One of the best parts of Sensors Expo is getting to see new and interesting products, and getting to spend some time talking to the people who make them. While there were lots of neat sensors on display, I found a few especially memorable.
As I write this, the latest news on the financial front is the reaction to the $220 million in bonuses paid to executives at the bailed-out insurer AIG. Although the bonuses are a very small fraction (0.13%) of the $173 billion in public funds supplied to the insurer, it has been more than enough to ignite widespread public outrage. When Republican senators (Charles Grassley, R-Iowa) start calling for normally respectable businessmen to take a lesson from the samurai and either resign or go commit suicide, the situation on Wall Street has become pretty grim.
Living near Portland Oregon, the new self-proclaimed Green Capital of America, one hears a lot about how the new environmentalism is going to save the planet, the economy, and our immortal souls-all at the same time. Our homes will be powered by clean renewable energy, we will all be driving electric or bio-fueled cars, and everything we buy will be made from recycled, eco-friendly materials. The only thing standing between our evil unsustainable present and this future eco-topia are a few minor technological breakthroughs. And more studies, followed by punitive laws, and barrels of pork from the public coffers to make it all to happen.
War, recession, the presidential race-some days it doesn't pay to turn on the news. Amid our current environment of doom and gloom, however, there are a few bright spots, at least for people making sensors. There are significant industries that have been quietly growing amid the economic turmoil. And some of these industries might need to sense something.
This column usually focuses on prosaic and proven applications for circuits and sensors. This month, though, I am going to talk about an emerging field called evolvable hardware, which potentially has tremendous applicability to designing robust sensing and control systems.
In the original Star Trek series, DeForest Kelley played ship's surgeon Dr. Leonard McCoy. This character was especially memorable for his frequent medical pronouncement, He's dead, Jim, and for his handheld medical scanner, a device that looked like a pepper shaker with a spinning cap. This magical sensor could instantly and noninvasively diagnose any medical condition.
In a previous blog I shared some thoughts about outsourcing, and how I believe it to be a valuable tool for improving the effectiveness and productivity of your business. Like the Force, however, outsourcing can be used for both good and evil. Today I'll discuss some of its less savory aspects.
With the recent introduction of cheap ?? analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) offering resolutions of 24 bits or more, you'd think that the digital revolution is complete, and that the need for analog design has passed. Twenty-four bits gives you a resolution of better than 1 ?V on a 10 V span, so these high-resolution converters will make it easy to solve many interfacing problems with a minimum of additional circuitry.