In another demonstration of digital-signal-processing capabilities, Michael Masterman, President of Extreme Endeavors (Philippi, WV) showed how sensors built into firefighters’ protective gear can save lives. The sensors provide information about motion, heart rate, and other vital signs. But to measure these characteristics, the equipment must remain unobtrusive and must require no sensors directly attached to the firefighter. Instead, the protective suit incorporates sensors that pick up vital signs and process them through a Texas Instruments DSP chip. Masterman stressed the challenge of extracting useful information from an ambient environment—inside the suit—where noise can occur only 20 dB below the measures characteristic. First, the DSP technology will take data from the suit and extract the heart rate--using mathematical computation information--from noise 100 times greater than the heart beat itself, said Masterman. Second, the DPS chip provides a software-defined radio so you do not need separate components for a radio; it’s all in the chip. The radio will communicate vital signs to nearby personnel-monitoring equipment.
During a demonstration of the wireless technology, a firefighter performed simulated activities as Texas Instrument Developer Conference participants observed suit and firefighter conditions displayed on a large PC display. According to Masterman, many fatalities occur because firefighters over-exert themselves and have no way to monitor their conditions. The final Extreme Endeavors will include a small display that firefighters can monitor as well as a wireless link that will let supervisors and chiefs monitor the conditions of their fire company’s people.
Lithium-ion battery prices will drop rapidly over the next 10 years, setting the stage for plug-in vehicles to reach 5%-10% of total automotive sales by the mid- to late-2020s, according to a new study.
Two researchers from Cornell University have won a $100,000 grant from NASA to continue work to develop an energy-harvesting robotic eel the space agency aims to use to explore oceans on one of the moons of Jupiter.
Is the factory smarter than it used to be? From recent buzzwords, you’d think we’ve entered a new dimension in industrial plants, where robots run all physical functions wirelessly and humans do little more than program ever more capable robotics. Some of that is actually true, but it’s been true for a while.
A recent Design News-exclusive study proves that engineering professionals are at the very forefront of this push into the future and making direct financial, performance, and value impact on their organizations by being personally involved or final decision-makers on automation solution and component choices.
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