Ariz., sounds like a vacation of sorts, for many industry members, the week from May 17-22 will hardly be a holiday. After all, this is the IEEE’s 2015 International Microwave Symposium (IMS), a densely packed schedule of exhibits and technical sessions in which it is possible to catch up with old friends, maybe avoid old enemies, and absorb lots of technology in a very short time.
Without doubt, the IMS is the single-most anticipated technical event in the RF/microwave industry. It draws thousands of visitors in search of new products on the exhibit floor and new technologies in the seminars, and is a wonderful opportunity for company representatives to meet with visitors. Whether the visitors are customers or potential customers, much can be learned by those on both sides of the booth. Visitors to the IMS exhibition often bring thoughts and requests for companies to modify existing products or to design and fabricate new products. These ideas may be based on their history with a company’s products, or simply wishful thinking based on their needs for a current project or system design.
At an exhibition booth, company reps can learn by listening to these visitors and keeping track of the different requests for product modifications and refinements. Of course, some requests may be coming “from left field” and usually they’re related to price. Certainly, many test-and-measurement company representatives can attest to the times they were asked to design and manufacture something that may simply not be possible, such as that $50 microwave spectrum analyzer. Patience is a virtue when listening to certain visitors’ lists of needs and wants regarding RF/microwave hardware and software. Often, though, buried amongst those wishful-thinking requests are ideas that could transform into next-generation products (and solutions for the person making the requests).
Of course, to benefit from the many visitor interchanges that occur at an IMS exhibition booth, one must keep track of the suggestions and requests and remember the source of a given suggestion. Many times, anyone who is willing to discuss design information on a particular product will expound further if given the opportunity. New product development often starts with a customer’s comments or requests and well-organized IMS exhibitors can turn those comments into new circuit-design approaches, or new ways to perform a test, or some method that will help the company meet that visitor’s expectations.
The IEEE IMS exhibition floor has long been an annual three-day opportunity for industry members to exchange ideas. It’s one of the rare times that an engineer working on, say, a waveguide bend or attenuator can share thoughts with a system-level designer working on a high-power pulsed radar system. This year, more new industries (e.g. medical and automotive) are engaging in IEEE IMS. The show floor is a chance to find what these potential new customers need for their applications. Overall, IEEE IMS presents a wealth of opportunities for all those in attendance.