Anyone who has read Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder or Eric Flint’s 1632 series knows about the Butterfly Effect. This is where small perturbations, like the flap of a butterfly’s wings, affects changes years later and far away.
2021 has had a lot of big butterflies these days, starting with general upheavals from Brexit to COVID-19 to attacks on the U.S. capitol and massive security breaches. Likewise, we have a raft of new technologies and products showing up.
Some of the latest are being highlighted at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), such as TDK’s compact, full-color laser module that targets applications like augmented-reality (AR) glasses (Fig. 1). Google Glass made ripples years ago because it was obvious who was wearing them. But will technology that makes them less apparent be sufficient to make them acceptable? Moreover, will the better resolution and lower power requirements make them more practical?
At Electronic Design, we present a wide range of technologies because this is what drives our industry, and 2021 looks to have even more on tap. Take battery-management systems (BMS) as an example. Battery packs for electric cars have used wires to tie in the sensors, which adds to cost, complexity, and reliability.
A wireless BMS (Fig. 2), such as those available from Analog Devices and Texas Instruments, flip the wired approach on its head, simplifying maintenance and system design. Of course, designers now need to consider radio communication within a Faraday cage, but that’s what we get paid for.
And if we build these solutions now, will our customers come?
That’s a harder question to answer these days, because things like the supply chain and sales chain have been impacted by the flutterings of COVID, Brexit, tariffs and so on. Video conferencing continues to improve, making technical collaboration easier. However, virtual tradeshows like CES show us how far we still need to go to make up for the isolation due to the pandemic.
Hopefully the fluttering of Electronic Design pages will cause some good effects in the future.