Three Technologies that will Shake the CE World
The International Consumer Electronics Show 2012 lights up Las Vegas with a world of new products.
MechoTech has designed and experienced a lot of new consumer electronics over the years, but this years' CES showcased some very innovative products.
Motion processors harness microelectromechanical system sensors to ascertain not only the orientation of a device, but also its heading and absolute location in three-dimensional space. Fusing the data streams from accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers (compasses) and altimeters (barometric pressure sensors) allows almost anything to be tracked. Gestures can control hardware (from game consoles to vehicle navigation systems) or inform software (from security protocols to location-based services, or LBS).
Once suitcase-sized devices, MEMS inertial sensors are now small enough, inexpensive enough and low-power enough for deployment in even the tiniest mobile devices.
Overnight, MEMS inertial sensors have become standard for everything from drop detection to gesture recognition. Smart TVs are also upgrading to MEMS-laden remotes that more accurately control on-screen cursors by virtue of motion-processing algorithms.
Computing on graphics processing units, or "GPU compute," certain computations traditionally handled by a system CPU or application processor are offloaded to the GPU. The addition of programmable pipelines, schedulers and floating-point precision to the graphics rendering pipeline enables GPU-compute technology.
That's changing with the introduction of APIs and parallel-capable programming languages such as CUDA, DirectX compute, OpenCL, OpenGL Shading Language and Renderscript compute.
Offloading inner parallel loops of programs from the CPU to the GPU can improve performance and save power. The ability of the GPU to lower power consumption, as well as to influence the look and feel of displays, the responsiveness of games and the user interface, makes it potentially more important than the CPU.
Applications already being computed on GPUs include the physics of moving objects as part of scene calculation prior to rendering; applications that can benefit from GPU compute include math functions, 2- and 3-D field solvers, simulators, encryption, sorting and alignment, and some database functions.
Google Android will be the software platform that will enable many of the most interesting and diverse devices to emerge in electronics. For decades, the industry has sought-usually in vain-a common base of free, open-source software.
Google's Android has come closer than anything in the past to fulfilling the dream. As ARM-based processors strengthen their processing punch, Android will emerge as an operating system for notebooks and PCs.
In smartphones, Android has already surpassed Apple's iOS and other alternatives in shipments. Its broad support among handset makers is its best guarantee of a robust and long life for use in all systems. Google's recent work to merge tablet and smartphone variants in version 4.0, called Ice Cream Sandwich, has put the codebase on a solid footing, at least for the moment.
Touch-based human-machine interfaces took the electronics market by storm in 2011, but touch-free interfaces are growing fast.
Touch-free human interfaces debuted commercially with the Xbox Kinect, based on PrimeSense Ltd.'s platform, whose infrared emitters and detectors can recognize human gestures made in midair. A host of other camera-based touch-free human interfaces are being readied for 2012, including a Microsoft solution acquired last year from Canesta Inc.
Microsoft is slated to introduce a family of IR-based human-gesture interfaces for mobile devices based on the Canesta IR chip's use of pixel-level time-of-flight calculations to deduce the distance to any object in a scene, regardless of lighting, occlusion by other objects or blending-of objects with the background.
FlashScan3D is already using TI's LightCrafter in a technology that can read fingerprints without requiring touch. Many more applications are promised this year.
MechoTech provides engineering design and new product development services for consumer electronics as one of our four main areas of expertise. Contact MechoTech at (949) 215-7270, or visit www.MechoTech.com for more information.
Founded in 2002, MechoTech is a product development and engineering services company based in southern California. We manage full product development cycles from concept to design and production. MechoTech provides complete support for all steps in product innovation and process to supplement each client's internal resources on an as needed bases, on time and on budget.
With over 25 years of experience in the data storage and computer industry, I bring a wealth of knowledge in product design and development in consumer electronics and medical devices. I hold a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering from USC, an Engineering Degree from UC Irvine and achieved a Management Program Certification from Stanford University.
