While most engineers argue Ethernet TCP/IP is inappropriate for an I/O bus, Gerd Hoppe, President of Beckhoff North America, says his company is going in the opposite direction with its new product RTEthernet—introduced in Europe in November 2002 and just now available here in the U.S. Beckhoff 's software engineers, old hands at tinkering with the Windows operating system, have devised a way to communicate directly with a standard COTS Ethernet controller card using short, 7-microsecond telegrams. One of these tiny telegrams could contain the status of as many as 368 I/O points. Regular TCP messages are held temporarily in a buffer while the telegrams pass through the system. Aptly described as an "onion ring" design, it can encapsulate any fieldbus protocol inside its Ethernet telegrams, giving RTEthernet potential compatibility with dozens of different fieldbus systems.
At this year's MD&M West show, lots of material suppliers are talking about new formulations for wearables and things that stick to the skin, whether it's adhesives, wound dressings, skin patches and other drug delivery devices, or medical electronics.
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