How Boom Boxes Are Inspiring a New Age of Engineers
Do you remember your first EE project? Do you remember the delight in your soul when you first saw that LED light up or that plume of blue smoke rise across the room? In this week's Fish Fry, we harken back to the days when we were all budding engineers trying to make our circuits work for the first time. My guest is John Weiss, Director of Bayview BOOM. John is here to to introduce us to Bayview BOOM - a revolutionary program that brings engineering education to the young people of San Francicso's Bayview/Hunters Point neighborhood. Join John and I as we chat about how Bayview BOOM nurtures cognitive growth, physical activity and a love for electronic design in its students - one boom box at a time.
Chromatic Glass Adds Embedded Intelligence to Construction
This week we’re going to talk about programming windows. No, I mean it. Literally, windows. As in, the glass outside your building.
Think I’m nuts? Then you haven’t met the people at View, Incorporated, the Silicon Valley–based company that makes “smart glass.” This isn’t the glass for your smartphone or tablet. It’s window glass, like you’d use for an office building, hospital, or hotel. We’re talking big sheets of glass – as much as 50 square feet. And they’re programmable.
Google Glass, meet Microsoft Windows.
Engineering the Deindustrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was all about scalability. By developing efficient, scalable processes for manufacturing goods, engineers were able to create products for the masses more efficiently. Instead of treating each individual new automobile as a separate artisan project, assembly lines cranked out enormous numbers of identical cars with dramatically less (and less-skilled) manual labor. As a result of this more labor-efficient production, the cost of cars dropped, and automobiles became available to the masses. And so it went, from cars to candy to Converse, the flood of mass-produced commodities flowed across the landscape of civilization, forming rivers and lakes, carving gorges and valleys, and re-forming the very fabric of society.
The key element in the engineering of the industrial revolution was standardization. Epitomized by Henry Ford’s “A customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black,” We collectively took advantage of identical products, interchangeable parts, and rigid standards to reduce the amount of skill and labor required for production. Engineering is the art of compromise, however, and the big compromise in this strategy was customization. Mass production was antithetical to individuality. Human beings devolved into an indiscernible sea of grey as this loss of customization and choice robbed us of our personal preferences in product design.
Ambiq and PsiKick Chart a Challenging Path
We’ve been turning it down for years.
Energy consumption has gradually grown as a concern, to the point where it’s eclipsed performance as a primary driver for many circuits. To reduce power, you can do one of two things: turn down frequency (for dynamic power) or turn down the supply voltage. We’ve already stopped driving clocks as hard as we used to, what with the shift to multicore for scaling performance. But we’re still turning down the voltage.
The first move, where we took logic from 5 V, where it had been for years, to 3.3 V happened… a long time ago. Some components still use 3.3 V, but the leading-edge stuff is all down in the 1-point-something range. And drifting south.
Wireless Connectivity and a Whole Lot of Sensors
Smart, ultra-low power wireless modules are the name of the game in this week’s Fish Fry. We sit down with Nick Kanopoulos (CEO of Econais) to chat about the pain of end product WiFi integration, why the need for low power consumption in IoT devices is becoming a bigger issue these days, and how software can ease our pain in both of these realms. Also this week, we'll unveil some of the cool details of this year’s Sensors Expo and Conference and we'll also let you in on a secret code to get in for free (or cheap, at least).
We Explore PowerByProxi and Cota
Not long ago, we looked at wireless power. And we looked at some of the standards and conflicts underway as companies and technologies vie for best position. And it looked like a simple two-sided issue, with the eventual winner not yet clear.
Well, turns out there’s even more going on, some of it in places we rarely visit. I’ve run across two more wireless power stories, and they’re different from what we’ve seen and from each other. In an attempt to find a unifying theme as I bring them into the discussion, the common denominator seems to be their ability to “aim” their power at a device that needs charging.
Let’s back up, however, and start with a quick review.