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Finding a board supplier

June 7, 2012 8:31 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

I'm having a little difficulty with my board supplier. Lead times are lengthening which is putting my schedules for some projects in trouble. The market for the PCB service I'm using/looking for is kind of new and obviously things haven't settled out. And what is the service? Small volumes - 1 to 25 pieces.

Less time commuting, less time polluting

June 6, 2012 4:20 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

If you’ve ever commuted, at some point you’ve probably felt like you’re spending more time stuck in traffic than at your desk. A team of students in Germany is trying to shorten your commute, and limit the amount of emissions released into the atmosphere by your car while you’re stuck in traffic. The project, called Greenway, is a GPS with the ability to access a cloud containing real-time traffic information.

When life gives you lemons, make a touchpad

June 4, 2012 10:33 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

The MaKey MaKey, designed by  MIT Media Lab PhD students Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum, is a circuit board that turns everyday objects into touchpads which can interact with your computer.  The idea was to create an easy-to-use inventor’s kit that would let from a creative child to savvy grandma be an inventor. First, pick two objects that you want to use as the touchpad.

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Elimination of handset subsidies would represent tectonic shift

June 1, 2012 4:36 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

Mobile-phone subsidies may go the way of the rotary dial if an audacious plan by Telefonica and Vodafone bears fruit. The telecom giants are using Spain as the testing grounds for an experiment that could irrevocably change the relationship between consumers and mobile-service providers.

The Tinkers Toolbox – Clint Cole and Ken Connor

May 31, 2012 3:11 pm | Podcasts | Comments

In this Tinkers Toolbox we head to campus with Clint Cole, president and founder of Digilent, as well as instructor at Washington State University’s computer engineering department; and Ken Connor, professor of electrical, computer and systems engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).

Is Google Glass too ambitious?

May 31, 2012 3:00 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

Google recently announced a new product called “Project Glass” out of super-secret Google[x] Lab. The idea behind the project is creating light-weight augmented—reality glasses that allow the user to access apps, information, messages, texts and basically anything else available on a smart phone without the bulky interface.

Fat finger syndrome solution found with finite element analysis

May 31, 2012 12:13 pm | Blogs | Comments

Flat touch screens operated by pressure sensors may be taking over pad computers and smart phones, but keypads and keyboards are still widely used in many electronic devices. Desktop computers, laptops, some cell phones, remote controls and appliances, such as washing machines and dryers, all still rely on the touch of a finger on a spring-loaded key. Samsung engineers decided to delve deeper into the fat finger phenomenon by

Seven rookie mistakes made by med dev companies

May 30, 2012 10:41 am | by Paul Brooks, SVP for BSI Healthcare Solutions | Blogs | Comments

For U.S.-based medical device start-ups, speed to global markets is often the most pressing concern, but trying to move too fast often leads to preventable mistakes that could take the CE Marking process back to the drawing board, according to healthcare experts at BSI Group America, a leading Notified Body that helps companies comply with the essential regulatory requirements of the European Union.

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Technology for technology’s sake

May 29, 2012 12:33 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

It has been done a thousand times, in museums, government buildings and schools: ancient, lumbering institutions using technology in an attempt to become cutting-edge—and falling flat in the process. We’re not talking about the smart-grid, which shows great potential for consumers and governments alike, or even smart boards, which take education to a different level.

Micro micros

May 29, 2012 12:16 pm | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

Atmel has some very neat microprocessors in a 6-pin SOT package. Sixteen-bit processors with eight-bit internal buses. About sixty-eight cents in onesies for the high-end version. It operates on 1.8 to 5.5 volts using milliamps to microamps depending. And up to 8MHz clock speed at full crank.

Processing on the edge

May 24, 2012 9:46 am | by Arnon Friedmann, Texas Instruments | Blogs | Comments

One of the interesting things about looking into a new market with an existing product is trying to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of your product as you enter that new arena. If you’ve been following my last few posts you know that I’ve been looking into the high performance computing market and trying to understand the role that our DSPs can play there.

Bearing damage: A lurking problem in electric cars

May 23, 2012 11:51 am | by Matthew Roman, Engineering Manager, Electro Static Technology | Blogs | Comments

Electric cars are news. Every major automaker has introduced some electric vehicle, and the trend seems to be toward greater reliance on electric motors.  The “Holy Grail” is a battery electric vehicle (BEV, a car powered solely by electricity) with an extended driving range, at a reasonable price.

