At Pack Expo West in Las Vegas next month, WAGO plans to unveil its latest product offering—a FireWire fieldbus coupler that Senior Support Engineer Mike Metzer says will help automation engineers achieve speed (in the way of high data transmission rates) without sacrificing distance in their designs. "We think this coupler has the potential to make a serious impact on system design because it doesn't force engineers to make the classic trade-off," says Metzer, who will be supporting the product here in the U.S. "Economics could be another selling point." He says that a scanner card for Profibus could run as much as $1,500 to $2,000, compared to a "couple hundred bucks" for FireWire. A fieldbus system developed as a fast communications network for PC and consumer apps, FireWire is beginning to grab a foothold in the industrial automation area. Ormec, for example, joined Aerotech with its recent announcement of a new motion controller with FireWire capabilities—presumably engineers there will be delighted with WAGO's impending announcement. National Instruments has also been dabbling in the technology for its test and instrumentation products. Metzer acknowledges, though, that FireWire is still in its infancy, and it likely will take time for it to gain any significant traction. Though he expects the time frame for the first FireWire applications for WAGO's fieldbus to be as short as six months, he says what FireWire will really need to take off is greater support on the vendor side. For more info on FireWire initiatives, go to www.1394automation.org/.
Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?
In 2003, the world contained just over 500 million Internet-connected devices. By 2010, this figure had risen to 12.5 billion connected objects, almost six devices per individual with access to the Internet. Now, as we move into 2015, the number of connected 'things' is expected to reach 25 billion, ultimately edging toward 50 billion by the end of the decade.
NASA engineer Brian Trease studied abroad in Japan as a high school student and used to fold fast-food wrappers into cranes using origami techniques he learned in library books. Inspired by this, he began to imagine that origami could be applied to building spacecraft components, particularly solar panels that could one day send solar power from space to be used on earth.
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.