fundamentals-of-signal-integrity

As the name suggests, signal integrity deals with the integrity of an electrical signal. It all stems from the fact that digital signals are not really binary values of “1” or “0” but are analog voltage (or current) waveforms. As such, these waveforms are subject to the real-world, physical effects of noise, distortion, and loss. If the distances are short and at low bit rates, then a simple conductor will transmit a waveform with acceptable fidelity. However, at high bit rates and over greater distances or through different mediums, then several effects can degrade the electrical signal to the point where errors occur, data is compromised, and devices fail.

In practice, signal integrity consists of a set of measurements that determine the quality of a signal as a way to analyze and mitigate the effects of noise, distortion and loss. It is a set of design practices and test that address how the electrical properties of almost any interconnect cab mess-up the (relatively) pristine signals that come from integrated circuit chip and how these problems can be fixed. There are two common signal integrity electrical design concerns, namely, the timing and the quality of the signal. Does the signal reach its destination when it is supposed to? Is it in good condition when it gets there?

Electronic and electrical packages are full of interconnects that can affect signal integrity within a chip and throughout a printed circuit board (PCB). For example, consider the changes that a signal may experience when traveling through even a short connector. If there are instantaneous impedance changes, then some of the signal will reflect and the rest will probably have some distortion. In simple terms, there may be ringing in the circuit, often due to multiple reflections between impedance discontinuities at various interface ends.

Image Source: Design News / John Blyler
gm-will-revive-hummer-as-an-electric-off-roader

General Motors will revive its dormant Hummer nameplate as a family of battery electric off-roaders in 2022, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal

GM bought rights to the Hummer name from AM General, maker of the U.S. Army’s High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (Humvee) in 1998 to tap the market for high-capability off-road vehicles, but shuttered the brand along with Pontiac in 2009 in the wake of the company’s bankruptcy.

Image source: General Motors Co.

Market interest in battery electric pickups is burgeoning in the wake of the display of the electric pickup and SUV models by start-up Rivian and Tesla’s announcement of the Cybertruck.

Ford has partnered with and invested in Rivian, with plans to employ the company’s technology in an all-electric version of the brand’s flagship F-150 pickup truck. Detroit start-up Bollinger is also showing blocky electric SUV and pickup truck models that resemble a cross between the Hummer H2 and Land Rover Defender.

Image source: General Motors Co.

In a calibrated revival, Hummer will be a nameplate in the GMC truck brand, rather than the standalone brand it was previously, reports the WSJ. The paper’s sources say Hummer will launch as a pickup truck model, with SUV body styles following later.

GM has made no official announcement yet, but the WSJ reports that there will be a splashy Super Bowl commercial for the GMC Hummer battery electric pickup truck starring basketball superstar Lebron James, so we’ll all have more information by Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 20.

Image source: General Motors Co.

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

friday-funny:-strange-and-amazing-household-experiments

Take a look at some very bizzarre experiments, from odd magnetic properties (printer toner?) and a tree that grows actual chicken eggs.

You have to see this to believe it. Some of these household experiments seem logical. Others seem to have come from another planet.

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 19 years, 17 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

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!

an-electronic-co-pilot-makes-the-damon-hypersport-the-motorcycle-of-the-future

Image source: Damon Motorcycles

The founders of Vancouver’s Damon Motorcycles sought to use technology to make motorcycling safer. Plan A was to develop a sensor-laden helmet to aid the rider’s situational awareness, reports chief technical officer and Damon co-founder Dom Kwong.

But upon consideration, Kwong and co-founder and CEO Jay Girard concluded that it would be better to build safety tech into the motorcycles themselves rather than the helmet. Which meant they’d have to actually build those bikes with the integrated safety systems they imagined.

The resulting Damon Hypersport debuted to acclaim at the Consumer Electronics Show, a venue made appropriate not only by the presence of the electronic safety systems but also by the fact that the Hypersport is a battery electric motorcycle. They decided to go with electric drive because they observed that electric power would be the expected standard going forward, Kwong explained.

Image source: Damon Motorcycles

For a machine that could be seen as the delivery mechanism for safety systems, the Hypersport is impressively executed and boasts amazing specifications. To start: 200 horsepower and 200 miles of highway riding range. In urban riding, with lower speeds and the opportunity to frequently recover energy from regenerative braking extends the riding range on a charge to 300 miles, according to Kwong. Aerodynamic drag at increased speed kills EV range, and Damon concedes that when riding at a more realistic 70 mph highway speed, the Hypersport’s range drops to a still-healthy 160 miles.

