2019 was a year of growth for Design News on Twitter. All metrics were up including tweets, followers, impressions, and engagements.  Reviewing the highest monthly tweet metrics on a yearly basis provides viable insights for what topics will be hot in the coming year.

In case you’ve forgotten the significance of these social media counters, here’s a quick review:

  • Engagements: This is a measure of the total number of times a user interacted in any way with a tweet. An engagement is recorded when anyone clicks on a link, a photo, a tweet, hashtag – anywhere in the tweet area.
  • Impressions: This value represents the number of times a user views a tweet in their timeline or search results. These users can be followers who viewed a tweet in their feeds or simply twitter users who found the tweet during a search.

The compilations below are the monthly metrics of the Top Tweet – the one with the most impressions, the Top Mention – the tweet by someone else mentioning you that received the most engagements, and the Top Media Tweet – the one that incudes a photo or video. The Top Media Tweet is the media tweet with the most impressions. Media Tweets are typically more effective than text-only Tweets.

December 2019

  • Top Tweet: New @IIHS_autosafety side crash test wallops cars 82 percent harder…
  • Top Mention: Evan Kirstel #CES2020 @evankirstel Old 3G battle shifts to #5G struggle via @DesignNews
  • Top Media Tweet: Does your IoT device pass the UL test? @UL_Standards @ArmEmbedded @NIST @IEEEIoT @BrightsightBV #security #IoT #testing #labs

November 2019

  • Top Tweet:  Aiming for the Tier 1 market, @MicrochipTech has designed a cyber-protection solution that secures the vehicle while adhering to auto specifications and standards. #automotive #cybersecurity #autos…
  • Top Mention: @HazemAlbalushi  @VDM_News @DieterRamsDsgn @designernewsbot @DesignNews Braun will bring Dieter Rams headphones to market again but with new technology.
  • Top Media Tweet: New Free Online Course Nov. 18-22, Designing and Launching an Embedded Product: Join us as we focus on challenges facing teams looking to launch a product and explore best practices needed for success. #DNCEC #embeddedproducts #productdevelopment

October 2019

  • Top Tweet: New Free Online Course October 21-25, Easy TCP/IP for IoT: Join us for a series of lectures that focus on designing and coding IoT devices that communicate using the services of TCP/IP. #DNCEC #IoT #TCP #InternetofThings #IoTDevices
  • Top Mention: Dan Carney @AutowriterDan I’m excited to announce today that, after 23 years as a freelancer, I’ve joined the staff of @DesignNews as a senior editor, covering automotive engineering, technology and design.
  • Top Media Tweet: Nine days till the #Midwest‘s largest Advanced Design & Manufacturing event. Claim your free expo pass here:

September 2019

  • Top Tweet: Go back in time with a day-by-day journey through the #Apollo11 Moon Landing. Download this eBook for incredible photos, expert articles, insights from real Apollo 11 crew members and more! #sponsored Download your FREE eBook now!
  • Top Mention: Mouser Electronics @MouserElec Wearable devices that collect health, diagnostic, & environmental information are becoming more popular for medical, personal, & professional use. Researchers have designed an ultra-thin wearable they compare to wearing a Band-Aid:… via @DesignNews
  • Top Media Tweet: Free Online Course Sept 23-27, NFC-connected Phone as a User Interface? There’s an App For That! Join us for a lecture series presenting design steps necessary for the device and phone side of an NFC-based user app to control a device on the IoT.

August 2019

  • Top Tweet: New Free Online Course August 26-30, Exploring Vision Devices: Join us for a series of lectures that investigate vision devices from the technological viewpoint of embedded vision and machine vision systems. #DNCEC #visiondevices #machinevision
  • Top Mention:  Karolina Kurzac @karolina_kurzac The #Future of IoT Includes Edge Computing, #AI & #Blockchain @ingliguori @IDC @DesignNews #IoT #IIoT #Blockchains #AI #ArtificialIntelligence #EdgeComputing @antgrasso @evankirstel @IIoT_World @vinod1975 @Ronald_vanLoon @FrRonconi @enricomolinari
  • Top Media Tweet: When the original CAD design isn’t accessible, what is the fastest way to quickly produce parts that reference real-world components? Join us August 6th!

July 2019

  • Top Tweet: SAE International President, Paul Mascarenas, will be moderating a #DriveWorldESC panel on setting the standard in transformational technologies. We hope to see you there!
  • Top Mention:  Karolina Kurzac @karolina_kurzac The #Future of IoT Includes Edge Computing, #AI & #Blockchain @ingliguori @IDC @DesignNews #IoT #IIoT #Blockchains #AI #ArtificialIntelligence #EdgeComputing @antgrasso @evankirstel @IIoT_World @vinod1975 @Ronald_vanLoon @FrRonconi @enricomolinari
  • Top Media Tweet: Want to deconstruct an AV? VSI Labs’ Phil Magney has you covered in his session: Decomposition of an Autonomous Vehicle.

June 2019

  • Top Tweet: New Free Online Course July 22-26, Microprocessor-Based Industrial Controllers: Join us for a series of lectures that look at the development of microprocessor-based industrial controllers and the modern architectures currently in use. #DNCEC
  • Top Mention: Kia Motors Global @Kia_Motors The ‪#KiaNiroHybrid and ‪#KiaOptimahybrid are among the most efficient hybrids you can buy via ‪@DesignNews‪… #KiaNow #Niro #Hybrid
  • Top Media Tweet: Catching up with Smalley and ROTOprecision at #ADMexpo Toronto! Stop by their booth and say hi! PS – can’t make it to Toronto? Smalley will be in at our East show next week. Claim your free expo pass here:

May 2019

  • Top Tweet:  New Free Online Course May 20-24, Connectivity Solutions for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT): Join us for a series of lectures that examine the communication components for the IIoT and how they are interconnected and architected. #DNCEC
  • Top Mention: Giuliano [email protected] The #Future of IoT Includes Edge Computing, AI, and Blockchain @IDC via @DesignNews #IoT #Blockchain #edgecomputing #AI #DigitalTransformation @antgrasso @evankirstel @IIoT_World @karolina_kurzac @vinod1975 @Ronald_vanLoon @FrRonconi @enricomolinari
  • Top Media Tweet: New Free Online Course June 10-14, Designing Embedded Systems Using Micro Python: Join us for a lecture series that explores how to use MicroPython to develop products and points out the little “gotchas” that can be stumbling blocks to developers.

April 2019

  • Top Tweet: Experience products — from new materials and intelligent sensors to testing solutions and components — from industry giants serving New England’s medtech, embedded systems, and design engineering industries. Expo pass free for a limited time. #BIOMEDevice
  • Top Mention: [email protected]  Apr 23Great @DesignNews article on the eight #RISC-V companies to watch!
  • Top Media Tweet: Don’t miss out -join your industry peers in New York this June! Claim your free expo pass today (prices go up at onsite).

