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Networking the electronics industry

With more than 70,000 people estimated to have come through its doors, electronica has confirmed, yet again, that it is the leading event of its type. With more than 2900 exhibitors, the stands were plentiful and there was plenty of technological ‘eye candy’ to be seen, attracting engineers from around the world.

What stood out, though, was the electronics industry is not seeing any technological jumps; rather, developments are taking place incrementally.

Despite that, the IoT, according to Falk Senger, managing director at Messe München, once again dominated. “This year’s electronica demonstrated how the various aspects of our lives will network with one another in the future and redefine our everyday lives.”

Amongst technologies on display were a broad range of new sensing technologies.

Melexis announced two sensing technologies intended to ease the integration of temperature measurement into applications that enhance safety, efficiency and convenience. One, the MLX90342, is a high-performance quadruple thermocouple interface that provides rapid response and high levels of accuracy when measuring extreme temperatures.

“It has been specifically designed to allow automotive designers to address the need for more stringent engine and exhaust thermal management and control,” said Damien Macq, Melexis’ sensor business unit manager.

Circuit protection specialist Littlefuse introduced its first varistor series. This uses a new silicone coating technology, which means it can operate at ambient temperatures of up to 125°C with 2500V isolation voltage – a significant improvement over the performance of epoxy-coated varistors, which are typically limited to a maximum temperature of 85°C.

Silicon Labs introduced what it claimed to be the industry’s smallest Bluetooth low energy system-in-package module with a built-in chip antenna.

Designed to meet growing demand from IoT designers, the BGM121 (pictured) measures 6.5 x 6.5mm, minimising PCB footprint and making it suitable for applications such as wearables, smartwatches, personal medical devices and other space-constrained connected devices.

Continuing to drive innovation in USB technology, FTDI Chip announced a new series of USB 3.0UVC class bridge ICs. The FT602 devices support the streaming of video content from high definition camera equipment.

“From machine vision to home/building automation, there is a myriad of sectors where enhanced levels of video quality are proving to be highly desirable. Low resolution video is simply no longer good enough, as real-time examination needs to be carried out in much greater detail,” said CEO Fred Dart.

Murata announced the SCA3300 series of high performance three axis MEMS accelerometers, targeted at a range of industrial and automotive applications. The sensor features extensive failsafe functions and flags for diagnostics. Its diagnostic feature runs a self-test continuously, verifying the correct operation of signal chain from MEMS sensor movement to signal conditioning circuitry in each measurement cycle.

Automotive always looms large at electronica and space prohibits a detailed breakdown of the products on display. One that did stand out was from Linear Technology, which took the opportunity to demonstrate the first wireless automotive battery management system (BMS) concept car.

Developed by Linear’s design partner LION Smart, the system combines Linear’s battery stack monitors with LION’s SmartMesh wireless mesh networking products in a BMW i3. This replaces the traditional wired connections between the battery packs and the battery management system.

“This demonstration of a fully wireless BMS car represents a significant breakthrough that offers the potential for improved reliability, lower cost and weight, and reduced wiring complexity for large multicell battery stacks for electric and hybrid vehicles,” suggested Erik Soule, Linear’s VP of signal conditioning products.

Neil Tyler

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