Dom Kwong. Image source: Damon Motorcycles

Even with a 21.5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack providing that range, the Hypersport weighs a reasonable 440 lbs. For comparison, the original Nissan Leaf electric car had a 24 kWh battery pack. As an EV, there’s no opportunity to cook the books with a bogus “dry” weight in which the bike is weighed sans fluids. It does have hydraulic brakes, so technically they could shave a few ounces by draining the brake fluid!

As with other EVs, acceleration is a strong point for the Hypersport, with the bike reaching 60 mph in less than 3.0 seconds. The Hypersport’s unique quality as a motorcycle is its Shift system for adjustability, which provides for raising the handlebars, angling the windshield upward, lowering the seat and raising the footpegs.

This means that the Hypersport can switch from track attack mode to commuting mode on the fly, as all the adjustments are electrically powered. This range of adjustability also lets the bike’s dimensions change to exactly suit the rider, making it a better fit for people throughout the size spectrum.

All of this exists in service to what Damon terms CoPilot. CoPilot is a network of sensors connected to an onboard neural net that scans ahead and behind for hazards and warns the rider through an array of LEDs on the trailing edge of the windscreen as well as through haptic feedback in the handlebars.

In addition to scanning in the vicinity of the bike with 1080p cameras and 77 Ghz radar, CoPilot also scans the rider, looking at the grip force on the handgrips, the rider’s position on the seat and the smoothness of control inputs to gauge the rider’s comfort level and expertise. These factors could be used to govern the Hypersport’s power or to apply more aggressive assistance via traction control and antilock braking.

But those kinds of systems are reactive, and CoPilot’s purpose is to proactively help the rider, explained Kwong. Realizing that distracting or confusing riders with feedback from sensors would be even worse than having no information at all, Damon aimed to make the information presented to riders as simple and obvious as possible, he said. That means a solid bar of red LEDs and vibration through the handlebars if a forward collision is imminent. Amber LEDs on the left and right sides of the windscreen provide blind spot warning.

Image source: Damon Motorcycles

The rear-facing camera replaces the frequently useless rear-view mirrors that adorn sport motorcycles with a wide-angle display on the instrument panel that helps inform the rider of what’s happening behind, while the rear radar will call the rider’s attention to the screen if it detects a fast-closing object that threatens to rear-end the motorcycle.

“Anti-lock brakes and traction control are reactive systems,” said Kwong. “That’s already happened. We’re providing information to the rider so they can avoid the accident.”

This includes when the bike is stationary, because stopped motorcyclists seem to be the frequent victims of impact by drivers who never see them right ahead. “Stopped in traffic you’re a sitting duck,” said Kwong. Such riders typically never even realize that the car is bearing down on them, but with the Hypersport’s sensors, they can get an early warning.

Image source: Damon Motorcycles

“Now I have three options,” said Kwong. “I can move the bike, jump out of the way or at least brace for impact. At least you have an awareness that something is going to happen.”

The Hypersport’s simple LED indicators and vibrating hand grips are designed so that riders will process their meaning instantly, Kwong explained. “I don’t want my riders to have to think, ‘What does this alert mean?’”

That’s why he chose the haptic feedback for collision warning. “Vibration is a very visceral experience,” he said.

Image source: Damon Motorcycles

And the color and location of the LED warning lights contribute to the clarity of those alerts too. “These are very simple visual cues. I want the rider not to have to think about what is going on.”

Damon, which draws its name from the co-founder Girard’s first name, will start delivering motorcycles to customers from its Vancouver headquarters in 2021, according to Kwong, with a starting base price of $24,995. 

A limited-edition model outfitted with premium components from Brembo and Ohlins will be available, and the brake and suspension suppliers for the regular base model have not yet been settled, he said.

In either case, the Hypersport will make a very interesting platform for the delivery of Damon’s CoPilot safety technology.

Image source: Damon Motorcycles

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

and-the-winner-of-the-most-unusual-oscar-swag-of-2020-is.

