Here’s a cool project that could help overcome the annoyance and frustration of unreliable wireless signals and connections. Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., has received a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a Smart Antenna and Radio Laboratory charged with investigating more reliable high-bandwidth wireless communications via Wi-Fi. One of the key players in the development project: ANSYS engineering simulation software.
The CAE software will help the university test antenna design performance in a virtual world, reducing the time and costs associated with having to build expensive prototypes and build-and-test methods. With the NSF grant, the Gonzaga lab is investing in dedicated computers that can run the ANSYS software to simulate smart antenna circuits and electromagnetic fields in 3-D structures. Using these engineering simulation processes, the team, headed by Steven D. Schennum, an electric engineering professor, will develop new multi-antenna techniques that improve both the efficiency and bandwidth of wireless communications.
One specific project the Gonzaga team is researching is aimed at overcoming the growing problem of wireless signal interference as many users try to communicate simultaneously over the 2.4GHz band used for Wi-Fi. The smart technologies developed by the team will enable antennas to focus on one user signal at a time, so for example, for a Wi-Fi user working on a laptop with a weak or cross-polarized signal, a smart antenna system would utilize algorithms to optimize the signal to that individual laptop.
Simulation isn’t the method the Gonzaga team is employing for testing its smart antenna designs. The lab is creating a state-of-the-art anechoic chamber for testing physical prototypes, but the chamber is limited in size and shape, in the performance of its absorptive materials and in the range of frequencies that can be accommodated. By simulating electromagnetic fields and currents in a virtual environment using ANSYS, the team can test performance of antenna designs for any location, plane or geometry and over a limitless range of frequencies before moving to the actual physical prototype stage. By employing engineering simulation software, engineers will also be able to run a greater number of what-if scenarios, greatly boosting their ability to innovate and have flexibility in the design process.
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.