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Power Bank SoCs

I ask a lot of stupid questions because usually they’re not stupid. Occasionally one is.

OK, maybe not outright stupid, but I certainly felt out of the loop. I was talking with Active-Semi about their new power bank management chips. But I tend to run my phones with minimal bells and whistles on. WiFi is typically off; GPS is often off. Bottom line: the charge on my phone can easily last a day, sometimes two.

So I hope I can be forgiven for not knowing in advance what a “power bank” … Read More → "Power Bank SoCs"

A Quality Rant

This year I’ve gone through a couple of electronics upgrades: phone and computer. Actually, the phone was supposed to be an upgrade since I wasn’t happy with the prior one. The laptop? Well, my old one was giving out (why is it always the graphics that go first?). So I needed a replacement – a hardware upgrade, not a software upgrade. A new computer with Windows 7 would have been ideal.

Let’s just say that I’ve been disappointed with both purchases. Actually, “disappointed” only works for the phone. … Read More → "A Quality Rant"

Touchscreen Response

My whimsical piece regarding an airplane touchscreen caught the eye of Touch International. They make touchscreens for airplanes and cars and other high-rel applications; they’ve been doing this for a long time. (I honestly don’t know if they made the screen I was whacking on.)

We met at the Interactive Technology Summit (erstwhile Touch Gesture Motion). It was interesting to contrast our discussion with some of the other things that I was hearing at the show. Touch Int’ … Read More → "Touchscreen Response"

Healthcare from TSensors

I covered the recent TSensors Summit previously, having attended for one of the three days. That day happened to be dedicated to healthcare, and there were a few interesting points worth noting.

First, I have to say, I was surprised at the number of people that said, “We have the best healthcare system anywhere, and I wouldn’t change it a bit,” followed by a litany of problems with our healthcare system. I don’t know if it was … Read More → "Healthcare from TSensors"

MEMS Laser Probing

I saw an announcement about a new MEMS diagnostic instrument, the M150 from Ardic. It uses a laser to measure the frequency response of a MEMS element. Sounds simple enough. Or it did until I started thinking more about it. After all, lasers require line of sight. And most MEMS elements are far out of sight. And if you bring them into sight, then you may have changed the environment (air instead of vacuum or controlled gas, microphone packaging and cavities, etc.) So how does that affect the measurement?

I had an interesting chat with founder and … Read More → "MEMS Laser Probing"

Sensors for the 1%

A frequent topic at events like the Interactive Technology Summit (ITS) is the increasing presence of sensors in phones and other gadgets. But it’s reasonable to ask how many of those sensors will be needed by the majority of people. It’s kind of an 80/20 thing, and the obvious follow-on question is, what to do about the 80% of sensors that 80% of the people don’t need?

One company presenting at the ITS was Variable; they introduced their Node+ sensor platform, which implicitly contains one answer to this partitioning question. They see phones as … Read More → "Sensors for the 1%"

Miniscule IR Subsystem

As part of their recent announcement of FPGAs for sensor management, Lattice also introduced a couple of new devices for their iCE40LP family. From a device standpoint, the key here is the package: a 16-ball chip-scale-package (CSP) measuring 1.4 mm by 1.48 mm, and only 0.45 mm thick.

While this is an extraordinarily small device, and it is a general purpose device (it could even do sensor management for a couple sensors), they have some specific ideas for it. They have teamed the devices up with some IP so that, together, they constitute an infrared subsystem.

This … Read More → "Miniscule IR Subsystem"

And the Handoff Goes To…

When you think semiconductors, who comes to mind? Intel? What about back before Intel’s heyday? IBM? Fairchild? The baton got passed in the 80s, and Intel has managed to hang onto it. But not every company can hold on, and even those that do can’t take it for granted forever.

Friendster was once all the thing. Then, after some thrash, MySpace became the thing. Then it was handed off to Facebook. There are still those waiting to see how long before there’s yet another social media handoff.

With phones, … Read More → "And the Handoff Goes To…"

Marking Up Your Two Cents

We have already looked at some of the touch technology presented at last month’s Interactive Technology Summit. But the same touch and stylus overview presented by Ricoh’s John Barrus addressed another issue: markup.

Much of the touch technology is targeted at large format screens, including interactive whiteboards. But the key to many such devices is interactivity: multiple people in multiple places contributing to the content of the board. Doing that apparently isn’t easy using existing products: he noted that … Read More → "Marking Up Your Two Cents"

Gesture Progress

At the recent Interactive Technology Summit (erstwhile Touch Gesture Motion), gesture was featured more on the day I was checking out the TSensors summit. But I did get a chance to talk both to PointGrab and eyeSight to see what has transpired over the last year.

These two companies both aim at similar spaces, gunning for supremacy in laptops, phones, and other household electronics (HVAC, white goods, etc.). Part of the game … Read More → "Gesture Progress"

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