While only one nominee in the acting and directing categories of the Academy Awards will walk home with an Oscar—ties are very rare—winners and losers alike will receive a gift bag. This being Hollywood, the swag is lavish—last year’s gift bags had vouchers for a luxury cruise to the Galapagos Islands in the company of a private chef. In what is probably a first, this year’s bags will include a medical device that costs a fraction of most of the other gifts: The Peezy Midstream urine-collection device that dramatically reduces false positives and contaminated samples. Primary care physician Dr. Vincent Forte, the inventor of the device, hopes that the seemingly simple molded plastic part hobnobbing with luxe jewelry and artisanal cannabis-infused chocolates will draw attention to the slapdash approach to detection and treatment of urinary tract infections (UTIs) among women. The condition often goes undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or inaccurately treated because of hit-or-miss urine sample collection procedures, according to Forte.

The swag from Forte Medical will come with information on how women can learn more about the impact of UTIs. About seven million women in the United States alone contract the disease each year, according to the London-based company. “Urine is the window into your health. It’s the most common routine diagnostic procedure in medicine, yet there is no protocol for its collection,” said Forte Medical CEO Giovanna Forte. “We want to change the hearts and minds of policymakers and put this right.”

Peezy Midstream urine collection device
The Peezy Midstream urine-collection device dramatically reduces false positives and contaminated samples. Image courtesy Forte Medical.

Peezy Midstream reduced false-positive dipped urines by almost 70% at one British clinic, according to Forte Medical. The device also reportedly slashes specimen contamination to between 1 and 2.5%. The UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence said in May 2019 that Peezy Midstream “is the only urine collection method that meets Public Health England’s UK standards for microbiology investigation of urine.”

The UK company is opening a satellite office in Irvine, CA, one of the premier medtech hubs in the United States. The device is currently marketed in the United States and Canada by Owen Mumford.

I have to wonder: Will the unusual gift get a name-check during one of the acceptance speeches? And, not to diminish the value of the device, but aren’t you relieved that Ricky Gervais is not hosting the ceremony? One cringes at the prospect of what he might do with this material.

robots-reach-out-and-touch-ces-attendees

Robot makers put their new offerings on display at CES, showing how these mechanical devices interact with humans, from making pizza to reading emotions.

  • CES, robots, exoskeleton, Delta Air Lines, Sarcos Robotics

    The new robots at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) came is a variety of forms and uses, but a common theme throughout was the touch-worthiness of these machines.

  • CES, robots, exoskeleton, Delta Air Lines, Sarcos Robotics, ChuangChuang

    Cute Little ChuangChuang

    ChuangChuang, an intelligent service robot self-developed by Chuangze Intelligent Robot Group (a high-tech enterprise from China), showed off one of the cutest robots at CES. Entering the showroom of Chuangze Group, you could see their latest series of intelligent commercial service robots, intelligent companion robots, intelligent large-screen robots, and intelligent medical robot. (Image source: Chuangze Intelligent Robot Group)

  • CES, robots, exoskeleton, Delta Air Lines, Sarcos Robotics, ChuangChuang, sweeping robot, BONA

    BONA’s Sweeping Robot

    BONA Robots launched its own brand coayu, and launched a commercial sweeping robot BLNE01. The robot is equipped with an x-matching global navigation system. It was designed for complex and diverse indoor business environments with strong or weak light, strong or weak texture, and mapping technology. (Image source: BONA Robots)

  • CES, robots, exoskeleton, Delta Air Lines, Sarcos Robotics, ChuangChuang, PuduBot, food delivery robot

    Food Delivery Robots

    PuduBot and BellaBot serve as food delivery robots. Following positioning and navigation instructions from PuduSLAM algorithm, the robots will reach designated tables after the waiter chooses the correct table number for the trays. PuduBots are currently working at over 2,000 restaurants of different categories in 200-plus cities in more than 20 countries. In a year, million trays of food are delivered to customers, which is equivalent to 3,000 waiters working for a whole year. (Image source: PuduBots)

  • CES, robots, exoskeleton, Delta Air Lines, Sarcos Robotics

    The Guardian X0 by Delta Air Lines and Sarcos Robotics

    Delta Air Lines has partnering with Sarcos Robotics to create employee technology fit for a superhero – a mobile and dexterous exoskeleton designed to boost employees’ physical capabilities and bolster their safety. Delta employees have worked directly with Sarcos to determine potential operational uses for the Guardian XO. (Image source: Sarcos)

  • CES, robots, exoskeleton, Delta Air Lines, Sarcos Robotics, ChuangChuang, PuduBot, food delivery robot, Misty Robotics

    Play Misty For Me

    Misty Robotics, the creators of the Misty II platform robot, has launched the Misty as a concierge application template that provides developers with a robust starting point to build robot skills and quickly put Misty II to work. The Misty II application templates are open source code for developers to build upon and customize for a specific assignment or task. (Image source: Mysty Robotics)