To discuss how MechoTech can assist you in your next project, please contact Moe Sarraf, CEO /President, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (949) 215-7270.
The Convergence of Electronics and Medical Device Information
One of the most significant trends we see in the medical industry is the growing adoption of the same electronic design strategies and components that have propelled the remarkable growth of the consumer electronics, telecom, and datacom industries in recent years. Designers of new and
emerging diagnostic, imaging, surgical, and therapeutic equipment are leveraging advanced connector technologies to engineer an amazing array of cutting-edge healthcare products.
Electronic Medical Devices
In today's world of medicine, it's easy to understand why the convergence of electronics and medical devices is escalating so rapidly. With healthcare costs steadily rising, there is increasing reliance on patient-administered home healthcare devices, such as blood pressure monitors, blood glucose monitors, insulin pumps, and other monitoring and therapeutic devices critical to reliable, high-quality patient care.
On the healthcare practitioner side, there is an increased need and demand for telemedicine, in which diagnostic images and test results can be transmitted between medical professionals in seconds via broadband networks, to enable rapid, potentially life-saving decision making.
Similarly, electronic monitoring equipment of every kind is playing an extremely important role, whether deployed in hospitals, in home-based devices, or systems designed to serve elderly, chronically ill, and disabled patients. In the pursuit of greater precision, efficiency, and improved patient outcomes, more hospitals and surgeons across all medical specialties are adopting robotic, laser-based, and assistive surgical devices built on advanced computer and fiber optics technologies.
One simply has to consider the incredible growth of smart phone medical apps offerings. Smartphones are definitely changing healthcare for both consumers and providers alike and even creating a new crowd bsed medical services marketplace. A recent California Healthcare report highlights many of these new innovative products and services and developing trends.
We are reaching the point where virtually every medical device today is built on electronics, in one form or another. Examples include:
- Diagnostic and Imaging Equipment, such as MRI, ultrasound, and PET/CT scanners.
- Hospital and Patient Care Equipment, such as beds, wheelchairs, lifts, rehab and fitness equipment.
- Therapeutic and Surgical Equipment, such as defibrillators, infusion pumps, pacemakers and hearing aids.
- Patient Monitoring Equipment, such as ECG/EEG machines, blood pressure monitors and pulse oximeters.
Embedded Components and Interconnects
The effectiveness and reliability of healthcare devices and systems rely on the robust design, engineering, and performance of their underlying electronics. Particularly important is the performance of the switches, user interface, and interconnect components that activate and transmit the signals that enable the equipment to perform as expected.
User Interface Keypads/Switches
User interface keypads or membrane switches provide an excellent value-to-performance ratio for medical equipment manufacturers. They not only provide functional performance, but also are the "badge" on medical equipment, and one of the few user touch points. Membrane switches available today include applications with embedded LEDs, dome arrays, silicone rubber keypad assemblies, and multi-language options. Capacitance touch screens offer optimum visual contrast with sensitivity, even through surgical gloves.
The latest mega-trend in the medical industry is miniaturization and microminiaturization of interconnects, such as those used in portable and patient-wearable devices. There are many examples of devices that, a decade ago, were built only for use in hospitals or clinics, and are now portable and even wireless, making them affordable and convenient for patients to use at home.
Optical fiber cables are increasingly replacing traditional copper cables for improved digital imaging and diagnostic applications. Fiber optic components provide higher speeds and increased bandwidth, improve the image quality, and ensure a more reliable signal without distortion. Optical cables eliminate ground loops and EMI/RFI, providing better clarity on video displays for MRI and X-ray imaging. This has influenced the healthcare market's evolution from diagnostics to prevention, and this trend is reflected in the design complexities and capabilities of today's sophisticated medical equipment.
MechoTech is a leader in new product development and engineering design services for the medical device industry as one of our four main areas of expertise. Contact MechoTech at (949) 215-7270, or visit www.MechoTech.com for more information.
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