MEMS research has until recently focused mainly on the engineering process, resulting in interesting products and a growing market. To fully realize the promise of MEMS, the next step is to add embedded intelligence. With embedded intelligence, the scalability of manufacturing will enable distributed MEMS systems consisting of thousands or millions of units which can work together to achieve a common goal. However, before such systems can become a reallity, we must come to grips with the challenge of scalability which will require paradigm-shifts both in hardware and software. Furthermore, the need for coordinated actuation, programming, communication and mobility management raises new challenges in both control and programming. The objective of this article is to report the progresses made by taking the example of two research projects and by giving the remaining challenges and the perspectives of distributed intelligent MEMS.