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*This Editor's Note will appear in the Jan/Feb Edition of ECN.

The first part of the year is usually the time where everyone hits the reset button. A new year is the perfect time for a fresh start and to evaluate which aspects of your life need improvement. The first resolutions that come to mind are losing weight or maybe saving money and sticking to a budget (especially when those holiday credit card bills start rolling in). However, there is another area of your life that could also benefit from a reevaluation—your gadgets.

I’d venture to guess that most of us (myself included) are all quite reliant on technology, and can’t remember or imagine what life was like before cellphones, tablets, personal digital assistants, etc. How did one get anywhere without GPS? Fortunately, there is never a shortage of new tech designed to make our lives easier. In fact, this is the time of year when we get to see most of what will be coming down the pike. Every January, thousands of companies, reporters and avid consumers flock to Las Vegas, Nevada for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to see the latest and greatest in consumer technology. Some of this year’s highlights include digital assistants, like the Lenovo Smart Display with Google assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and Samsung’s Bixby. The show also served up a bevy of robots, including one that played ping-pong. Automakers also demonstrated their latest concepts centered around autonomous technology and the integration of the previously mentioned digital assistants.

Consumer technology is also at the heart of this issue, with our issue focus on p. 6 “Challenges in True Wireless Audio Systems,” by Horst Gether and Martin Denda from ams AG, that explore methods for improving wireless headsets and earbuds. In order to make True Wireless Headsets a gadget the average person finds indispensable, the authors argue that battery life and communication with chargers are essential factors.

Our tech features, starting on p. 8 hone in on Gallium Nitride and its potential. “What You Need to Know about GaN for Power-Conversion Applications,” by Salil Chellappan from Texas Instruments provides an overview on the considerations one should keep in mind when selecting a GaN device for power conversion. Qorvo’s Gergana Drandova, Anita Pacheco, Celicia Della-Morrow, Eli Reese, and Matthew Poulton authored “Moisture Compliance for GaN- and GaAs-Based Products,” which investigates how well GaN and GaAs devices perform when subjected to harsh environmental conditions. Our final tech feature returns to consumer-oriented technology with “Why Falling Doesn’t Need to Be a Stumbling Block,” which features a scale that measures how likely an elderly person’s fall risk. This issue also offers up predictions from technology leaders and insiders on what 2018 will bring to the worlds of tech and engineering on p. 14.

It certainly seems like 2018 is going to be an interesting year for Consumer Electronics, so now’s the time to search for the next device that will make you wonder how you ever lived without it. Happy hunting!

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