March 2019

  • Top Tweet: In an assembly line that’s automated, we get to a certain step and cobots are a natural fit, especially If you need more force than a person can provide.
  • Top Mention: [email protected] This morning we’re nostalgia’ing hard over 90’s #VR with @DesignNews’ exploration of SEGA’s unreleased headset for the Genesis. For today’s #WednesdayWisdom, what’s your favorite bit of retro tech?
  • Top Media Tweet: Not Available

February 2019

  • Top Tweet: Uber has autonomous car ambitions. The company is developing technologt for the space. The latest is an open-source version of its Autonomous Visualization System that allows developers and engineers to share standardized autonomous vehicle data.
  • Top Mention: [email protected]  Feb 26Our MPC-LS chipset is “a catalyst to unlock all the #connectedvehicle data that’s going through the car.” NXP’s Brian Carlson talks to @DesignNews about helping automakers enable service-oriented gateways for new revenue streams, safety and more. #EW19…
  • Top Media Tweet: New Free Online Course March 18-22, Prototyping Predictive Analytic Techniques: Join us for a series of lectures that will investigate predictive analytics techniques using embedded platforms, Python, and Orange software. #DNCEC #Analytics #python

January 2019

John Blyler is a Design News senior editor, covering the electronics and advanced manufacturing spaces. With a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering, he has years of hardware-software-network systems experience as an editor and engineer within the advanced manufacturing, IoT and semiconductor industries. John has co-authored books related to system engineering and electronics for IEEE, Wiley, and Elsevier.


In school, systems engineering is taught as a top-down process, but in actual practice it involves bottom-up techniques. In the former, the desired system is broken down or partitioned into smaller subsystem parts in order for requirements, functions and architectures to be decomposed to a point where engineers can begin to build hardware, software, networks, etc.

Conversely, the bottom-up approach begins with the integration of lower level hardware, software, network and other components. These subsystems are tested and built-up until the original desired systems is created.  Almost all of the traditional engineering disciplines (like electronic, mechanical, software and network engineering) follow a subsystem or component bottom-up approach to design and test.

Most engineers and managers in the real world follow a middle-out or inside-out approach. As the name implies, the “middle-out” systems engineering method consists of concurrent bottom-up and top-down systems engineering activities. The bottom-up tasks are built on a detailed knowledge of component parts and subsystems.  The concurrent top-down activities will preserve the customer-focused, requirements-driven emphasis that keeps the system development in a functional domain.

One of the key benefits of the middle-out approach is the traceability afforded by combining the top-level requirements-function-synthesis process with the known requirements and functions from bottom-level implemented system elements. Both executive level and component/subsystem engineers are brought together in this activity to ensure the traceability of requirements. Critical members from both groups will then be involved in the design and integration decisions.

Image Source: Wiley – JB Systems

Several experts and practitioners agree – to varying degrees – that most real world systems engineering projects follow a middle-out approach.

“I agree that many projects “should” take middle-out approaches since so few projects today are creating new systems from complete scratch,” observed Cary Bryczek, Principle Solutions Architect for aerospace and defense for Jama Software. “Things like modernization efforts, developing product variants, and the Internet of Things are all requiring a consideration where the future environment itself is uncertain. But I also still see many projects in safety critical spaces – like defense and automotive – are taking traditional top down systems engineering approaches. I suspect a lot of this is driven by contract vehicles.”

Mark Sampson, product manager at Siemens, agrees that a majority of projects involve changes to existing products. However, he prefers the phrase inside-out over middle-out as the former focuses on understanding the impact of a change (e.g., add, remove, or update).

“Today that development process relies on knowledge, talking with experienced people, etc. rather than models to understand the impacts,” explains Samspon. “Of course it all gets much easier if you’ve designed your product for evolving changes by considering up front what the architecture of the product would be and where the possible areas of change are over time.

Regardless of the name, most systems engineers must meet both top-down, corporate objectives and bottom-up, product requirements. Fortunately, the growth of the Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) paradigm supports a middle-out approach. Models can be used in both the top-down, multiple domain architectural and requirements design as well as the bottom-up simulation and prototyping of preliminary system, subsystems and component evaluation and verification. Together, these models provide a platform that combines high-level system models with specific component and subsystem oriented executable models.

The middle-out approach is familiar to the electronics space. Consider the PCB design tool space where vendors are now being driven both from the top-down and also from the middle-out, notes Paul Dempsey, co-founder of the Tech Design Forum. “For example, Altium community beta members have explicitly reached out to the maker community for many middle-out activates.”

John Blyler is a Design News senior editor, covering the electronics and advanced manufacturing spaces. With a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering, he has years of hardware-software-network systems experience as an editor and engineer within the advanced manufacturing, IoT and semiconductor industries. John has co-authored books related to system engineering and electronics for IEEE, Wiley, and Elsevier

Hexwave can detect guns and other dangerous items on people in real time and at a walking pace. (Image source: Liberty Defense)

On the day of his 16th birthday, Nathaniel Berhow, a student at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Calif., shot and killed two of his classmates and wounded three others. The tragedy mirrored so many others that have been happening all over the US at an alarming rate in recent years. But one particular detail of the .45 caliber handgun Berhow used in the shooting caught the attention of law enforcement and media.

The gun was a “ghost gun,”so-called because it contained no serial number – making it difficult, if not impossible, to be traced by law enforcement. Ghost gun parts can even come from multiple sources further muddying the the chain of custody for law enforcement.

The gun was assembled from a kit of parts purchased online. Sellers of such kits argue that since they are only selling gun component rather than fully assembled firearms, they are legally in the clear.

Ghost guns can even be assembled using 3D-printed parts, printed by a seller or by the buyer in their own home. Files to print gun parts are readily available on the Internet and their legality is the subject of an ongoing legislative debate.

The modular nature of these guns, as well as their plastic components, also means it can be easy to sneak them past metal detectors.

The Saugus High School shooting was only the latest in a series of increasingly high-profile incidents involving ghost guns. But while law enforcement and government agencies are grappling with legislating and tracing ghost guns and 3D-printed guns, other groups and companies are working on the ground level to develop technologies to make these firearms easier to detect.

One such company is Vancouver, British Columbia-based Liberty Defense, a spin-off from MIT’s Lincoln Lab. Liberty Defense has developed a technology it calls Hexwave that combines machine learning and computer vision with an array of radar antennas to detect weapons regardless of their material composition. The goal is to augment existing security systems in airports, malls, stadiums, and other public spaces with a mobile system capable of detecting not only concealed weapons, but bullets, magazines, explosives, and even larger weapon components as well.

3D Printed Gun
A 3D-printed firearm, called “The Liberator,” made nearly entirely of plastic printed parts.

(Image source: Defense Distributed)

Bill Riker, CEO of Liberty Defense, told Design News that Hexwave is aimed at detecting weapons and other articles in dynamic, urban environments – places more chaotic and unpredictable than the queues at airports.

“In the airports and other places, it’s a very rigorous and effective process, but it takes a long time. And you’ve got a very captured audience,” Riker said. “In the urban environment – schools, stadiums, and malls – you’ve got a much less controlled environment, but you have an equally growing need for security.”

Riker said Liberty Defense’s technology allows for both indoor and outdoor detection zones, which is “important because of the need to be able to accommodate a layered defense when you are really trying to buy time for a security operation to proactively prevent a weapon from coming into a facility.” Hexwave can also be deployed covertly via kiosks or other means such as being hidden in walls.

