Latest In Depth Technology News

Smart materials get even smarter

There are applications where it would be beneficial to have a self-sustaining, fully embedded monitoring system as part of a structure in order to ensure that structure's integrity. Examples include wind turbines, tidal blades, aeroplane wings, ship propellers and hulls. A project set up under the European Framework 7 has been looking at the possibility of developing such monitoring systems.

After 50 years of instrumentation development, is it time for a rethink?

As consumer electronics devices get smarter, their applications are migrating from the personal to the work environment. Using laptops – the same laptop – at home and in the place of work (and all points in between) is a fact of life. But are smart phones and tablets taking this to a level that could change the way in which engineers interact with their working world? Not only will people expect to control their heating, TVs and entertainment, cooking et al with their consumer devices, they will also expect to do this at work as well.

Programmable analogue makes a resurgence

Some of the earliest computers used for controlling processes featured analogue architectures because they were much more responsive than valve based logic circuits. But they needed to be custom designed and succumbed to the more flexible – and ultimately cheaper – digital computer.

'Total Cost of Ownership' methodology becomes more sophisticated

The notion of 'Total Cost of Ownership' (TCO) was a common sense reaction to the increasing flow of electronics manufacturing to the 'low cost geographies'. With low real estate costs and wage rates two orders of magnitude lower than in developed countries, the developing world could offer prices that won many contracts, whether based on end product or price per placement or any other such metric.

Having the right partners is essential for electronics companies looking to be successful in defence

A CV of the UK would list defence as one of its key skills. While some may put this down to an unduly turbulent history, it is probably more accurate to attribute it to innovation and clever application of related technologies. Although it lays claim to almost an eighth of the world's arms trade (see p16), the UK is not known for producing large volumes of standard equipment. It is the high end, high technology equipment that comes from these shores.

The IoT is generating a lot of activity, but what are the implications for operating systems?

There is general agreement that, within the next five years or so, some 20billion devices will be linked together to create the Internet of Things. Each device, no matter where it sits in the network, will need to communicate and that ability will be underpinned by an operating system. But what will that OS look like? Will today's offerings adapt to life 'on the edge' or will a new wave of targeted OSs find more success?

IP advice: Better by design

New Electronics has partnered with leading intellectual property law firm D Young & Co LLP to offer guidance to companies on how to protect their IP. In this issue, Matthew Dick, partner, and Charlotte Musgrave, associate, look at how to protect a product's visual appearance.

Catapults provide UK’s missing link

Although still in its infancy, the Catapult programme is starting to make its presence felt. The Catapults, of which there are seven, have the role, according to Director of Catapults Simon Edmonds, of 'pulling through and commercialising faster, technology that has been developed themselves or in partnership with universities'. "They are in this middle ground between universities and early stage research, and businesses who are doing real product development."

Data is everywhere, but how can it be useful?

Whilst the other Catapults are vertical, the first notable thing about the Connected Digital Economy Catapult is that it is inherently horizontal. CEO Neil Crockett commented: "We have our own sector focus, which is everything from digital creative right the way through to silicon chips. But we also underline all the other Catapults; they are all becoming digital in what they are doing, so I guess we are probably the widest Catapult of them all."

Catapult aims to exploit space data

'To innovate for a better world, empowered by satellites' is the stated aim of the Catapult, but to add more direction to this all encompassing mission statement, chief technical officer Paul Febvre commented: "We need to focus on what satellite data is going to be used for, how is it going to be used in the future, how is it going to be relevant to society."

Smart transport: Why integrating systems is key to improving mobility

Traditionally, transport – and passenger transport in particular – has been provided in a non integrated way. The Transport Systems Catapult has been set up to change this. "We call the market we focus on intelligent mobility," stated Paul Zanelli, chief technical officer, "which is the efficient and cost effective movement of goods and people."

How technology could boost the efficiency of future cities

'Future cities' is not, directly, about shaping British cities to match the needs of the future and to encourage them to flourish, although that was how the Future Cities Catapult came about. Instead, said Scott Cain, the Catapult's executive director for Strategy, Business Development and Communications: "Our brief is help UK firms meet the needs of the world's cities. Like everything else the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) funds, it is aimed at driving business growth."

Catapults: Should there be a tighter focus on technology?

The Catapults were created in response to a report by Dr Hermann Hauser addressing the future for what was the Technology and Innovation Centre network. The idea was to create a new structure that would allow the UK to commercialise its R&D activities more effectively.

Powering mobile devices with ICs is becoming easier

Whilst low power precision components have enabled rapid growth of the mobile device market, those portable products targeted at industrial, medical and military applications typically have much higher standards for reliability, run time and robustness. Much of this burden falls on the power system and its components.

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