  • CES, robots, exoskeleton, Delta Air Lines, Sarcos Robotics, ChuangChuang, PuduBot, food delivery robot, Misty Robotics, Cruzr

    Cruzr Comes to CES

    UBTECH showed off its newest robots, including the latest updates to Walker, the intelligent humanoid service robot and an autonomous indoor monitoring robot AIMBOT, enterprise service robot Cruzr, and award-winning JIMU Robot kits for kids. (Image source: UBTECH)

  • CES, robots, exoskeleton, Delta Air Lines, Sarcos Robotics, ChuangChuang, PuduBot, food delivery robot, Misty Robotics, Cruzr, pizza making robot

    Pizza Making Robot

    Seattle-based Picnic, a food production technology and Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) provider, displayed its automated food assembly system. The robotics system served pizza to attendees at CES. (Image source: Picnic)

  • CES, robots, exoskeleton, Delta Air Lines, Sarcos Robotics, ChuangChuang, PuduBot, food delivery robot, Misty Robotics, ITRI

    A Smart Arm And Emotion-Reading AI

    Taiwan’s ITRI demonstrated AI and robotics technologies that included the Mobile Arm Robot System, a smart integrated service robot platform combining mobility, sensing, manipulation, and human-machine interaction functions; and GenkiCam, an AI camera that can identify a baby’s emotions, monitor its heartbeat and breathing, and immediately inform parents of any abnormality. (Image source: ITRI)

  • CES, robots, exoskeleton, Delta Air Lines, Sarcos Robotics, ChuangChuang, PuduBot, food delivery robot, Misty Robotics, Cruzr, OMRON

    OMRON’s i4 Line Of Robots

    OMRON introduced a new line of SCARA robots with sleek design and enhanced performance. Named the i4, the new generation of SCARA robot is designed to save space during installation and allow easier configuration into existing production lines. (Image source: OMRON)

  • CES, robots, exoskeleton, Delta Air Lines, Sarcos Robotics, ChuangChuang, PuduBot, food delivery robot, Misty Robotics, FANUC

    FANUC Let Its Cobots Touch Attendees

    FANUC let CES attendees interact with its robots in a wide range of demonstrations and contests including a selfie station, a voice-activated gift selection, hand-guided robot programming, and speed and dexterity challenges. (Image source: FANUC)

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 19 years, 17 of them for Design News . Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

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 !

10-new-auto-tech-products-to-watch-in-2020

The year 2020 is bringing in a slew of innovative products set to transform vehicles themselves, as well as the automotive experience. Here are 10 products to watch.

  • Every year brings plenty of new vehicles, but there are also even more technologies behind those vehicles. Now more than ever technology companies are releasing new technologies to make vehicles safer, more connected, and more autonomous.

    Here are some new innovations – from chips, to headlights, and even sensors for infrastructure – that will be transforming vehicles in 2020 and the years to come.

  • Adasky Viper

    More and more engineers are coming to believe that autonomous vehicles should integrate thermal imagining and sensing capabilities into their sensor array. Adasky has released Viper, a long-wave infrared (LWIR) thermal camera system for autonomous vehicles and ADAS that integrates both an automotive-grade image signal processor and edge-based computer vision algorithms – allowing it to recognize vehicles, pedestrians, animals, and other objects on the road on its own.

    The ISO 26262 ASIL-B ready camera consumes less than 750mW of power, according to the company, and captures VGA images at up to 60 frames per second. Viper can also be integrated directly into vehicles’ headlights – reducing their visible footprint for automotive designers.

    (Image source: Adaksy)

  • Boréas Technologies BOS1211 Haptic Feedback Chip

    Haptic feedback is looking to become the next frontier in automotive interfacing. Touchscreens after all have some of the same disadvantages of a mechanical dashboard. Haptics would allow drivers and passengers easy control of dashboard functions with less distraction.

    Haptic technology developer Boréas Technologies, has announced the BOS1211, a low-power, high-voltage, piezoelectric driver integrated circuit for enabling high-definition haptic feedback in vehicle interfaces such as infotainment screens and steering wheels. Boréas is partnering with TDK to make the BOS1211 compatible with TDK’s PowerHap family of piezo actuators and to meet the standards of the automotive market.

    The BOS1211 is based on the company’s proprietary CapDrive technology, a scalable piezo driver architecture optimized for energy efficiency, low heat dissipation, and rapid response times. Boréas is planning to launch a plug-and-play development kit for automotive haptic feedback in February 2020.