Riker, who has over 35 years of experience working in security systems with Smiths Detention, DRS Technologies, General Dynamics, and the U.S. Department of Defense, likens Hexwave’s sensor technology to an insect’s eye – where a number of eyelets function together as one unit. Here, instead of eyelets, an array of low-frequency radar antennas (200 times lower power than Wi-Fi, according to the company) creates a three-dimensional point cloud of a person – capturing over 400,000 data points, according to Liberty Defense. “Think about it like a child’s coloring book. You’re connecting all the dots, except it’s in three dimensions,” Riker said.

“Part of the great work that MIT did here was to craft a design that can create multiple transmit and receive antennas,” Riker explained. “Typically, an antenna array has its transmitting and receiving off the same dish. This array actually separates them and you’re able to have essentially a multistatic display configured into a monostatic display.”

That point cloud is then converted into an image that a deep learning neural network analyzes to look for weapons and suspicious objects – all done in real time.

“We teach [the AI] a whole different series of weapons and as new weapons occur, we teach it and then we send that out by Wi-Fi into all the different systems to update them on a regular basis,” Riker said. “What’s important here is you don’t have to go from the cloud to a lookup table. All the analysis is done on the unit, therefore it’s super fast.”

Rather than distinguishing specific models or types of guns, what Hexwave looks for is identifiable shapes. “At this point, it’s general, but we can tell the difference between a plastic handgun and a metal metal handgun,” Riker said. “You can see if it’s a revolver or if it’s a semiautomatic pistol. You can also see explosives, including pyrotechnics. In that case you can actually you see the accelerates within the container.”

He continued. “There are all kinds of high-strength polymers that you can build 3D-printed guns out of. We can see that because it’s got a physical form to it, meaning, regardless of the material, there’s going to be some degree of reflectivity there. And so when you’re emitting energy against it that’s going to have a return that gives you that three-dimensional look.”

Once the AI has made its analysis, it can notify a human guard using a tablet. Riker said Hexwave can also be implemented into security systems to control things like door lock systems, video management systems, and command and control in cases where an immediate response is needed.

Hexwave uses an array of antennas to create a 3D point cloud image of people that pass by its towers. (Image source: Liberty Defense)

Liberty Defense says about 1,000 people can pass through a Hexwave-enabled security post. But there are limitations in terms of queuing people through the system. Entrance ways in typical stores, malls, and even schools can be chaotic – with lots of people entering and existing simultaneously in clusters. Hexwave requires each person be scanned one and a time – which means single file lines.

“The radar or the the energy we’re using is non-ionizing. So we’re out of the x-ray side, past millimeter wave, and into a different area,” Riker said. “And so what ends up occurring here is you can’t see through people. But, quite frankly, you can’t see through multiple people with x-ray systems either.”

Riker said the Hexwave system does offer an increased throughput over typical security stations and metal detectors – as well as more accuracy for security personnel – that Liberty Defense believes will ease any burden by requiring people to line up.

“So you get your increased throughput from two things really: Number one, you’re passing through at a walking pace and you typically should not have to divest of your typical articles on your body like a cell phone, a set of keys, or something like that. And then that’s also when it does identify something that’s either a known threat, clearly not a threat, or as an anomaly.

“Let’s say there’s an odd shaped object on you that’s really big that may look like a bar of soap. Why are you carrying a bar of soap on you? That’s kind of an odd thing to have, so the system will say something’s wrong here. It’s an anomaly. But the system also shows where that object is on your body so that a security official can go ahead and say, ‘Okay, please step over here for a second; what is that in your back pocket?’ ”

The real time speed of the system also offers an advantage over systems such as what the public may be used to in airports, for example.

“The airports do a great job. The technology is very effective. Airport scanners or the body scanners are typically using a four-millimeter wave and they are creating an image. It’s just that it’s not in real time. The reason why you can’t have little kids go through it is not because of the emission level. It’s because the kids typically can’t stay still. If you move ,you blur the image.

“For our system, it’s capturing the images several times a second. Little kids, adults, everyone can just keep walking through,” Riker said.

This anomaly detection feature becomes particularly important as criminals will often find ways around any new security system given enough time and experience. Different facilities can instruct the system to flag certain large items that shouldn’t be carried in (think large bags at sports stadiums) and human guards can intervene if something like a radar jammer or scrambler causes interference in the system. “If you’ve got a handgun or something like that in a radar-proof bag, it’s going to see a big bag on your body, flag the anomaly, and trigger the subsequent inspection,” Riker said.

In April 2019, Liberty Defense was granted an experimental license by the FCC to begin testing Hexwave. The company is planning to roll out beta tests in first half of 2020. As of writing 11 site have agreed to participate including Rogers Arena in Vancouver, the University of Wisconsin, and the Virginia state capital building in Richmond, VA. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has committed to testing Hexwave in his state. And the Maryland Stadium Authority will be testing the technology in various sporting venues.

Under federal law all firearms must be able to be detected by a metal detector, and all major components must be detectable by x-ray. The Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 requires guns to be detectable by metal detectors even “after removal of grips, stocks, and magazines,” and the barrel, the slide or cylinder, or the frame or receiver must be detectable by x-ray.

However, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence cautions: “The Undetectable Firearms Act does not specify what portion of the firearm must be detectable by a metal detector. This could allow an individual to create a mostly plastic but technically compliant firearm, using a 3D printer or other technology, that contains metal in an extraneous part of the firearm that could be removed prior to entering a security area.”

Riker said Liberty Defense is hoping to provide the public with a degree of safety and peace of mind that legislation hasn’t been able to. “That peace of mind seems to be eroding right now. So there’s a great potential to help recover that in our society,” he said. “I think we’re pretty confident that we’ll be able to stay ahead of the threat curve”

Chris Wiltz is a Senior Editor at  Design News covering emerging technologies including AI, VR/AR, blockchain, and robotics.

DesignCon 2020 25th anniversary Logo

January 28-30: North America’s largest chip, board, and systems event, DesignCon, returns to Silicon Valley for its 25th year! The premier educational conference and technology exhibition, this three-day event brings together the brightest minds across the high-speed communications and semiconductor industries, who are looking to engineer the technology of tomorrow. DesignCon is your rocket to the future. Ready to come aboard? 

Register to attend!


The Purdue University team chose compounds in foods, like plants, nuts and fruits – all of which might have similar chemistry to the adhesives seen in shellfish that stick to rock – to develop new, non-toxic adhesives for single-use applications.. (Image source: Purdue University)

A research team a Purdue University has taken inspiration from natural food sources to develop new, strong adhesive materials from compounds in nuts, fruits, and plants.

Gudrun Schmidt, an associate professor in Purdue’s College of Science, said the researchers hope their materials can replace the glues currently used in electronics and other consumer products, which are typically made from petroleum-based materials and are toxic to the environment.

“Adhesives are used in almost every consumer product that we touch each day,” Schmidt said in a press statement. “We would love to leave this planet a better place for the future generations. It turns out creating new adhesives is one way that we will get there.”

