When you've popped in your fridge alarm, getting peckish in the middle of the night and forgetting to close the door — along with escalating electricity bills — will be a thing of the past. Italian inventor Flavio Dellepiane has designed a 3V battery-powered fridge alarm that beeps if you leave the door open for more than 20 seconds. When the fridge lamp illuminates, the alarm's photo resistor lowers its resistance, the IC starts counting down and, after a preset delay, the piezoelectric buzzer beeps for 20 seconds.
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.