Subliminal Code

Digimarc and the Case of the Hidden Digital Signal Processing

by Amelia Dalton

“The most profound technologies are the ones that disappear.” - Mark Weiser

If you listen closely you won’t be able to hear it. If you squint your eyes you won’t be able to see it. But it’s there. Most of us have encountered Digimarc’s technology and most likely, we were never the wiser. In this week’s Fish Fry, Tony Rodriguez (CTO - Digimarc) and I discuss the details of Digimarc’s Intuitive Computing Platform: A platform that leverages all of the sensors in your mobile device to tell you more about the world around you. Tony and I also chat about Digimarc’s Discover Mobile Software Development Kit and how the Portland Trail Blazers are utilizing Digimarc’s unique digital signal processing technology.

 

Embedded World Diary

Tools, IoT, and Safety in Nuremberg

by Dick Selwood

In the subterranean hallways of the main railway station in Nuremberg, every ticket machine is surrounded by people wrestling with the fare structure and the unfamiliar currency. The regular morning commuter traffic works it way through the crowds with a resigned air; the hotel owners post room rates that are twice the normal rack rate; the restaurants offer special menus with special mark ups; and the bars are full of people nervously or enthusiastically pouring back Maßkrugs of beer. It's trade fair time again, and, as it is February, it is embedded world, the enormous event where every company with the pretension of serving the embedded market sets out its wares.

 

Making Mobile Video Move

Lattice Bolsters USB Type-C Solutions

by Kevin Morris

Over the past few years our mobile devices have gotten smaller, sleeker, and more efficient. From smartphones to laptops to tablets to a plethora of more specialized devices, the form factors have streamlined and the mobility factors have improved dramatically.

Except for the cables.

It’s gotten to the point that the cables, chargers, plugs and adapters we have to carry around to operate our fantastic the-future-is-already-here gear are bigger and clunkier than the devices themselves. Of course, wireless has been rushing in to take up the slack wherever possible, but there are a few things that aren’t being wireless-ized at quite the same pace as the rest of the technology. We are talking here about the terrible trinity: power, USB, and video.

 

The Greek Philosophy to Programming

Wubby Lets Python Programmers Get Into IoT

by Jim Turley

“The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” – Archimedes

Life could be worse.

Imagine you’re sitting on the beach on a Greek island, looking across the calm blue waters of the Gulf of Corinth at the Greek mainland, barely a mile away. Olive-studded hills behind you. Dolphin-infested waters ahead. Your cell phone beeps. It’s your boss calling. You’re wanted at a meeting that afternoon, so you’ll have to close up your laptop and head back to the office, which is located a few hundred yards inland on a street named – wait for it – Nirvana.

 

The Road from Java

Universal Portable Software Isn’t Doing Anyone Any Favors

by Jim Turley

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Watch any children’s TV show, from Daniel Tiger on your Roku to 30-year-old reruns of Sesame Street on VHS tape, and you’ll hear two messages loud and clear. One: We’re all the same. And two: We’re all different, unique, and special.

Which is it? And how do little kids reconcile these diametrically opposed viewpoints?

 

Writing on the Wall

Interactive Ink and the Future of HMI with MyScript

by Amelia Dalton

Are you ready? We're about to flip the script on digital handwriting as you know it. Handwriting recognition has come a long way from the days of the Apple Newton but until now, it hadn't bridged the gap between the natural input you want and the digital input we use in our everyday lives. In this week's Fish Fry, we take a closer look at a new technology from MyScript called Interactive Ink. Gary Baum (VP - MyScript) joins us to discuss the what, where, and how of this revolutionary new digital handwriting technology and why it's going to change the future of human machine interfaces. Also this week, we check out the many challenges of choosing the right connectors for embedded vision designs.

 

May You Live in Interesting Times

Already 2016 is a Very Interesting Time

by Dick Selwood

I was rather saddened to learn that the ancient Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times" is probably a 1930s invention, because all the signs are that 2016 will be the sort of interesting times that the curse would appreciate.

Each January, Malcolm Penn, of analyst company Future Horizons, reviews the semiconductor industry's performance and makes predictions for the coming year - something he has been doing for a quarter of a century with pretty good accuracy.

An important part of his approach is an assessment of the broader economic climate. What follows is an overview of these issues, based on his presentation, with updates on events that have occurred since. Now you might be thinking, "I am an electronics engineer. What do global socio-economic matters have to do with my technology?"

 

The Nürnberg Trials

Competing Vendors All Announce New Processors in Germany

by Jim Turley

If two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary” – William Wrigley, Jr.

WARNING: This posting may explode without notice. We have temporarily encased ARM, x86, and PowerVR in one container for the time being, but it’s an unstable concoction and could detonate at any moment.

Still here? Splendid. As you’re assuredly aware, there’s big doings in Nürnberg (or Nuremberg, for Anglophones) this week. It’s Embedded World, so the whole world of embedded vendors, developers, and hangers-on are assembled in the medieval Bavarian city. With that many exhibitors, all the rivals are cheek by jowl sharing rented floor space.

 

A Different View of FPGA

Lattice Lays an Alternative Course

by Kevin Morris

For as long as most of us can remember, the FPGA game has been about bigger, faster, louder - more LUTs, more IOs, faster SerDes, more DSP - the list of things the leading vendors have piled onto tiny squares of silicon boggles the mind. The fundamental strategy has been the same: Make the FPGA the center of your system. Replace the ASIC or ASSP with an FPGA, and reap the benefits of programmability and flexibility. Of course, there has always been a “catch.” FPGAs are more expensive, more power-hungry, and slower than their task-optimized ASIC/ASSP brethren. The tradeoff space is clear. If you need programmability and flexibility more than you need that extra oomph in cost, power, and speed, choose an FPGA.

Lattice Semiconductor is charting an alternative course. Rather than expanding the FPGA to take over the entire system, Lattice has worked to design devices that bring the benefits of programmability and flexibility to your system without trying to replace your ASIC or ASSP. They want you to leave that fast, cheap, low-power ASIC or ASSP exactly where it is, thank you very much, and park one of their much more modest FPGAs alongside. The theory is, you end up with the best of both worlds - the task-optimized awesomeness of ASIC/ASSP with the flexibility of FPGA.

 

Shasta Has a High Peak

Soft Machines’ VISC Processor Looks Darn Lofty in Comparison Tests

by Jim Turley

“Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.” – Mark Twain

They say seeing is believing. Speaking as a professional skeptic, I’ll withhold judgement until I’ve seen one of these things in real life. But I gotta tell ya, it’s looking pretty interesting so far.

The thing in question is the VISC processor from Soft Machines. You remember VISC from our earlier coverage in October, 2015; December, 2014; and November, 2014. It’s a high-performance processor that runs ARM binary code, but it’s supposed to be both faster and more power-efficient than ARM itself. Oh, and it’s probably cheaper, too.

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