The team is especially interested in developing more eco-friendly adhesives for single-use products, which are those that produce the most waste and thus could significantly benefit from non-toxic adhesives, researchers said.

High performance without toxicity

The materials the researchers focused on are formed from corn zein protein and tannic acid, according to an abstract for a paper published about the work in the journal Advanced Sustainable Systems.

“High-strength adhesive bonding is found when the formulations are optimized with regard to composition, pH, and curing temperature,” the researchers explained in the abstract.

The team tested the bonding of their adhesive on aluminum substrates using lap shear configurations. In these tests, they reported that adhesives formed from these materials, at maximum adhesion, can be as strong as commercial Super Glue “when measured under similar conditions.”

“Adhesion strengths exceed the minimal bonding of zein‐only controls,” they wrote. “The system forms nanometer and micrometer-sized pores throughout the bulk adhesive.”

A low amount of tannic acid and neutral pH of the strongest adhesive make the materials based on corn zein–tannic acid “potentially appealing” for a number of commercial applications. Those include “adhesives used in packaging, cosmetics, and other single-use applications where biomedical grade purity is not required.”

“We found that some combinations of zein protein and tannic acid could be reacted together in order to generate high-performance adhesives that could be alternatives to carcinogenic formaldehyde used in the glues that hold lots of furniture and other household items together,” Schmidt said in a press statement. “It would be a big health benefit if we could switch over to bio-based or even food-based adhesives.”

Other potential applications for the adhesive materials developed by the team include cardboard packaging, cosmetics, and construction materials like plywood, she added.

Elizabeth Montalbano is a freelance writer who has written about technology and culture for more than 20 years. She has lived and worked as a professional journalist in Phoenix, San Francisco and New York City. In her free time she enjoys surfing, traveling, music, yoga and cooking. She currently resides in a village on the southwest coast of Portugal.


Check out the best curated technical content from the editors at Design News.

For electronic developers, 2019 was another stellar year. In addition to ongoing challenges and successes in areas such as embedded systems, hardware chips-board systems and system-of-systems (like satellites), there were new materials, evolving design approaches and insights to be considered. Here are the best stories that covered these issues from the 2019 Design News arhives.

  1. Top 10 2019 engineering, science and technology awards – Each year reveals further advances in the disciplines of technology, engineering and science. This year, luminaries were awarded for their work in cosmology, photonics, GPS systems, video processing, semiconductors, brain neurons and more.
  2. Who’s left to make chip development tools? –Electronic design automation (EDA) are the software tools used for designing electronic systems, such as system-on-chip (SoC) integrated circuits and printed circuit boards. The tools work in a design-verification flow that chip designers use to analyze and develop semiconductor chips. Here’s a look at the remaining major EDA tool companies after years of consolidation.
  3. Complete integrated circuits fabricated using printing press – Researchers have for the first time printed complete integrated circuits that have more than 100 organic transistors, a breakthrough in the quest to use printing to create complex next-generation electronic and computing devices. The breakthrough eliminates the need to use multiple manufacturing methods to create an integrated circuit with more than 100 organic transistors.
  4. 2 game-changing trends that will define embedded systems in the 2020s – The last decade has seen an amazing advancement in embedded system development techniques, tools and technologies. The next decade has the potential to dramatically change the way that products and embedded systems are developed.
  5. Developing an embedded software build pipeline – One interesting fact that I’ve noticed about embedded software development is that development processes and techniques tend to lag the general software industry. Developing a more sophisticated build pipeline can have dramatic effects on the embedded software development life cycle.
  6. 8 criteria to evaluate when selecting an RTOS – Real-time operating systems (RTOS) are finding their way into nearly two-thirds of all applications. Cost is a factor. But there are more important things to consider when choosing a real-time operating system.
  7. Old 3G battle shifts to 5G struggle – The old 3G battle between communication and computational industries has been replaced with the 5G struggle between nations and sub-6 vs mmWave global spectrums.
  8. Internet of Space or Space Junk?– When bad movies make good predictions and how to lessen the Kessler Syndrome with everything from AI to space harpoons.
  9. Did Edison Really Lose a Non-Existent ‘Current War?’ – The recent movie, The Current War, dramatizes the struggles between Edison, Westinghouse, and Tesla to bring electrical power to the US. But was the “war” actually fabricated?
  10. 3 Do’s and Don’ts for Medical Device Software Development – Medical devices are one of the fastest growing areas of embedded hardware and software development. Here are some successful strategies – and potential pitfalls – gleaned from real-world medical device development projects.
  11. Microorganisms Provide Solar Energy Independent of Using Solar Cells – The concept of solar energy usually inspires images of long rows of solar panels lined up in a vast field. Researchers in Sweden achieved production-potential amounts of butanol using carbon dioxide and sunlight
  12. Beware the Hidden Costs of a Free Embedded RTOS – If you’re basing your selection of a real-time operating system (RTOS) solely on initial cost, then you may be in for a rude awakening.
  13. 8 RISC-V Companies to Watch – The open source nature of RISC-V promises to enable companies to create custom chip hardware specifically tailored to their products and devices. These eight companies are developing their own RISC-V technologies and are committing to helping third parties do the same to help push adoption of the open-source chip architecture. April 2019
  14. New Material Could Transform How Electronics Are Built – A new family of crystal materials can serve a dual purpose in electron movement in electronic devices, potentially changing how they will be designed in the future.
  15. Biocompatible Transistor Invented for New Devices – Researchers have developed what they said is the first biocompatible ion-driven transistor fast enough to enable real-time signal sensing and stimulation of brain signals.
  16. Efficient Fabrication Method Achieved for Nano-Sized Processors – A new rapid fabrication method for nano-scale semiconductors could help advance the design of next-generation processors.
  17. The Biggest Embedded Software Issue Is … – There are many different problems and challenges that embedded software developers are facing today. One of the biggest and least spoken about issues is that too many developers are writing software code without considering what could go wrong.
  18. Smart Manufacturing Expert Says It’s Time to Embrace Fuzziness – Combining fuzzy sensing technologies with artificial intelligence, manufacturers can learn more about their enterprise for less cost.
  19. 2019 Will Be the Year of Open Source – After decades of being looked at as more of a subculture (or arguably counter-culture) in the larger technology landscape, open source is finally getting its due. From software and even hardware, we saw more activity in open source than ever before in 2018. 

John Blyler is a Design News senior editor, covering the electronics and advanced manufacturing spaces. With a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering, he has years of hardware-software-network systems experience as an editor and engineer within the advanced manufacturing, IoT and semiconductor industries. John has co-authored books related to system engineering and electronics for IEEE, Wiley, and Elsevier.

(Image source: Adobe Stock)

We’ve picked our favorite AI-related stories from 2019.

The 10 greatest issues AI needs to face

While we celebrate the positive impacts of artificial intelligence let’s not forget there’s also a lot to be concerned about.

The Apple Card Is the Most High-Profile Case of AI Bias Yet

Apple Card users have alleged that its credit decision algorithm discriminates against women.

How AI at the Edge Is Defining Next-Generation Hardware Platforms

Moving AI from the cloud to the edge was a big trend in 2019. Chris Cheng, distinguished technologist on the hardware machine learning team at Hewlett Packard, takes a look at some of the latest research being done on AI inference at the edge.

