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Finding and evaluating new applicationfields for the Squiggle Motor

Sommersemester 2012 

Executive Summary

Initial Situation

The Squiggle Motor is the world’s smallest linear piezo actuator, whichwas developed at New Scale Technologies, Victor, USA. The directproject client was ams, a multinational semiconductor manufacturer,based in Unterpremstätten, Austria. As ams holds a main stake in NewScale Technologies, it seeks to successfully commercialize the SquiggleMotor.The Squiggle Motor itself is currently mainly used in mobile cameratechnology, but its smallness, preciseness and direct linear movementsqualify the motor for further application in more diversified, high marginmarkets.

Project Target

The project’s objective was to find a large number of novel and distantapplication areas and to evaluate their commercial attractiveness. Aftera detailed analysis of the most promising ideas, suitable market entrystrategies were developed.

Procedure and Methodology

The E&I-based 4-phase-framework “Technological Competence Leveraging”served as a guiding structure throughout our project:

1. Identification of the benefits delivered by the technology
2. Systematic search for additional/diverse application areas via a combinationof pyramiding and broadcast methods
3. Analysis of the commercial potential of identified applications
4. Development of a commercialization strategy for the most promisingapplications


As a starting point, 50 ideas of application for the Squiggle Motor wereidentified through brainstorming activities, existing user interviews orthrough crowd sourcing in online communities. In a continuous processof a total of 110 interviews with potential users, the identified applicationareas were assessed based on predefined criteria. Seven ideas,which were rated the highest in the dimensions of benefit relevance andstrategic fit, were positively validated.This structured approach for processing the collected information aboutpotential application areas, served as a basis for decision-making at theproject’s steering board meeting. Three application areas were chosenfor an in-depth analysis, which consisted of three different tools:

• Market analysis
• Porter’s Five Forces
• SWOT analysis

From these analyses, suitable business models with a strong focus onthe value chain and the revenue stream were derived for the chosenthree applications:

Actively Stabilized Handheld Tool
This application serves as a handheld tool for microsurgery, whichoutbalances involuntary motion during surgeries, where high precisionis of prime importance. Therefore the tool is particularly suitablefor ophthalmic surgery, even though further applications are possible(e.g. biological research). The competition analysis, based on Porter’sFive forces, revealed that the technology itself is truly revolutionary andoffers significant advantages compared to conventional technologies.However, a strategic cooperation with a well-established multinationalwith high market share and outstanding expertise sets the indispensablebasis for a successful market entry. The global market for ophthalmicsurgery instruments (market volume: $874M) strongly depends oncataract surgery. Cataract surgeons as a key target group offer a globalsales potential of 120,000 Squiggles p.a. at an estimated CAGR of 4.8%within the next 10 years.

Myoelectric Prosthetics
Myoelectric prosthetics have been increasingly used to enable amputeesa life with as little discomfort as possible. The project group calculatedan overall market potential of 8.4 m. units and annual sales of up to480.000 units in its market analysis. Furthermore, the main insight fromthe Porter‘s Five Forces analysis was that there is a significant amount ofalternative technologies. However, no dominant technology has evolvedyet. Since NST would act as a supplier for manufacturers of MyoelectricProsthetics, collaborations with the big players in this market will becrucial regarding the business model.

Micro modeling
The direct linear motion of the Squiggle can be used to perform additionalfunctions in micro models, especially in the fields of model trainsand model airplanes. The market analysis revealed estimated sales of300,000 Squiggles per year with an overall market volume of around1.29 m. units. As cheap micro motors are currently used to performlinear motion, the Squiggle’s success will largely depend on its competitivenessregarding price and technical adaptability. The highly fragmentedmarket calls for diversified distribution channels, both with modelmanufacturers and retailers. However, a market entry strategy could bepursued in relatively short time.

Cooperation Partner

  • New Scale Technologies, Inc.
    121 Victor Heights Parkway
    Victor, NY 14564
    Tobelbader Strasse 30
    A-8141 Unterpremstaetten

  • Ansprechpartner
    Dr. Michael Leitner
    Marketing Director – ams
    Tel.: +43 664 1424896

Student Team

  • Patricia Backhausen
    Dominik Franke
    Verena Haller
    Teresa Havlicek
    Stefanie Heidinger
    Felix Hlatky
    Hans Kaufmann
    Oliver Lehner
    Alex Mihajlovic
    Michael Neuwirth
    Philip Schnattinger
    Philippe Thiltges