I certainly have a hammer or two at home that I need to do a functional check on. I enjoy exercising my hammers all the time. For bigger devices there is a bigger challenge. Remember the goal is to unlock the goodies inside with the least amount of force and strokes of the hammer. We would not want to damage the hammer or the operator...
As for software the reason I went the Computer Science for my Masters is the demand for embedded.
Rich, it is interesting that you found the device so, how shall I say it, vanilla. This is becoming the trend in electronics design these days. The sensors typically have evolved to put out usable readings directly (rather than having to be processed by the CPU into a digital form). Rather than custom logic, it is much easier to program a microcontroller to perform the required function. I actually found this to be the case for student projects I have judged as an IEEE member.
The move from the 16-bit to 32-bit microcontroller is interesting. The ARM processor has a feature where it can use 16-bit instructions where that is useful. These can be used interchangably with 32-bit instructions. This aids in fitting code into a limited space. I have recently used the M4 version of this processor and it is very powerful.
The use of Bluetooth is very smart. This allows any Bluetooth device, including a PC or smartphone, to process the information. With the ubiquity of this interface this should make the Zip very usable. The new low power standard is, I think, very important. That it has been worked into the IEEE standards is a good sign.
I'm glad you had fun with your hammer. I once worked at a place where there was a senior engineer who would always take a device apart to see what was inside and how it worked. We would take the labels that said things like "do not disassemble" off and put the device on his desk. Sure enough, we would come back later and it would be all over his desk. Many of these were never reassembled.
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