If you think light switches and thermostats are not very high tech, think again. EnOcean GmbH is shipping wireless modules that use energy harvesting techniques so no batteries are required. To meet the new thrust to manage lights and temperature using wireless technologies that offer more precise control, modules must be small enough to fit in a light switch and be cost-competitive with battery-powered systems. EnOcean's 1.5-inch square module gathers energy from solar sources while also monitoring minute changes in pressure, temperature, vibration and motion to generate electricity. A Microchip Technology controller manages power gathering and radio communications. A proprietary radio transmitter helps keep power demands low.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
Microchip recently released the 3D TouchPad, the first USB PC Peripheral device that couples 2D multi-touch input with 3D air gesture technology. The company seeks the help of developers to further enhance the capabilities of the technology.
To give engineers a better idea of the range of resins and polymers available as alternatives to other materials, this Technology Roundup presents several articles on engineering plastics that can do the job.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.