Just What Does That Mean?
Qualcomm Atheros recently announced a new platform for the home (and, in the future, for business). It’s partly predicated on the fact that we’re consuming lots of bits over the interwebs. But that just merits a faster packet processor, and this is more than that: This is an “internet processor.” Exactly what is an internet processor? I was frankly wondering whether it was the classic marketing case of “define a new category so that you’re the only one in it,” but upon further musing, I don’t think it’s quite that – although a precise definition still eludes me.
I had a hard time sorting through this, partly because, really, I’m not holding up my end of the technology burden here. I’m not a gamer. I don’t have a regular TV. I simply connect to the internet and use a big monitor as my screen.
Pandora Walks Into a Bar...
John was up earlier than usual. The body monitor he wore on his wrist had awakened him during the perfect phase of his sleep cycle and told him that his heart rate and respiration were slightly elevated. It was almost certain - even though he exhibited no symptoms - that he was coming down with the flu. John’s smart phone also gave him the news, telling him additionally that he should not go into the office today in order to avoid infecting others. He was further informed that he had likely been exposed to the flu two days earlier while riding a commuter train - by the ten-year-old boy he sat next to. That boy was now mid-stage flu with a temperature of 102.1 and he was the 1,035th person confirmed with this particular strain. Antiviral medications had been ordered automatically for John, and they would be delivered by courier to his home within a few minutes. John’s wife and children had already been informed of the situation and had donned face masks for the remainder of their time at home this morning.
With predictions of over a trillion sensors deployed worldwide within the next few years, a scenario like this is not hard to imagine. In the near future, it is highly likely that most of us in the civilized world will be monitored by sophisticated arrays of cheap sensors, cameras, and other electronic devices during just about every aspect of our mostly-mundane lives.
Distinguishing You from Your Phone
The Holidays can be a challenging time in the US. Particularly for people that don’t like shopping, this is not a favorite time of year. Count a big portion of the male population in that group of hapless souls that gird up their courage and wade into the miasma that is the local mall.
So here you sit, in your car in the mall parking lot, watching the steady stream of people going in empty-handed, coming out loaded with booty. That’s your competition. If they buy more than you do, you lose. And if you don’t hurry, they’re going to buy the cool stuff – and you lose some more.
Element14's 2013 Community Awards and CES Decompression
With the Consumer Electronics Show drawing to a close, it's time to reflect and decompress. In this week's Fish Fry, we meditate on the electronic engineering wonders and winners of the 2013 element14 Annual Community Awards with Dianne Kibbey of element14. And, if you're still tense after a solid week in the consumer electronics playground, you are certain to enjoy the soothing waters of PADS board design software. This week, we unveil a whole new way to binge on your favorite Chalk Talk webcasts with the launch of an exciting new series that might make you rethink your board design strategy.
Taking Circuits Beyond Flexible
We’re careening down a road towards pervasive electronics. Heck, at this rate, we’re going to end up so far away from our primal roots that we’ll be completely helpless during a power outage. But insinuating those circuits everywhere doesn’t work so well with these clunky printed circuit boards that we’ve relied on for so many years.
No, these things will need to fit everywhere – wearable is obvious, but wearable is just the start. We’ll also be fashioning circuits into shapes that fit the items and the styles we like rather than vice versa. But that means that we need to be able to shape the circuits accordingly. And that means one of two things: either fabs have to be able to build circuits on arbitrarily-shaped 3D surfaces – unlikely – or we’ll need to create flat circuits and then make them fit these shapes after the fact.
Combo Windows + Android Systems Have Lackluster Appeal
This week, people flocking to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) will be treated to their first look at a new kind of PC that dual-boots Windows 8 and Android. Imagine, a machine that runs Windows one minute and Android the next.
Sounds like the worst of both worlds, if you ask me. A triumph of marketing over engineering. The coppery taste of desperation has replaced product innovation.
Nobody’s saying anything official yet, so there’s a bit of speculation baked into all this, but the concept is pretty straightforward. Take a Windows 8 computer (please), and load an x86 port of Android onto it. Let the user toggle back and forth between the two operating systems by tapping the screen, making a swipe gesture, or using the keyboard – whatever. Voila! You’ve got both Windows and Android at your fingertips, with the vast software libraries of both at your command.