    (Image source: Boréas Technologies)

  • Bosch 3D Display For Automotive

    Bosch captured a lot of attention at CES 2020 with a handful of new automotive new technology announcements. Among the company’s new offerings is a 3D display that uses passive multi-view 3D technology to generate three-dimensional graphics in a vehicle’s cockpit – without the need for 3D glasses or special cameras. Bosch says the 3D effect is visible for multiple people inside the vehicle from multiple angles without shaking or blurring and is adjustable to the user’s preference.

    The company believes its 3D displays can enhance safety by pushing important information and alerts right into a driver’s field of vision and reduce overall driver distraction.

    (Image source: Bosch)

  • Bosch Virtual Visor

    Bosch want to replace your car’s boring, traditional visor with a transparent LCD that can keep the sun out of your eyes without reducing your ability to see the road. The company’s Virtual Visor uses a camera that tracks the driver’s face and eyes and utilizes computer vision technology to only block the portion of the visor where the sun would be hitting the driver’s eyes – leaving the rest of the visor transparent. The result is more of a floating point effect in blocking the light, rather than having a chunk of your windshield completely blocked out.

    (Image source: Bosch)

  • Koito Manufacturing  BladeScan ADB

    High beams are an important safety feature. But we all hate that person who pulls up behind us or comes at us head-on with their high beams blazing.

    Koito Manufacturing‘s Adaptive Driving Beam (ADB) technology is a headlight upgrade that selectively dims and brightens areas of the road to improve driver visibility. Using a camera sensor that provides information to the headlight LEDs, the BladeScan ADB can selectively dim the high beams to low beams for oncoming traffic to prevent glare, for example.

    The BladeScan ADB creates what the company calls a “controlled, high-resolution photometry pattern” in front of the vehicle by emitting LED light onto rotating reflectors (“blades”) and then reflecting it at an angle and pulsing it on and off through a plastic lens and onto the roadway. Doing this the company says BladeScan minimizes the dimmed area in front of the vehicle and can increase the visibility of other vehicles, pedestrians, and other potential road hazards without causing annoying glare to surrounding vehicles.

    BladeScan ADB has already been integrated into the 2020 Toyota Lexus RX.

    (Image source: Kioto Manufacturing)

  • Outsight 3D Semantic Camera

    The 3D Semantic Camera from Outsight aims to “bring full situational awareness to smart machines,” according to the company. The Outsight camera is capable of detecting, tracking, and classifying objects with up to centimeter accuracy and relaying that information to other smart devices – including autonomous and connected vehicles. Utilizing a low-power, long-range broadband laser also allows the camera to identify material composition of objects via hyperspectral analysis under any lighting conditions – adding a new level of confidence to determining what the camera is seeing.

    The camera also uses 3D Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) technology for positional data. Outsight says its camera does all of this via edge-based processing through an onboard SoC that does not rely on machine learning. By taking a machine learning-free approach Outsight says it is able to reduce energy consumption and bandwidth needs and also eliminate the need for massive data sets to train the cameras.

    Outsight’s cameras will be deployed at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport. The company also offers a vehicle-specific version of its cameras.

    (Image source: Outsight)

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon Ride

    Chipmaker Qualcomm has unveiled the first generation of a new SoC targeted at autonomous driving. The Snapdragon Ride platform will come in versions focused on safety and autonomy respectively, with the aim of providing automakers a scalable solution designed to support Level 1 and 2 autonomy – with features including automatic emergency braking, traffic sign recognition, lane keeping assistance, automated highway driving, and self-parking as well as Level 4 and 5 full autonomy.

    The Snapdragon Ride SoCs are capable of performing 30 Tera Operations Per Second (TOPS) for Level 1 and 2 applications and up to over 700 TOPS for Level 4 and 5 applications and are designed for functional safety ASIL-D systems.

    Qualcomm says the platform will be available for pre-development to automakers and Tier-1 supplies in the first half of 2020. The first vehicles to utilize Snapdragon Ride are expected in 2023.

    (Image source: Qualcomm)

  • RoboSense RS-LiDAR-M1 Smart LiDAR

    RoboSense is releasing what it calls the world’s first smart solid-state LiDAR for autonomous vehicles. The company says its RS-LiDAR-M1 line of LiDAR products offer several advantages over mechanical LiDAR systems. The RS-LiDAR-M1 has a 120 x 25-degree field of view, a 15Hz frame rate, and a detection range of up to 150m at 10% NIST target. Its solid-state design also means fewer parts and a more modular design, making it easier for automakers to integrate and scale. In tests conducted by the company, Robosense reports that the RS-LiDAR-M1 met standards of performance for rain and fog and under different light and wind speed conditions and can adapt to all climatic and working conditions. The first version, the RS-LiDAR-M1Simple, is currently available.

