Latest In Depth Technology News

Overcoming visual impairment

In 2015, more than 2million people in the UK were living with some degree of sight loss. It affects people of all ages, but the older we get, the more likely it is that our vision will be impaired. According to statistics from RNIB, one in five people aged 75 and more are living with sight loss and nearly two-thirds of those living with sight loss are women.

Composite amplifiers can improve performance

It is a familiar situation. An application needs an amplifier with excellent output drive capability, say several hundred milliamps, to drive a large capacitive load. The supplier’s engineering team can fairly quickly recommend a suitable part. But then the designers throw in additional requirements, such as low noise and high DC precision. This time, no single device is available to meet that specification. While you might think that placing a precision amplifier and high-output-current amplifier in series would give designers the best of both worlds, sadly, this turns out to be not the case.

CEMs engage in communication technology

The demand for better communications systems has grown exponentially in recent years and wireless communication technology is now truly pervasive, but the pace of the technology’s continual development presents Original Electronics Manufacturers (OEMs) with challenges.

The rise of the hyperscale data centre

The modern data centre is becoming more complex as it attempts to handle the proliferation in mobile devices and billions of newly connected devices, all of which are increasing the pressure on data infrastructure. Customer expectations have never been higher and they will expect a seamless level of service, even as the demand for data increases exponentially.

LabVIEW and CompactDAQ get the Skylon space plane project off the ground

An aircraft that takes off from a runway, travels to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere and delivers its payload, or even travels into space, then heads back to earth and lands on the same runway it took off from. It sounds like science fiction, but Reaction Engines Limited (REL) has laid a solid foundation towards making this a reality. Using National Instruments LabVIEW design software and CompactDAQ, they created a test-bed that is both scalable and flexible in its implementation and allows for the test data to be viewed and logged simultaneously at high speed for further analysis.

Focusing light on industry’s problems

One of the longest established such centres in the UK, the Institute of Photonics at the University of Strathclyde is working in optogenetics and neurophotonics, as well as more traditional areas such as solid state lasers.

The sky is not the limit for the world's largest optical telescope

Dubbed “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”, the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), aims to help scientists find extrasolar planets that are orbiting other stars, answer fundamental questions regarding planet formation and better understand the nature and distribution of dark matter and dark energy. The E-ELT project was undertaken by the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

A move to brushless DC motors

Replacing mechanically driven motors with electrically commutated solutions doesn’t come without specific design considerations. In the automotive sector, the use of electric motors in applications such as power steering, cooling and fluid pumping, offers control, reliability and efficiency advantages over mechanical counterparts and it seems the automotive industry has yet to finish this transition. Market analysts report that more manufacturers are now choosing brushless DC motors (BLDCs) over brushed (internally commutated) electric motors, providing higher levels of control, reliability and efficiency.

Keeping compliant with all relevant EC Directives

A raft of new CE Marking Directives was implemented earlier in 2016. Amongst the nine new pieces of legislation was the third edition of the EMC Directive and new Low Voltage and ATEX Directives. Rather unusually, the changes to eight of the nine Directives were identical and furthermore the ninth contains the same changes as part of a wider overhaul. So why new the Directives and what are the implications for manufacturers?

Optimising wearable designs by integrating support circuitry

Systems on a Chip for wearable devices offer an astounding level of integration. Advanced manufacturing processes give SoC and MCU developers plenty of transistors to work with and these devices can integrate multicore processors, wireless connectivity, memory and graphics controllers.

Connector to combat passive inter modulation on mobile networks

Passive inter modulation – PIM – is ‘unwanted interference’ which tends to occur when two or more interacting signals either interfere with one another or are affected by outside interference. While PIM is not new, the development of Long Term Evolution (LTE), 4G and 5G generation networks means that it has become more important as an issue. These networks have proven to be far more vulnerable to the effects of PIM, as well as to other signalling problems.

LTE for the IoT: Not one standard but many

Analysts are falling over themselves predicting just how big the IoT is going to be – and it will be big. What is less certain is what will be connecting all these devices. Some companies, such as Sigfox and those in the LoRa Alliance, are rolling out dedicated networks in cities around the world. However, these have the drawback that a new network does need to be deployed and that in most cases the coverage is somewhat limited.

Fighting fibre with G.Fast broadband

Offering really high speed fixed broadband to all who need it would seem to mandate rolling out optical fibre to the customers’ premises, according to the industry and a number of operators and equipment manufacturers are trying to show this is true - but only up to a point. They point to a bewildering array of technology and economic options for upgrading broadband networks, with emerging standards and technologies targeting legacy ‘last mile’ copper connections.

Bioelectronics and biosciences could replace the drug industry as we know it

From bioelectronics to biosciences, the pace of change in life sciences is accelerating as companies look to microfluidics, micro- and nanotechnology to develop innovative medical treatments. Earlier this year, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced that it was a forming a bioelectronics firm with Verily Life Sciences, a subsidiary of Alphabet. The new company will research, develop and commercialise bioelectronics medicine, a relatively new scientific field in which miniaturised, implantable devices could treat illnesses ranging from bowel disease to arthritis, hypertension and diabetes.

Back to the future for RISC

The surprise announcement that SoftBank was to buy ARM sent ripples through the electronics industry as companies tried to determine the long-term consequences of the deal. Though there is no immediate threat to users of the ARM architecture, the potential for upheaval has led some companies to consider the risks of changes in their relationship with the processor-IP supplier.

Maximising the potential of fibre optic communications

The Electronic and Electrical Engineering department at University College London (UCL) has been linked almost inextricably with the development of the communications industry. Professor Polina Bayvel, head of UCL’s Optical Networks Group (ONG), pictured below, explained: “It’s a special department; the first electronic and electrical engineering department in any UK university.”

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