From wireless sensor networks to new plastics to energy harvesting, the array of technologies of interest to the design news community is advancing at a pace we haven't seen in years.
Our friends at EETimes put together their list of the top 20 areas they see as big movers in 2012. We've pared out the EE- and silicon-specific stuff like white-space radios and 4G communications networks to come up with our selection of the cutting-edge spheres to watch. All will offer both challenges and new options in the upcoming 12 months.
Click the image below to view our gallery of the top 12 hot design technologies of 2012:
MEMS is really six or seven sub-domains, many of which have products with high growth numbers.
They include: environmental sensors such as pressure and humidity sensors and silicon microphones; inertial sensors including accelerometers and gyroscopes; inkjets and microfluidics; microactuators including micromirror devices and displays; RF MEMS; micro-opto-electromechanical systems (MOEMS); bioelectronic probes and substrates.
Shown in the picture is MEMSIC's no-moving-parts MEMS accelerometer, which uses a heater to raise the temperature of a central column of air, while thermocouples around the edge indicate acceleration as a change in temperature.
I just bought a new TV. It is internet ready to get netflix etc. I got a home entertainment system to go with it. It is internet enabled as well. I imagine almost anything that may want a software upgrade or other data from over the web could use connectivity.
To get completely silly on the Internet of Things, some dot com wizards envision connectivity that can keep track of expiration dates on food in the fridge and let you know when the milk's about to go bad. Some systems have already been developed that run home heating and cooling as a smartphone app connected to your thermostat. You can remotely turn your cooling and heating on and off remotely -- as in heat the house I'm on my way home. Another app is the Internet-connected surveillance cameras that let parents check on the babysitter via the smartphone.
One early role of the Internet of Things, Beth, is going to happen in retailing and in production inventory. If every product has a low-cost RFID tag, then it can theoretically report back to the Internet on its contents and location. That way, every item on the shelf at the grocery store or apparel shop is a known commodity, and can be inventoried by a computer, so that companies know when and where their products are consumed, and when they need to be re-stocked.
Tracking via RFID tags on consumer products is a potentially iffy proposition, at least if companies expect to track their products in people's homes. This is because some people tear off the tags as soon as they get the product home, due to privacy concerns.
Yes, it would have to be on a voluntary basis. Those who want to use the service would be motivated to make sure the tags stay in place. Privacy -- at least on some level -- is a generational concern. Facebook's Mark Zukerberg claims privacy isn’t important to people his age. He backed off that statement when attacked, but nonetheless, he revealed his view and he very well may be right.
That may change as kids get older and find out prospective employers have learned to examine the Facebook sites of candidates.
The internet of things does not seem to be taking off in the U.S. the way one would think, given its hype. I think in part this is the expense of adding Internet connectivity to small appliances, but more than that, it's a lack of Internet connectivity on the receiving (receptacle) end in legacy U.S. households. I don't know where the economic impetus will come from to fill in this hole. It's doable; you'd kind of need to deploy PoE (Power over Ethernet). But the numbers just don't work the way they did for, say, cable TV.
Taking that one step further, Alex, I don't think a lot of consumers see the need for the Internet of Things. I have wireless access in my house, of course, but I see absolutely no need for my refrigerator to be on it. I've seen the ads for those that can keep track of what you have, make shopping lists and download recipes, but I don't need any of that. And after reading all of the monkey-designed washer articles, I SURE don't want anything else for them to get their hands on.
I agree., I have no interest ijn having RFID tags on everything I own. I took a wireless security class, and one of the things mentioned was some theives were driving around with RFID readers trying to find homes with new televisions. Imagine if they could also hack into your home and shut off all lights before a home invasion? Just because it is possible to do something does not mean we should,
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
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 radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.