(Image source: OpenAI)

OpenAI’s Robot Hand Taught Itself How to Solve a Rubik’s Cube

Rubik’s Cube Solving Robot Hand Sparks Debate in the AI Community

Using novel neural networks, OpenAI enabled a robotic hand is able to learn how to solve a Rubik’s Cube on its own. Concerns regarding OpenAI’s robot hand that can solve a Rubik’s Cube have created a debate among engineers and AI experts on social media.

What’s the State of Emotional AI?

Artificial intelligence that can recognize human emotions – emotional AI – has been gaining momentum. But something’s missing. How long until we’ll be seeing it in our devices and cars?

(Image source: TuSimple)

UPS Has Invested in Autonomous Trucks After Ongoing Tests

TuSimple’s Autonomous Trucks Are Being Tested by the USPS

In 2019, TuSimple entered into partnerships with UPS and the US Postal Service to test self-driving trucks for hauling mail freight.

The New Raspberry Pi 4 Is All About AI and Embedded IoT

The Raspberry Pi has grown from a hobbyist machine to an IoT developer platform capable of even handling machine learning applications. Here’s our hands-on look.

A Look at the US/China Battle for AI Leadership

The US and China are waging a behind-the-scenes war over who will emerge as the global powerhouse of artificial intelligence. Where do each country’s strengths and weaknesses lie?

There’s a Diversity Crisis in the AI Industry

A lack of racial and gender diversity at the companies creating AI ties closely with issues of bias and racial discrimination in artificial intelligence algorithms, according to a new NYU study.

(Image source: Pixabay)

Can Trump’s New Initiative Make American AI Great Again?

A look at President Trump’s executive order aimed at accelerating America’s lead in artificial intelligence.

AI Could Make Quantum Computers a Reality

New research is examining the use of artificial intelligence to handle the calculations necessary for quantum computers to function.


Despite mounting evidence from the world’s scientists of the desperate need for climate change mitigation, despite nearly three decades of international summits to come to terms with our historic challenge, we’re addicted to fossil fuels in the same manner as someone that refuses to let go of the very cigarettes that are killing him.

regional resilience, climate change, electricity, energy future
Tackling Regional Resilience at small scale in local towns and small islands will teach us all how we can begin a managed transition away from reliance on old systems. (Image source: Nexight)

For the past century and more, we’ve spent trillions building out our electric infrastructure to leverage energy stored in coal and, now, natural gas. Alongside, we’ve built our transportation system on refined petroleum – gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. The idea of walking away from these massive investments that gave us modern life seems unimaginable to many people, most notably political leaders who refuse to lead us out. When our leaders fail to underscore the critical need for mitigation, they are failing to connect the dots that lead to carbon emissions and spell doom for generations to come. So far, taking action to decarbonize our lives has proven just too big a lift for leaders and institutions, just as it has for the individual consumer.

Now, as extreme weather like California wildfires, Category 5 hurricanes and frequent 100- and 500-year flooding fill the news, regions directly affected are confronted with the need to adapt to the consequences of our collective failure to address our fossil fuel consumption. Amid the doom and gloom like the dire climate report released on the Friday after Thanksgiving (Black Friday, now that’s ironic), the inescapable conclusion for those in regions who experienced life changing severe weather is that business-as-usual has come to a screeching halt.

When PG&E enacted its Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) policy and disconnected hundreds to thousands in high wind conditions to avoid wildfires, they put millions and billions on notice that the status quo of historic reliability was wavering. Dramatic change is no longer inconceivable for Californians who suddenly lost power for days at a time. A less reliable grid means we must take action to adapt. The new reality we’ll need to get used to has a name – Resilience. And because impacts vary by region, it’s time we start talking about Regional Resilience as the key to climate change adaptation.

The engineer’s role

Designing our new clean energy future is both an urgent need and a compelling opportunity for leadership.  And there’s a special role for engineers to play. As specialists in problem solving, engineers have the opportunity to take the initiative where nobody else will. For those who actually consider it, the principal challenge of climate change, beyond adapting to its impacts with regional resilience, remains mitigation – we simply have to stop carbon emissions. The Rule of Holes says, “When you find yourself in a hole, first thing you do is stop digging.”

More directly, we have to stop the extraction, production and distribution of fossil fuels…and we have to stop rapidly. But to rapidly decarbonize our economies and societies, we need new policies to support new systems and new infrastructure. As those in affected regions will tell you, life must go on, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges…we now have to do both. We have to decarbonize to mitigate climate change, even as we adapt to the impacts that are upon us. And we have to do all this more rapidly than ever before. It’s the mother of all challenges.

Resilience, “the ability to take a hit and get back up,” synonymous with toughness. The need for resilience manifests itself in different ways in different regions as the impacts of climate change become ever more evident. Beyond the recent wildfires and public safety power shutoffs hitting California, the Caribbean has experienced devastating hurricanes forever. But what have always been a seasonal challenge now in their more extreme form pose a more existential threat. The new reality of Category 5 monsters like Hurricane Maria challenges just about everything that defines modern life in Puerto Rico. With more frequent, more extreme storms, there’s not enough money to keep rebuilding the grid whenever it gets knocked over. We must contemplate what comes next. What could a resilient future look like?

Finding the answer to that question begins with understanding how two sectors that drive our economies – electricity and transportation – could transform rapidly by decarbonizing. Even though both industries developed over a century, steeped in paradigms oriented around fossil fuel combustion, we need a new set of essentials, a new paradigm in order to reset our design foundations and shift rapidly. The key to Rapid Regional Resilience lies in merging electricity and transportation into a single industry.

Designing this Transportation Electrification Transformation will help us to imagine how we can rapidly decarbonize and gain regional resilience – how we can blend mitigation and adaptation. Letting go of old ideas will make room for new, better ones. With clarity of purpose and vision, deliberate redesign can replace extending old paradigms and accidental incrementalism. We must avoid what slows us down and creates the sense of impossibility that confounds us.  

What would a more deliberate redesign even look like? For starters, it would make innovation the foundation of any design plan. Incrementalism would be replaced with transformation. Engineers free to bypass inconvenient constraints would craft out-of-the-box solutions that integrate technological and business model innovation. Creative collaboration would lead to designing by leveraging each other’s best ideas, using concepts we already know, like Wisdom of Crowds, Iterative Design, The Fierce Urgency of Now and Feedback Loops. The genius of fast fail iterations is vital to going at the speed needed to match our challenges.

Tackling Regional Resilience at small scale in local towns and small islands will teach us all how we can begin a managed transition away from reliance on old systems. We can redesign or replace these systems built in an age where we didn’t have to think about decarbonization and resilience. We can be constructive by building new systems that fit our new imperatives. Our collective future depends on focusing on what we can build, rather than what we must give up, on what we can design, rather than what is seemingly impossible. Design based on creative collaboration and innovation will point the way forward to push past the inconceivable and impossible.