    (Image source: RoboSense)

  • Siemens PAVE360 Automotive Digital Twin Platform

    Siemens has announced a new digital twin solution for the automotive industry. PAVE360 allows automakers and OEMs to simulate and validate automotive SoCs and other systems in the context of the vehicle, before the vehicle is built. Developed in collaboration with Arm, PAVE360 is able to model sensors, ICs, as well as other systems related to vehicle dynamics and the overall vehicle environment. Engineers can use the solution to create simulations for systems related to safety, ADAS, infotainment, digital cockpits, V2V and V2X, and even autonomous driving applications.

    (Image source: Siemens PLM)

  • Valerann Smart Roads System

    The emergence of smart cities is rapidly making infrastructure technologies as important as those inside of automobiles. Valerann has developed a sensor, the Valerann Stud, that can replace standard road pavement markers, transforming roads into an IoT sensor network. The solar-powered sensors use LoRA communication to relay information to each other and can track road conditions – including accidents and weather – in real time. The company says it can even track the exact driving pattern of every single vehicle on the road, right down to each vehicle’s specific lane location, in real time.

    The sensors also come equipped with LEDs and can change color to alert drivers of hazardous conditions such as ice, let them know to slow down or stop, and even indicate if they are driving in the wrong direction down a one-way road. The Valerann Smart Roads System is currently deployed various locations in the UK and Europe.

    (Image source: Valerann)

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

will-quantum-volume-be-the-next-moore’s-law?

This week at CES, IBM announced that its newest quantum computer, Raleigh, doubled its Quantum Volume (QV). This is important because the QV is a measure of the increasing capability of quantum computers solve of complex, real-world problems. But how does an increase in QV relate to existing measures such as semiconductor performance as dictated by Moore’s Law? Before answering that question, it’s necessary to understand what is really meant by a Quantum Volume.

QV is a hardware-agnostic metric that IBM defined to measure the performance of quantum computers. It serves as a benchmark to the progress being made by quantum computers to solve real-world problems.

QV takes into account a number of factors effecting quantum computations including qubits, connectivity, and gate and measurement errors. Material improvements to underlying physical hardware, such as increases in coherence times, reduction of device crosstalk, and software circuit compiler efficiency, can point to measurable progress in Quantum Volume, as long as all improvements happen at a similar pace, details the IBM website.

Raleigh reached a Quantum Volume of 32 this year, up from 16 last year. This improvement stems from an improved hexagonal lattice connectivity structure with improved coherence aspects.  According to IBM, the lattice connectivity had an impact on reduced gate errors and exposure to crosstalk.

Over the last year, a number of quantum computing achievements have been reached, notes IBM. Among the highlights was the offering of quantum computing services by a number of traditional cloud providers. Naturally, IBM was on that list. Other notables were Amazon, which in December 2019 first offered select enterprise customers the ability to experiment with quantum-computing services over the cloud.

The Amazon platform will let clients explore different ways to benefit from quantum computers by developing and testing quantum algorithms in simulations. For example, quantum computers could be used for simulating climate change, solving optimization problems, cybersecurity and quantum chemistry, among others. Clients will also have access to early-stage quantum-computing hardware from providers including D-Wave Systems Inc., IonQ Inc. and Rigetti Computing.

Now let’s see have the Quantum Volume measurement relates to transistor performance as delineated by Moore’s Law.

Image Source: IBM / Quantum Volume Growth Chart
how-to-choose-the-right-plastic-prototyping-method

What is the best prototyping method for a plastic product? Well, that depends. A panel discussion at Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) West in Anaheim, CA, next month will explore the various options and discuss the advantages and limitations of each. In advance of that Tech Talk session, panelist Michael Paloian, President of Integrated Design Systems Inc., shared his insights with PlasticsToday. An industrial designer and plastics engineer with hundreds of products under his belt, Paloian will be joined at the session, scheduled for Feb. 12 at 8:30 AM, by panelists Rick Puglielli, President, Promold Plastics; Albert McGovern, Director of Mechanical Engineering, Shure Inc.; and George Wilson, Senior Program Manager, ARRK Product Development Group USA. MD&M West, co-located with PLASTEC West, comes to the Anaheim Convention Center from Feb. 11 to 13, 2020.

young engineer

The panelists will discuss the use of 3D printing for prototyping, of course, but they will also delve into CNC machining, polyurethane casting, limited production runs of injection molded prototyping and other technologies, said Paloian. The best process ultimately depends on the designer’s objectives. He or she should ask the following questions before settling on a prototyping process, recommends Paloian.

