Cost reduction is clearly the name of the game in putting in an MCU. IT is true that it can lower cost and increase the number of features, but probably the quality and durability of the product will be "reduced a bit".
Consider one of those applications, the tire gage, now battery powered and digital readout. But is it more accurate? It might be more accurate if it was actually calibrated, but if not, there is probably not much gain. The main challenge is how well will it work after sitting in the glove box for a year. A decent machanical gage will be as good as ever, the battery on the digital gage may be very weak, causing poor accuracy or even total inoperation. The digitalm gage may not have temperature compensation built in, and the cheap pressure sensor is probably very temperature sensitive. So while the readability of a digital gage has been provided, the accuracy of a good mechanical gage is missing. And it probably costs more as well.
From a mechanical engineer's perspective, this is great news. Smaller electronics = smaller enclosures and lighter weight products. We've dabbled with some low-cost wireless MCUs at my workplace. So much capability in a tiny package. Charles, do you know if there is a preferred programming language that the new low-cost components are using (or that the the manufacturer's are steering their customers toward)?
Your opening hook got me, Chuck, specially the part about acne treatments. It's quite impressive the list of applications for microcontrollers. The cost factor has to be one ofthe reasons the range of applications is so wide.
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