John Cooper is an energy entrepreneur and thought leader with 33 years of experience in a variety of pioneering roles and projects, and a nationally-recognized innovator in energy. Since 2017 and 2018, John has worked with innovative startups to accelerate DER penetration and carbon mitigation in cities, regions and countries. John co-founded in 2018 to provide a product solution to Transportation Electrification that provides multiple benefits to the utility, transportation and public sectors. John now serves as VP Business Development Americas for Tritium, a global leader in the rapidly growing DC fast charging industry.

DesignCon 2020 25th anniversary Logo

January 28-30: North America’s largest chip, board, and systems event, DesignCon, returns to Silicon Valley for its 25th year! The premier educational conference and technology exhibition, this three-day event brings together the brightest minds across the high-speed communications and semiconductor industries, who are looking to engineer the technology of tomorrow. DesignCon is your rocket to the future. Ready to come aboard? Register to attend!


Luminaries from 2019 were awarded for their work in cosmology, photonics, GPS systems, video processing, semiconductors, brain neurons and more.

  • Each year reveals further advances in the disciplines of technology, engineering and science. In recognition of these yearly advances, key individuals are awarded with honors and prizes from a variety of very different organizations. These organizations include the National Academy of Sciences, the Nobel Prizes, various IEEE societies, Queen Elizabeth bi-annual prize, the Emmy’s Engineering award – and more.  Ten of the best of these awards have been collected to highlight the broad range of the achievements in 2019.

  • 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics

    “The Royal Swedish Academy of Science Nobel Prize in Physics recognizes both theoretical and experimental contributions to understanding the universe. This year, the prize is awarded to APS Fellow James Peebles (Princeton University), Michel Mayor (University of Geneva), and Didier Queloz (University of Geneva; University of Cambridge). 

    Half of the prize is awarded to Peebles for his theoretical insights into physical cosmology that have impacted the trajectory of cosmology research for the past 50 years and form the basis of the current ideas about the universe. The other half of the prize is awarded jointly to Mayor and Queloz for the first discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star in the Milky Way in 1995.”

    Image Source: MLA style: The Nobel Prize in Physics 2019. Nobel Media AB 2019. Thu. 19 Dec 2019.

  • Comstock Prize in Physics

    “Michal Lipson, Columbia University, received the 2019 Comstock Prize in Physics. Her pioneering research established the groundwork for silicon photonics, a growing field in which she remains a pioneer and leader. The technology, which uses optical rays to transfer data among computer chips, is now considered to be one of the most promising directions for solving major bottlenecks in microelectronics.

    Lipson developed techniques to tailor the electro-optic properties of silicon that led to the first advances in silicon photonics, including demonstrating the ability to confine light well beyond the traditional diffraction limit using what she termed “slot waveguides.” These waveguides are being applied for many applications, including telecommunications, bio-sensing, and on-chip transport of nanoparticles.”

  • Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

    “The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, also known as the QEPrize, is a global engineering prize that rewards and celebrates the engineers responsible for a ground-breaking innovation in engineering that has been of global benefit to humanity. The £1 million prize is awarded biennially in the name of Queen Elizabeth II. The 2019 prize went to four US engineers – Dr Bradford Parkinson, Professor James Spilker, Hugo Fruehauf, and Richard Schwartz for the creation of the first truly global, satellite-based positioning system (GPS). Parkinson won the prize for leading the development, design, and testing of key GPS components. James Spilker, Jr was awarded for developing the L-band GPS civil signal structure using CDMA. Hugo FrueHauf was honored for his instrumental role creating a highly accurate miniaturized atomic clock using a rubidium oscillator. Finally, Richard Schwartz won the prize for leading the design and development of the highly robust, long-lasting Block I satellites.”

  • Engineering Emmy Awards

    The Television Academy awarded Hugo Gaggioni with the Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award for 2019. This award honors a living individual whose ongoing contributions have significantly affected the state of television technology and engineering.

    In his storied 31-year tenure at Sony Electronics, Hugo Gaggioni has achieved many scientific and technical accomplishments and is widely known for his unique ability to present and explain complex technical concepts to professionals and civilians alike. He now serves as chief technology officer of the broadcast and production systems division, pursuing his research interests in digital video image processing, information theory, audio/video bandwidth compression, HDTV devices and systems, digital filter banks, and multidimensional signal processing.  He is a Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) fellow and recipient of both the David Sarnoff and the Leitch Medals.

  • IEEE History Committee Honors Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman

    Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman have been honored by IEEE History Committee for their book, “A Mind at Play: How Claud Shannon Invented the Information Age” (Simon and Schuster, 2017). Both authors were chosen as the winners of the 2019 IEEE William and Joyce Middleton Electrical Engineering History Award. Established in 2014, this award recognizes annually the author of a book (published within the previous three years) in the history of an IEEE-related technology that both exemplifies exceptional scholarship and reaches beyond academic communities toward a broad public audience. Most of the Center’s resources are available online at the Engineering and Technology History Wiki

    “In their second collaboration, the biographers present the story of Claude Shannon—one of the foremost intellects of the twentieth century and the architect of the Information Age, whose insights stand behind every computer built, email sent, video streamed, and webpage loaded. Claude Shannon was a groundbreaking polymath, a brilliant tinkerer, and a digital pioneer. He constructed the first wearable computer, outfoxed Vegas casinos, and built juggling robots. He also wrote the seminal text of the digital revolution, which has been called “the Magna Carta of the Information Age.” In this elegantly written, exhaustively researched biography, Soni and Goodman reveal Claude Shannon’s full story for the first time.”

  • IEEE Robert Noyce Awards

    The IEEE Robert N. Noyce Medal honors of Robert N. Noyce, founder of Intel Corporation. He was renowned for his 1959 invention of the integrated circuit and for leadership in the research and development of advanced microelectronic design automation tools. The 2019 recipient of this award was Antun Domic, Chief Technical Officer, at Synopsys.

    “The electronic design automation (EDA) tools, methodologies, and flows developed under Antun Domic’s leadership have driven the state of the art in digital microelectronics for almost three decades and have enabled the continued miniaturization of the electronic components that power today’s applications. EDA makes possible the creation of complex electronic systems with computer software that aids in the design, verification, and testing processes and helps detect and eliminate bugs and defects in chips and circuit boards. The EDA tools developed under Domic’s leadership while at Synopsys and other companies have impacted the creation of a large number of the world’s most advanced microelectronic components by enabling the design of chips containing billions of gates from high-level synthesis through physical layout and verification, including timing, power, area, and test optimization, all the way to the final design result.”

  • Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) Awards

    Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) recognizes semiconductor companies that have demonstrated excellence through their success, vision, strategy and future opportunities in the industry at its annual Awards Dinner Celebration. The Dr. Morris Chang Exemplary Leadership Award, sponsored by the Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA), recognizes individuals for their exceptional contributions to drive the development, innovation, growth and long-term opportunities for the semiconductor industry. The recipient of this award for 2019 was James (Jim) C. Morgan, Chairman Emeritus of Applied Materials, Inc.

    “Applied Materials develops technology and equipment used to produce virtually every new chip and advanced display in the world. Morgan ran Applied for nearly three decades— one of the longest tenures of a Fortune 500 CEO. He has been acknowledged for his numerous contributions within the technology industry and around the world for his leadership within the community. He advised three U.S. Presidents on matters of trade and competitiveness, serving on the National Advisory Committee on Semiconductors. He is also a recipient of the IEEE Robert N. Noyce Medal for his vision and leadership that transformed Applied Materials into an innovation leader and global partner for advancing microelectronics manufacturing technology.”

