Given the mounting complexities and time constraints confronting embedded system designers, it's no wonder innovation in this space can be a daunting task. New and evolving model-based design tools promise engineers a better way to test, verify, and explore system designs before committing to actual prototypes. I wonder, though, how readily these tools are being embraced by this class of developer and what kind of benefits they're able to achieve. Would love to hear some success and war stories. Any one?
For me the biggest question when looking at embedded systems is " do we really need it" There are many many applications for embedded systems but the technology for me is still looking for the killer use, its seems very much a case of technology push as opposed to market pull for the technology still. The medical examples you gave are great and i can really see the benefit, what would be a good move would be for systems developers to tell us all what they can do with the systems, then when we're designing a product we can consider if we can add any benefit.
As an example, car tyres have an embedded system already in them, that being a little rubber block in the tread that tells the observer if the tread depth is down to its legal limit. now if we could incorporate a tread depth signal with a pressure signal and send it to the dashboard it would have safety and environmental benefits. But i have no knowledge of whether you can embedd a device into the tyre that will not cause out of balance and be durable enough to be relied upon etc etc. But if i knew what could be done with these systems i could make a judgement on whether its worth it or not.
I agree new and evolving model-based design tools have been found quite promising in Mechanical CAD world for reducing hardware prototypes. However, their use in Electronics/ Electrical CAD applications has been less widespread. In my company we use embedded systems for REU and PCBs. We have many ways to capture similarities of design via parameters and relations for PCBs (e.g. Mentor graphics expedition tools). However, rapid advances of electronic components and uniqueness of electronic software logics that we employ in each embedded product along with the miniaturizations of evolving hardware technology has made applications of model-based design more challenging in ECAD world.
I believe as we mature more into a consistent and repetitive set of embedded architecture in ECAD world, model based design is likely to pick up its usage.
I agree that application of embedded technology can often be maddeningly and needlessly complex. That said, there are still plenty of innovative new embedded applications. Medical is a perfect example. Several companies are now working on putting electrocardiogram technology in Band-Aid. Ford Motor Co. last month said they've teamed with Medtronic to create a dashboard-based automotive glucsose monitoring system for diabetic drivers. Recently, I talked to a cardiologist who told me that he often gets calls from his patients' implanted defibrillators, telling him when the patients' heartbeats are out of whack. (He even has to call his patients to tell them, "Your defibrillator called me and said your heart is racing.") The number of innovative automotive applications is almost off the charts, there are so many.
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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