  • What’s the purpose of the prototype—if it’s for show and tell, don’t bother spending a lot of money replicating details.
  • What’s the lead time? If you need something really fast, that will dictate the optimal process.
  • How large (or small) is the part?
  • What manufacturing process—injection or blow molding, thermoforming, extrusion—are you trying to replicate? That will have some effect on the prototyping process you select.
  • What are the tolerances, material properties, level of detail, quantities?
  • What are you intending to test or evaluate?

“If properties are a critical aspect of your evaluation and testing, CNC machining the part from a particular resin will give you a better indication of how the product will perform than 3D printing,” said Paloian. Don’t be misled by claims of material similarity. “If they tell you it’s similar to ABS or similar to PE, that leaves a lot of gray area. ‘Similar to’ means nothing,” stressed Paloian.

If you’re more interested in the structural behavior of a detail on a part—say, the front bezel of an ultrasound scanner—you could 3D print or machine that portion of the part and subject it to the loads to which it might be exposed, said Paloian. “But if you’re trying to evaluate the wear resistance of a material, for example, you really have to use the material in question, or your evaluations will be erroneous.”

But if your key goal is the best design replication at the lowest cost, it’s hard to beat 3D printing. Then the question becomes, which type of 3D printing?

The three most common platforms are selective laser sintering (SLS), stereolithography (SLA) and fused deposition modeling (FDM), according to Paloian, but SLS is fast becoming the preferred platform. “According to one survey, its market share in prototyping will almost triple over the next 10 years, from about 13% to 33%, while SLA and FDM will shrink.” Materials are playing a big role in that.

“SLA typically is based on a UV-cured acrylic or epoxy, and your properties are limited. There’s no way you’re going to replicate PP or PE with an SLA part,” said Paloian. “With SLS, you’re basically fusing together a powder, so you can use the actual resin, similar to FDM, for testing.” FDM, which Paloian likens to stacking Lincoln logs on top of each other to create the part, lacks resolution. “SLS gives you the best of both worlds—the fine resolution of SLA and the material selection of FDM,” said Paloian.

At the end of the day, understanding the pros and cons of each prototyping process will steer design engineers toward the best option for achieving their objectives. And that won’t always be 3D printing, added Paloian.

Image: Yakobchuk Olena/Adobe Stock

top-10-electronic-enabled-tech-highlights-from-ces-2020

Not all cool tech involved robots and autonomous cars. Here’s a list of the other electronic tech featured at the show.

  • This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020 featured a range of marvals enabled by electronic technologies covering application areas from smart cities, AI edge intelligence, body haptics, security systems, real-time accident reports, uncooled thermo cameras, wearables and more.

    Here are the top 10 products and technologies that piqued the interest of the Design News editorial staff.

  • Smart Cities

    Why do major Japanese car manufacturers like to build smart homes and now cities? Several years ago, Honda built a zero-net energy smart home in partnership with UC-Davis. At this year’s CES, Toyota announced it will build a smart city to test their AI, robots and self-driving cars. Toyota’s Woven City will be built at the foothills of Mt. Fuji in Japan. The city will be the world’s first urban incubator dedicated to the advancement of all aspects of mobility, claims Toyota.

    The project is a collaboration between the Japanese carmaker and the Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). Houses in Woven City will have in-home robotics to help with the more mundane tasks of daily life. The homes will have full-connectivity, which will be needed for the sensor-based AI to automate many household chores, like restocking the refrigerator and taking out the trash. Power storage units and water purification systems will be hidden beneath the ground.

  • Intelligence At The Edge

    Blaize is a computing company that optimizes AI at scale wherever data is collected and processed from the edge. The company enables a range of existing and new AI use cases in the automotive, smart vision, and enterprise computing segments. The company claims that developers can create new classes of products to bring the benefits of AI and machine learning to broad markets.

