Latest In Depth Technology News

Providing health services via wearable devices could, finally, become a reality

Healthcare systems around the world are facing a ‘perfect storm’, contending with rising costs, changing demographics and growing consumer expectations. In a recent report on healthcare in the UK, PA Consulting concluded that a vital component in helping to solve these problems could be the use of ultra-low-power wearable technology. Wearable technology, increasingly enabled by miniaturised ultra-low-power electronics, is said to be used by 8million people in the UK already, with many of those devices being healthcare related.

Low cost of money fuelling ‘M&A frenzy’

So far this year, semiconductor companies have spent around $85billion on acquiring other companies, something which Wally Rhines – Mentor Graphics’ chairman and CEO – notes is ‘dramatically more than in previous years’. And it looks as though the spending is set to continue, with rumours involving Fairchild, Infineon, On Semi, Analog Devices and Maxim Integrated.

Move to 3D flash memory set to boost prospects of SSDs

Developers of memory devices of all types have generally been the first customers for the latest process technology. A combination of the need to make memories with greater capacity at lower prices has pushed manufacturers to the ‘bleeding edge’. That combination of dynamics has also pushed some manufacturers ‘over the edge’ and the remainder into joint ventures that can cope with the commercial and technical challenges.

Wi-Fi and unlicensed LTE groups are finding it hard to coexist as mobile phone technology develops

Although relatively young, the mobile communications sector seems to have an uncanny propensity to generate major controversies. The latest spat manages to pit one technology – Wi-Fi – against cellular; two networks that have avoided treading on each other’s toes for more than two decades. During this time, each camp has seen huge innovation and enormous growth, with many components and infrastructure suppliers relying on them for their own success.

1D to 3D HMI solutions

Just a few years ago Touch revolutionised input: mechanical buttons, keyboards and sliders were replaced by static plastic or metal surfaces. It meant that operator interfaces could be incorporated into a device, and unobtrusive and modern design became increasingly common on the factory floor. Capacitive touch is based on a capacitor whereby the human finger acts as the actuator for the capacitor. Ingenious designs also enable proximity switches to be implemented as well. In this case the control system is only active shortly before it is activated, reducing energy consumption. This is known as ‘1D’ input.

Compliance with global battery standards: does it have to be painful?

From a purely technical point of view, it seems reasonable to suggest that a battery which is safe to use in one country is equally safe in any other country. After all, it is not as if the control circuitry in a battery pack or the chemistry of the cells undergoes any magical change as it crosses a national border.

Minimising costs for wire-to-board connections

Wire-to-board connections incur high costs when handling large quantities in mass markets. However, using the right connection technology this expense can be prevented. It's often worth considering the use of tried-and-tested technologies that enable cables and circuit boards to be connected at little cost.

When it comes to securing the future of authentication finding a solution that is both simple and strong is crucial

The biggest challenge historically in the high-stakes, cat-and-mouse game between hackers and security/authentication solutions is that stronger authentication solutions tend to create troublesome and annoying user experiences. And any solution that’s not stronger than the previous ones is, almost by definition, not up to the task of stopping attacks. Finding a solution that’s both simple and strong has been elusive.

Designing precision guidance systems for agricultural applications

The use of satellite navigation systems has become a familiar part of our daily life. Whether it is in our vehicles to help us find our way to our destination, navigate us around traffic delays or to locate us within an unfamiliar city, GPS-based navigation saves us an immense amount of time and makes the experience a lot less stressful. In most cases the degree of accuracy reported by the GPS is adequate for our purposes. However, as the numbers of potential applications grow so does the need, in some cases, for a lot more accuracy and repeatability in the location information provided. One such example is for agricultural applications, specifically for use in sowing, fertilizing and harvesting crops.

Partnership set to ease the safety critical software verification process

Multicore processors are nothing new to electronics designers and have many features which make them attractive in a range of applications. But those developing software for safety critical systems may not view multicore devices with such fondness. The reason? Proving that the software written for multicore processors meets the requirements of the various standards is a complex and time consuming business.

Know where you stand

The incoming Level VI specification of the International Energy Efficiency Marking Protocol for External Power Supplies raises the bar yet again. OEMs need to understand these key specifications.

Could Industry 4.0 change forever the way in which manufacturers operate?

Industry 4.0 – or the Industrial Internet of Things – is on the verge of radically changing the way in which manufacturers operate. The approach is expected to pave the way towards a future in which smart factories, intelligent machines and networked processes are brought together to encourage greater manufacturing productivity, flexibility and profitability.

Companies should take a more holistic approach to product innovation

A desirable product that answers real needs and is intuitive to use is likely to generate more revenue for your business. That may seem obvious, but many companies continue to be driven by technology, rather than taking a more holistic approach to product innovation. These businesses typically end up adding more clever gadgets, apps or functionality, rather than focusing on the needs of their potential customers.

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