Rich, it is interesting that you found the device so, how shall I say it, vanilla. This is becoming the trend in electronics design these days. The sensors typically have evolved to put out usable readings directly (rather than having to be processed by the CPU into a digital form). Rather than custom logic, it is much easier to program a microcontroller to perform the required function. I actually found this to be the case for student projects I have judged as an IEEE member.
The move from the 16-bit to 32-bit microcontroller is interesting. The ARM processor has a feature where it can use 16-bit instructions where that is useful. These can be used interchangably with 32-bit instructions. This aids in fitting code into a limited space. I have recently used the M4 version of this processor and it is very powerful.
The use of Bluetooth is very smart. This allows any Bluetooth device, including a PC or smartphone, to process the information. With the ubiquity of this interface this should make the Zip very usable. The new low power standard is, I think, very important. That it has been worked into the IEEE standards is a good sign.
I'm glad you had fun with your hammer. I once worked at a place where there was a senior engineer who would always take a device apart to see what was inside and how it worked. We would take the labels that said things like "do not disassemble" off and put the device on his desk. Sure enough, we would come back later and it would be all over his desk. Many of these were never reassembled.
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.