    The company has developed a fully programmable GSP architecture that utilizes task-level parallelism and streaming execution processing to take advantage of very low energy consumption, high performance and scalability. Blaize claims that, in comparison, existing GPUs and FPGAs exert a much higher energy price, while CPUs cost more and scale poorly, and all are subject to excessive latency due to their sequential execution processing architectures.

  • Full-Body Haptics Suit

    Haptics are all about the sense of touch. Now you can immerse your entire body – or at least 70 tactile points mainly around your torso – into the world of artificial experiences. The BHaptics Tacksuit provides an audio-to-haptic feature that converts sound into haptic feedbacks that are felt real time around your torso. For example, when a bomb explodes or you hear footsteps during a PC/VR game, you’ll feel the experience from the right direction. You’ll even be able to feel Samurai cuts and friendly hugs.

  • Security Comes In Many Forms

    There are many ways to protect your PC data and applications, from hardware encrypted portable storage devices, backup solutions, file repair software, and data recovery, to digital forensics services. SecureData provides both products and services in these areas. At CES, the company demonstrated a secure UBS drive which they claimed was the only hardware encrypted flash drive in the world with keypad and Bluetooth authentication.

  • Wireless Six-Degrees Of Freedom (6DOF)

    Atraxa’s system tracks 6DOF motion without the need for optical cameras or infrared markers to be placed around the room, or mounted externally to the XR headset or controller. And no line of sight—or wires—are required between the headset and controllers. Unhindered by wires or line-of-sight constraints, users can move freely in large spaces. Even move from room to room without any room mapping, or controller orienting (or reorienting) is required. Tracking starts immediately and lasts without interruption.

    The tech combines electromagnetic (EM) and inertial technologies into a single sensor-fusion tracking platform. The IMU (inertial measurement unit) returns acceleration and angular velocity data. The EM tracker delivers true position and orientation data; it also establishes the tracking volume and local coordinate system. Atraxa is comprised of two main components: a tracker module and receiver module. The tracker module houses the IMU and an EM transmitter coil that generates the magnetic field (i.e. the tracking volume). The tracker modules are embedded into the handheld controllers (or other peripherals).

  • Real-Time Accident Report

    Sooner or later, all of us get into an automotive accident. When that occures, wouldn’t it be great to have a record of what happened? Through the use of embedded acceleration sensors, MDGo generates a real-time report in the case of a car crash, detailing each occupant’s injuries by body region. The company’s technology enables accurate delivery of needed services and support by providing optimal medical care in the case of an emergency and supporting the claim process.

  • Smart Factory

    Could a factory think for itself or autonomously design a better car or aircraft? Can it eliminate waste? All of these questions fit into the realm of manufacturing intelligence. One company with experience in this area is Hexagon, claiming that their technologies are used to produce 85% of smartphones, 75% of cars and 90% of aircraft.

    Their Smart Factory approach aims to have fewer inputs, zero waste and high quality. All this is achieved through sensor, software and autonomous solutions that incorporates data feedback to improve work to boost efficiency, productivity, and quality across industrial and manufacturing.

  • A Cool “Uncooled” Methane Gas Detector

    The FLIR GF77 Gas Find IR is the company’s first uncooled thermal camera designed for detecting methane. This handheld camera offers inspection professionals the features they need to find potentially dangerous, invisible methane leaks at natural gas power plants, renewable energy production facilities, industrial plants, and other locations along a natural gas supply chain. The gas detector provides methane gas detection capability at roughly half the price of cooled gas inspection thermal cameras, to empower the oil and gas industry to reduce emissions and ensure a safer work environment.

  • IoT Arduino Adds LoRaWAN Connectivity

    You can now connect your sensors and actuators over long distances via the LoRa wireless protocol or throughout LoRaWAN networks. The Arduino MKR WAN 1310 board provides a practical and cost effective solution to add LoRa connectivity to projects  requiring low power. This open source board can be connected to: the Arduino IoT Cloud, your own LoRa network using the Arduino LoRa PRO Gateway, existing LoRaWAN infrastructure like The Things Network, or even other boards using the direct connectivity mode.

  • Wearables, Ingestibles, Invisibles

    One of the keys to a healthy life is nutrition. But what exactly constitutes ‘healthy’ food for a specific person? To answer that question, you need to measure and analyze the processes inside the complex human digestive system. Imec is working on prototype technology that is up to that task. It’s called ingestible sensors.

    The company also develops wearables for medical and consumer applications that enable reliable, continuous, comfortable, and long-term health monitoring & management. This includes high-accuracy & low-power biomedical sensing technologies sometimes embedded into fabrics.

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.