Metastable material: Study shows availability of hydrogen controls chemical structure of graphene oxide

May 22, 2012 4:50 pm | by Georgia Institute of Technology | Articles | Comments

A new study shows that the availability of hydrogen plays a significant role in determining the chemical and structural makeup of graphene oxide, a material that has potential uses in nano-electronics, nano-electromechanical systems, sensing, composites, optics, catalysis and energy storage.  The study also found that after the material is produced,

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The evolution of automotive electronics

May 21, 2012 3:07 pm | by Anthony Le, Winbond Electronics, www.windbond.com | Blogs | Comments

I grew up in the 1970s. Our family car was a Ford Pinto station wagon. Everything in it was manual – manual windows, manual steering. The only consumer electronics was the radio. Fast forward to today, cars have

A look inside The Idea Factory

May 18, 2012 4:44 pm | Articles | Comments

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work in an environment where new ideas are allowed to develop and flow freely — not just as some empty policy or even a company with a “20 percent time” program as made famous by Google — but a real wellspring where ideas and innovation is the raison d'être?

The ZigBee impact

May 16, 2012 3:44 pm | by Janine E. Mooney, Editor | Articles | Comments

Your home and office contain a host of technologies working to improve the way you live. From monitoring energy intake and usage, to controlling your appliances and lighting, ZigBee is a protocol that is changing the way we live – and in some cases, we don’t even realize it.

The future of video inspection system products looks bright

May 8, 2012 4:04 pm | by Jim Norton, President, Custom Products & Services | Blogs | Comments

In recent years, many electronics manufacturers have been adopting the use of video inspection systems. These systems utilize digital cameras to perform many of the visual inspection functions formerly performed with optical microscopes. Digital camera technology has improved to the point where the image quality now rivals that of optical instruments for many applications.

Low power, low-cost testing

May 4, 2012 12:29 pm | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

I'm sure some of you were wondering about the board I described in A Beauty. What is it for? It is an electronic load of sorts for power supply testing. Low power (under a watt) power supply testing. The principle is simple. You apply a pulsing load to the power supply and watch its response.

Higher solar cell efficiencies taking benefits of IC technology experience

May 4, 2012 9:36 am | by Philip Pieters, business development director Energy at imec, www.imec.be | Blogs | Comments

By bringing expertise of the semiconductor industry to the PV industry, we can significantly increase the efficiency of crystalline silicon solar cells. Of course, the semiconductor processes cannot simply be copied into the PV lines. They must be adapted towards higher throughput and lower cost. This is a challenge but also an opportunity for

Picking robotics stocks is complicated; some are a waste of time

May 2, 2012 2:32 pm | by Frank Tobe, Editor and Publisher, The Robot Report, www.therobotreport.com | Blogs | Comments

"Pure play" is an investment term that refers to a company which is exclusively focused on a particular product or service. An investor buys stock in pure play companies in order to obtain a market share in the industry as well as in the company. Robotics, to many, are just a tool to accomplish business tasks in an efficient way.

Enabling simplicity: How sophisticated MCU solutions can help reduce the complexity of consumer electronics designs

April 30, 2012 11:10 am | by Mike Salas, Vice President and General Manager, Microcontroller Products, Silicon Labs | Blogs | Comments

Innovation continues to flourish at the individual product-level as consumer electronics companies continue to find ways to add more appealing features and functions for end users in everything from thermostats and washing machines to wireless headsets and wristwatches. Clearly the push is on to “IP-enable” the entire consumer electronics industry...

Where is my performance?

April 27, 2012 1:49 pm | by Atul Verma, Texas Instruments | Blogs | Comments

Without a doubt, multicore processing is becoming more mainstream these days. Multicore programming or parallel programming is no longer confined to esoteric applications coded by ninja programmers.  Advancements in tools and multicore programming paradigms such as OpenMP have certainly made programming simpler.

Adding a C to the CLA

April 27, 2012 1:42 pm | by Chris Clearman, Motor Control Solutions Manager, Texas Instruments | Blogs | Comments

All motor control designers want to deliver the best possible motor control solution quickly. Part of this depends on the gauged difficulty of design. If you’ve investigated TI microcontrollers for your motor control designs, you may have run across something called a Control Law Accelerator (CLA).

Earth Day at the EcoCAR 2 lab

April 27, 2012 11:38 am | by Tyler Rose, Outreach Coordinator, UW EcoCAR 2 Team and Tom Egel, Consulting Engineer, MathWorks | Blogs | Comments

Earth Day is our favorite holiday around the UW EcoCAR 2 lab. From our standpoint, this time of the year encourages people to celebrate the ways in which they can help reduce vehicle emissions and fuel consumption. We will be showcasing our team's EcoCAR 2 efforts alongside the Puget Sound Clean Cities Coalition at the Earth Day festivities put on by the University of Washington.

Losing the space race ex post facto

April 26, 2012 11:27 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The United States is conceding the space race...43 years after winning it. The Space Shuttle's ignominious retirement closes the door on an engineering marvel and an American institution. And the public didn’t bat an eyelash. How did we get to this point? How did space travel become blasé? When Neil Armstrong took one small step for (a) man, half a billion people tuned in around the world.  

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