  • EDA Phil Kaufman Award

    Presented by the Electronic System Design (ESD) Alliance and the IEEE Council on Electronic Design Automation, this award honors an individual who has had demonstrable impact on electronic design through contributions in the field of EDA. The recipient for 2019 is Dr. Mary Jane Irwin.

    “Dr. Irwin has been honored for her extensive contributions to EDA through her technical efforts, service to the community and leadership. During her tenure at Pennsylvania State University, she mentored countless students and contributed to technology through her substantial research and numerous publications. Her research included creating EDA tools then using them in computer architecture research, an approach that gave Dr. Irwin influence in both academia and industry.”

  • National Academy of Sciences

    Liqun Luo, Stanford University, received the 2019 Pradel Research Award. This award is presented annually to recognize mid-career neuroscientists whose work is making major contributions to our understanding of the nervous system.

    “Luo has conducted pioneering research, often using techniques of his own invention, to improve our understanding of how neural circuits in the brain assemble and how they are organized to allow information processing. One of Luo’s early achievements was the development of Mosaic Analysis with a Repressible Cell Marker (MARCM), a genetics technique for specifically labelling isolated mutant cells within an otherwise normal fruit fly, a model organism for genetics research. This allowed Luo to study single neurons within a complex brain, which enabled him to make fundamental breakthroughs in our understanding of the fly’s brain development. In particular, Luo focused on the olfactory system and has identified numerous genetic elements that control neuronal wiring and made the olfactory system as a model for understanding neural circuit assembly in all species.”

  • DesignCon Engineer-of-the-Year Award

    DesignCon’s “Engineer of the Year” Award is given out each year during the DesignCon event. The award seeks to recognize the best of the best in engineering and new product advancements at the chip, board, or system level. The award winner will be selected based on his or her leadership, creativity, and out-of-the-box thinking brought to design/test of chips, boards, or systems, with particular attention paid to areas of signal and power integrity.

    This year’s award went to Vishram Pandit for his ability to share knowledge with the technical community that will one day create the CPUs for next-generation cars, phones, and servers. He has co-authored a book on Power Integrity for I/O Interfaces, and is co-author of approximately 30 conference and journal publications, out of which 19 were presented at DesignCon. Those papers have received 3 best paper awards and 3 finalist awards. Vishram received the 2018 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the Signal and Power integrity field.

John Blyler is a Design News senior editor, covering the electronics and advanced manufacturing spaces. With a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering, he has years of hardware-software-network systems experience as an editor and engineer within the advanced manufacturing, IoT and semiconductor industries. John has co-authored books related to system engineering and electronics for IEEE, Wiley, and Elsevier.


Engineers will find something of interest in these selections, from Heaviside and Silicon Valley, to sustainable manufacturing, organs-on-a-chip, and more.

  • Don’t know what to get the engineer in your life? Here’s a mix of easily understood, yet engaging, books combined with a few hardcore technical works. All of these books were published in 2019, except for two that still remain worthy of note today.

  • The Forgotten Genius of Oliver Heaviside: A Maverick of Electrical Science

    By: Basil Mahon

    Publisher: Prometheus

    With the release of the film The Current War, it’s easy to forget the contributions of Oliver Heaviside. While The “current war” focused on the competition between Edison, Westinghouse, and Tesla to bring electricity to all of America, Heaviside (a contemporary of Edison and Westinghouse) was focused on electrical engineering technology to help bring mass communication to the country.

    Heaviside gave us the unit step function (remember calculus class?), coaxial cable, and the small coils placed in series with every telephone line to improve the signal by providing inductive loading.

    From the publisher:

    “This biography of Oliver Heaviside profiles the life of an underappreciated genius and describes his many contributions to electrical science, which proved to be essential to the future of mass communications. Oliver Heaviside (1850 -1925) may not be a household name, but he was one of the great pioneers of electrical science: His work led to huge advances in communications and became the bedrock of the subject of electrical engineering as it is taught and practiced today. His achievements include creating the mathematical tools that were to prove essential to the proper understanding and use of electricity, finding a way to rid telephone lines of the distortion that had stifled progress, and showing that electrical power doesn’t flow in a wire but in the space alongside it.

    At first his ideas were thought to be weird, even outrageous, and he had to battle long and hard to get them accepted. Yet by the end of his life he was awarded the first Faraday Medal. This story will restore long-overdue recognition to a scientist whose achievements in many ways were as crucial to our modern age as those of Edison’s and Tesla’s.”

  • Make, Think, Imagine: Engineering the Future of Civilization

    By: John Browne

    Publisher: Pegasus Books

    From the publisher:

    “Today’s unprecedented pace of change leaves many people wondering what new technologies are doing to our lives. Has social media robbed us of our privacy and fed us with false information? Are the decisions about our health, security and finances made by computer programs inexplicable and biased? Will these algorithms become so complex that we can no longer control them? Are robots going to take our jobs? Will better health care lead to an aging population which cannot be cared for? Can we provide housing for our ever-growing urban populations? And has our demand for energy driven the Earth’s climate to the edge of catastrophe? John Browne argues that we need not and must not put the brakes on technological advance. Civilization is founded on engineering innovation; all progress stems from the human urge to make things and to shape the world around us, resulting in greater freedom, health and wealth for all. Drawing on history, his own experiences and conversations with many of today’s great innovators, he uncovers the basis for all progress and its consequences, both good and bad. He argues compellingly that the same spark that triggers each innovation can be used to counter its negative consequences. This book provides an blueprint for how we can keep moving towards a brighter future.”

  • The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America

    By: Margaret O’Mara

    Publisher: Penguin

    Margaret O’Mara worked in the White House of Bill Clinton and Al Gore in the earliest days of the commercial Internet. There she saw firsthand how deeply intertwined Silicon Valley was with the federal government–and always had been–and how shallow the common understanding of the secrets of the Valley’s success actually was.

    In this work, she tells the story of mavericks and visionaries, but also of powerful institutions creating the framework for innovation, from the Pentagon to Stanford University. It is also a story of a community that started off remarkably homogeneous and tight-knit and stayed that way, and whose belief in its own mythology has deepened into a collective hubris that has led to astonishing triumphs as well as devastating second-order effects.

  • The Design of Coffee: An Engineering Approach

    By: William Ristenpart, Tonya Kuhl

    Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

    Here’s another work that was published a few years ago but is relevant this year for its emphasis on cross-discipline collaboration, a trend noted in the chemistry industry.

    From the publisher:

    “[This book] provides a non-mathematical introduction to chemical engineering, as illustrated by the roasting and brewing of coffee. Hands-on coffee experiments demonstrate key engineering principles, including material balances, chemical kinetics, mass transfer, fluid mechanics, conservation of energy, and colloidal phenomena. The experiments lead to an engineering design competition where contestants strive to make the best tasting coffee using the least amount of energy – a classic engineering optimization problem, but one that is both fun and tasty! 

