A number of trends in electronics have changed the nature of digital signal processors (DSPs). The automotive industry is going through a transformation toward energy efficiency, from hybrids to hydrogen-powered vehicles. Electronics are central to the radical revamp of cars. Power efficiency is becoming important in virtually all products. Smart electronics have become key to that change. New DSPs are designed to deliver greater power efficiency in smaller sizes, which is critical for handheld devices such as smart phones and home-based medical instruments.
The auto industry is using a greater assortment of microcontrollers from engine performance control to entertainment systems inside the passenger compartment. “Automotive systems such as network-management, comfort and security are now ready for the high-performance 32-bit power architecture,” says Comenico Bille, general manager of the Car Body Div. at STMicroelectronics. “By providing application-optimized platforms that enable engineers to maximize investment in software and hardware development, new microcontrollers will accelerate delivery of greater performance to end users.”
Microcontrollers are also critical in the development of small, power-saving devices such as smart phones that have become tiny entertainment devices and handheld medical devices for home use. “In recent years, customers big and small have approached us with a focus on pure performance, but there has been a shift in the last year or so and developers' first question is now, 'This is my power budget — how can you help me do more with it?'” says Gene Frantz, TI's principal fellow. “The answer is somewhat simple — decades of experience allow us to cut power consumption, improve ease-of-use and drive performance within the controller's architecture through better technology, peripheral integration, parallel processing, analog, connectivity and power management software and tools.”
There is currently much discussion around the term "platform," which may be preceded by the adjectives "mobile," "wearable," "medical," "healthcare," etc. However, regardless of the platform being discussed, they usually have one key aspect in common: They tend to be wireless. So, why is this one aspect so fairly universal? The answer is convenience.
Everyone has a MEMS story. For most of us it’s probably the airbag that saved our lives or the life of a loved one. Perhaps it’s the tire pressure sensor that alerted us about deflation before we were stranded alone on a dark muddy road.
Bioimimicry is not merely a helpful design tool -- it also encourages designers to think not only about how to solve design problems by imitating nature, but how to make the products, materials, and systems they design more ecologically sound and nature-friendly.
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