Aiming Wireless Power

We Explore PowerByProxi and Cota

by Bryon Moyer

Not long ago, we looked at wireless power. And we looked at some of the standards and conflicts underway as companies and technologies vie for best position. And it looked like a simple two-sided issue, with the eventual winner not yet clear.

Well, turns out there’s even more going on, some of it in places we rarely visit. I’ve run across two more wireless power stories, and they’re different from what we’ve seen and from each other. In an attempt to find a unifying theme as I bring them into the discussion, the common denominator seems to be their ability to “aim” their power at a device that needs charging.

Let’s back up, however, and start with a quick review.

 

An Open Sensor Platform

Sensor Platforms and ARM Propose Framework

by Bryon Moyer

It might just be the end of another lurch.

Technology doesn’t evolve in a smooth, continuous fashion. Someone has an idea for something totally new and makes it happen. And someone else sees that idea and thinks, “OK, that’s pretty cool, but I have a better way to do it.” And someone else looks on, shakes her head at the pitiful, primitive attempts underway and puts forth yet another approach that does its tricks even more efficiently and elegantly.

And so, from that original brainstorm comes a flurry of innovation. Each modification benefits from hindsight, having in hand the results of those that came before. This goes on for a while until some asymptote is approached and the activity level mellows out. And then, sometime hence, yet another new brainstorm occurs, and the process repeats.

 

Only A HeartBleed Away

Security in the Age of IoT

by Amelia Dalton

There’s a break in the wall. It’s tiny but it’s there. The water will seep through at some point, we know this. Will we be ready for the rising tide or will we flounder to find a patch to save the day? Security in our embedded systems is no longer an issue we can ignore and in this week’s Fish Fry, we get down to the heart of the matter with Alan Grau (President - Icon Labs). Alan and I chat about the rise of intrusion detection in RTOS-based systems and we address the challenges of providing security for Smart Home devices. Also this week, I rant about certain people I know not “believing” in IoT and the pains of IP integration.

 

New MIPS CPUs are Virtually Better

M5100 and M5150 Add Tasty Virtualization to the MIPS Recipe

by Jim Turley

If multiple CPUs aren’t enough for you, how about multiple operating systems on one CPU? That’s what virtualization is all about, and MIPS now offers it in its low-end range of embedded microprocessor cores.

The CPU company that’s part of Imagination Technologies recently rolled out two sibling processors for embedded designers who have the budget for SoC development. The new M5100 and M5150 CPU cores add virtualization to the already familiar MIPS 32-bit architecture.

The M in the product name tells you that these are comparatively low-end MIPS processor designs, as opposed to the midrange I-series or the performance-oriented P-series. If you’re still stuck on the previously (short-lived) product names, this would be a microAptiv, not an interAptiv or proAptiv. Got all that?

 

Google's Smartphone Revolution

Inside Project Ara

by Amelia Dalton

A coup d'état is imminent. A mobile revolution. With "Modular!" banners held high and money where their mouths are, Google is marching through the streets determined to overthrow the status quo in smartphone technology. This week’s Fish Fry is all about Google’s Project Ara - why it's cool, why you should care about this modular smartphone technology, and how you can get started designing your OWN modules. My guests are Ara Knaian (NK Labs) and David Rutledge (CTO - Lattice Semiconductor) and we are going to talk about what's inside the Google Ara phone, the important role of FPGAs, and why Ara lent his name to this super cool new project. Also this week, we take a tour of Xilinx’s Vivado IDE and break the biggest news to hit the EE airwaves.

 

Programming QuickLogic’s Sensor Hub

Hardware from a Software Standpoint

by Bryon Moyer

Well, it seems to be sensor hub season. A couple of interesting things are brewing. One, in particular, is of strategic significance, and I’ll be writing that up once I get a chance to dig into some more details.

For today, we’re going to go tactical rather than strategic: we’re going to dig deeper into QuickLogic’s sensor hub solution. And we’re going to get our hands dirty. If you read my earlier piece on sensor hub partitioning, you’ll recall that QuickLogic has a rather intricate implementation that puts much of the sensor hub functionality in FPGA hardware using a combination of low-level software, state machines, and outright hardware. Their claim is that they can achieve the lowest power this way – lower than a more common microcontroller implementation.

 

When Eight Is Enough

Microchip's 8-bit Challenge

by Amelia Dalton

There is a common assumption that innovation cannot be inspired in the world of 8-bit microcontrollers. If that is the case, then why haven’t they disappeared like the telegraph or the 8-track tape? Perhaps it's because we still need them and sometimes they are just what the doctor (or engineer as the case may be) ordered. In this week’s Fish Fry, I check out some cool new 8-bit MCUs from Microchip Technology with Greg Robinson (VP - Microchip Technology) and we dive down into the guts of these new 8-bit masterpieces - from the intelligent analog features to the digital pin placement capabilities. Also this week, we investigate how Israeli start-up StoreDot plans to revolutionize battery technology. (Hint: It includes chemically synthesized bio-organic peptide molecules!)

 

Attack of the Tiny Terrors

Microchip’s Small, Cheap PIC16 MCUs Prove There’s Life in 8-bitters

by Jim Turley

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the lab…

The chip designers at Microchip must have a lot of time on their hands. Either that, or the company keeps several design teams working in parallel. Whatever the process, these guys keep cranking out new microcontrollers faster than we can keep track of them.

Exhibit A is the new batch of 8-bit (sort of) MCUs called the PIC16something-or-other. There’s no point in trying to memorize Microchip’s part numbers because they never make any sense anyway. Like Mercedes-Benz, the company long ago passed the point where the naming system follows any rational progression. But if you’re doing a Google search, you’ll want to look up PIC16F1703 through PIC16F1719, or PIC16LF1703–19. Oh, never mind.

 

Mapping the Great Indoors

One Building at a Time

by Bryon Moyer

Car navigation technology has made amazing strides over the last decade. Heck, we may talk about a future of driver-less cars, but we already have navigator-less cars, with humans acting only as vehicular operators following the mindless turn-by-turn instructions of some disembodied Voice. Many drivers will freely admit that they’ve lost all innate sense of where they are or how to get anywhere without the assistance of the Voice.

Get out of the car, however, and things aren’t so straightforward – especially once we go under a roof. Part of it is the fact that we’re on foot instead of in a car, making it harder to track our location. But even more important is the fact that, indoors, we are no longer within the benevolent embrace of the GNSS (global navigation satellite system) systems. We’re like bees, with GPS as our queen: If we lose contact with the queen, then we’re lost.

 

Security, Safety, and IoT

Tales of the 2014 EELive Conference and Expo

by Amelia Dalton

We stormed the gates. We took no prisoners. Electronic engineering conferences will never be the same. EE Journal scoured this year's EELive Conference and Expo to bring you the the biggest trends, the coolest demonstrations, the best giveaways -- and this is just the beginning. In this week's Fish Fry, my guest is Matt Osminer, Director of Engineering at Cardinal Peak and the presenter of a special presentation at EELive called "Best Management and Technical Practices for Engineering an IoT Product". Michael and I chat about the unique challenges of designing connected products and investigate how (and why) management practices play a big role in designing for IoT. Also this week, I announce my top five highlights of this year's show - including details of Michael Barr's scary Tuesday keynote, some sugary delights at the Fantastical Theatre of Engineering Innovation and more.

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