    Anybody with access to a sink, electricity, and inexpensive coffee roasting and brewing equipment can do these experiments, either as part of a class or with your friends at home. The Design of Coffee will help you understand how to think like an engineer – and how to make excellent coffee!”

  • Human Compatible: AI and the Problem of Control

    By: Stuart Russell, Allen Lane

    Publisher: Viking

    From the publisher:

    “Creating superior intelligence would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, according to the world’s pre-eminent AI expert, it could also be the last. In this book on the biggest question facing humanity, the author explains why he has come to consider his own discipline an existential threat to his own species, and lays out how we can change course before it’s too late. There is no one better placed to assess the promise and perils of the dominant technology of the future than Russell, who has spent decades at the forefront of AI research. Through brilliant analogies prose, he explains how AI actually works, how it has an enormous capacity to improve our lives – but why we must ensure that we never lose control of machines more powerful than we are. Here Russell shows how we can avert the worst threats by reshaping the foundations of AI to guarantee that machines pursue our objectives, not theirs.”

  • Organ-on-a-Chip: Engineered Microenvironments for Safety and Efficacy Testing

    By: Julia Hoeng (Editor), David Bovard (Editor), Manuel Peitsch (Editor)

    Publisher: Academic Press/Elsevier

    From the publisher:

    “[This book] contains chapters from world-leading researchers in the field of organ on a chip development and applications, with perspectives from life sciences, medicine, physiology and engineering. The book details the field, with sections covering the major organ systems and currently available technologies, platforms and methods. As readers may also be interested in creating biochips, materials and engineering best practice, these topics are also described. Users will learn about the limitations of 2D in-vitro models and the available 3D in-vitro models (what benefits they offer and some examples). Finally, the MOC section shows how the organ on a chip technology can be adapted to improve the physiology of in-vitro models.”

  • Sustainable Engineering Products and Manufacturing Technologies

    By: Kaushik Kumar (Editor), Divya Zindani (Editor), J. Paulo Davim (Editor)

    Publisher: Academic Press/Elsevier

    From the publisher:

    “[This book] provides the reader with a detailed look at the latest research into technologies that reduce the environmental impacts of manufacturing. All points where engineering decisions can influence the environmental sustainability of a product are examined, including the sourcing of non-toxic, sustainable raw materials, how to choose manufacturing processes that use energy responsibly and minimize waste, and how to design products to maximize reusability and recyclability. The subject of environmental regulation is also addressed, with references to both the US and EU and the future direction of legislation.”

    Finally, sustainability factors are investigated alongside other product considerations, such as quality, price, manufacturability and functionality, to help readers design processes and products that are economically viable and environmentally friendly.”

  • Introductory Electrical Engineering With Math Explained in Accessible Language

    By: Magno Urbano

    Publisher: Wiley

    From the publisher:

    “[This work] offers a text that explores the basic concepts and principles of electrical engineering. The author explains the underlying mathematics involved in electrical engineering through the use of examples that help with an understanding of the theory. The text contains clear explanations of the mathematical theory that is needed to understand every topic presented, which will aid students in engineering courses who may lack the necessary basic math knowledge.”

    “Designed to breakdown complex math concepts into understandable terms, the book incorporates several math tricks and knowledge such as matrices determinant and multiplication. The author also explains how certain mathematical formulas are derived. In addition, the text includes tables of integrals and other tables to help, for example, find resistors’ and capacitors’ values. The author provides the accessible language, examples, and images that make the topic accessible and understandable.”

  • What Is Data Engineering?

    By: Lewis Gavin

    Publisher: O’Reilly Media, Inc.

    From the publisher:

    “The demand for data scientists is well-known, but when it comes time to build solutions based on data, your company also needs data engineers—people with strong data warehousing and programming backgrounds. In fact, whether you’re powering self-driving cars or creating music playlists, this field has emerged as one of the most important in modern business. In this report, Lewis Gavin explores key aspects of data engineering and presents a case study from Spotify that demonstrates the tremendous value of this role.”

  • Lithium-Ion Battery Failures in Consumer Electronics

    By: Ashish Arora, Sneha Arun Lele, Noshirwan Medora, Shukri Souri 

    Publisher: Artech House

    From the publisher:

    “This comprehensive resource caters to system designers that are looking to incorporate lithium ion (li-ion) batteries in their applications. Detailed discussion of the various system considerations that must be addressed at the design stage to reduce the risk of failures in the field is presented. The book includes technical details of all state-of-the-art Li-on energy storage subsystems and their requirements and provides a system designer a single resource detailing all of the common issues navigated when using Li-ion batteries to reduce the risk of field failures.

    “The book details the various industry standards that are applicable to the subsystems of Li-ion energy storage systems and how the requirements of these standards may impact the design of their system. Checklists are included to help readers evaluate their own battery system designs and identify gaps in the designs that increase the risk of field failures. The book is packed with numerous examples of issues that have caused field failures and how a proper design/assembly process could have reduced the risk of these failures.”

John Blyler is a Design News senior editor, covering the electronics and advanced manufacturing spaces. With a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering, he has years of hardware-software-network systems experience as an editor and engineer within the advanced manufacturing, IoT and semiconductor industries. John has co-authored books related to system engineering and electronics for IEEE, Wiley, and Elsevier.


Mindflex, from Mattel and NeuroSky, used brainwaves to control a series of fans to navigate a floating ball through an obstacle course. (Image source: NeuroSky)

Remember about five years ago when several consumer headsets from NeuroSky and Emotiv were pitched as a computer game controllers? For example, NeuroSky promoted its EEG Headset as a training aid for young padawans to focus their minds through various exercises so they could control the movement of tablet-projected holograms. Based upon the wearer’s focus and concentration, the brainwave sensors on the EEG headset would allow them to interact with an application on a table.

NeuroSky and others (most notably, Emotiv) have created EEG headsets for gaming, neurological rehabilitation, and other applications. These headsets are examples of brain computer interface (BCI) technology – a computer-based system that acquires brain signals, analyzes them, and translates them into commands that are relayed to an output device like a computer, game console, medical prosthetic, or similar devices.

A BCI doesn’t actually read thoughts but rather detects the smallest of changes in the energy radiated by the brain when you think in a certain way. A BCI recognizes specific energy/frequency patterns in the brain. Some believe that the combination of humans and technology could be more powerful than artificial intelligence (AI) alone. For example, instead of relying on human perception and reasoning, one could use neurotechnologies to improve our perception, as in the case of interpreting a blurry security camera image before deciding whether to take action.

In the future, perhaps the carbon-based mind will connect directly with silicon-based artificial intelligence, robots, and other minds through BCI technologies to greatly extend our existing senses or maybe add new ones.

In order to appreciate what BCI technologies have to offer, it helps to understand a bit of their history.

Infographic – History of Brain Computer Interface (BCI) Tech

John Blyler is a Design News senior editor, covering the electronics and advanced manufacturing spaces. With a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering, he has years of hardware-software-network systems experience as an editor and engineer within the advanced manufacturing, IoT and semiconductor industries. John has co-authored books related to system engineering and electronics for IEEE, Wiley, and Elsevier