Successful Endeavours - Electronics Designs That Work!
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We Moved

That’s right. After 7 great years of growth and making a difference to the local manufacturing economy, we ran out of room. So it’s good bye to lovely Berwick Village and hello to Narre Warren.

Our new address is:

Suite 4, Level 1, 58 Victor Crescent, Narre Warren VIC 3805.

And we have a new phone number: 03 9796 0365

Successful Endeavours - 58 Victor Crescent

Successful Endeavours – 58 Victor Crescent

Above is a shot of the front of the building. Parking is in the rear and below you can see the 7 spots available for staff and visitors. Signage will happen in the next week or so.

Successful Endeavours - Parking

Successful Endeavours – Parking

Once you get inside the building (doors at front and rear) you take the lift to the first floor and then head along the corridor to your right and round the bend to the left. There will be signage on the front glass doors.

And here are some inside shots.

Just before the fit out was complete.

Successful Endeavours - Inside - Fit Out Nearly Complete

Successful Endeavours – Inside – Fit Out Nearly Complete

First load of furniture arrives on Saturday.

Successful Endeavours - Inside - First Furniture Delivery

Successful Endeavours – Inside – First Furniture Delivery

After the final load of furniture arrives and is assembled.

Successful Endeavours - Inside - Furniture Delivered

Successful Endeavours – Inside – Furniture Delivered

Monday morning we move the furniture into place and start setting up.

successful Endeavours - Inside - Up And Running

successful Endeavours – Inside – Up And Running

And by Monday lunch time and we are operational again.

Australian Manufacturing Continues To Grow

I’m really looking forward to being able to build the team and do more product development for manufacturers in Australia. Australian manufacturing has grown every month for the past 17 months so this isn’t just us, there are lots of other businesses growing; something I am particularly pleased to be able to report. It continues the trend I wrote about in July 2016 in Australian Manufacturing is Growing.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Digital Tomorrow is Today

The most recent Casey Cardinia Business Group breakfast heard from Chris Riddell, futurist. This is a summary of what he said.

Chris Riddell - Futurist

Chris Riddell – Futurist

The future is already here. The digital revolution has happened. So what about tomorrow?

This is the question Chris posed to the room at the start of his presentation.

Chris asserts that the technological revolution has already happened. Now it is Velocity that counts. So what does Velocity mean?
In Software Development, Velocity refers to the rate with which you are completing a project. If Velocity is too low, you will not finish on time. Ideally Velocity is above the original planned value and you will deliver ahead of schedule. At the very least, this allows you time to test comprehensively. Projects running late often compromise on test in order to save time. This tactic usually adds time in the long run.

His first example was OTTO. This is a start-up of ex Google employees who are developing self-driving track technology that can be retrofitted to existing trucks. So you don’t need to design a new vehicle, you can add their system to your existing fleet. They have early adopted product in the market (delivering beer via self-driving trucks) and hope to be fully market ready in 9 months. And uber bought OTTO. This rapid time to market is an example of the increasing Velocity available today.

OTTO self-driving truck

OTTO self-driving truck

A local example we are working with is Maintabase. This is a Melbourne based start-up that came to us 2 months ago with some “off the shelf” hardware to try and configure it as a demonstration of their asset management concept where you can monitor machine cycle and operating time automatically and identify when maintenance points will be reached. Like OTTO, this can be retrofitted to any existing machine. They were trying to use “off the shelf hardware” for good reason; low development cost. However the hardware was difficult to configure and use, not very flexible, and ultimately not what they wanted in a final product. It was never going to do what they needed and was only ever an interim measure. So we created the product they need and they are launching it at Future Assembly in the IoT Category. See Future Assembly – IoT – Maintabase for more details. So idea to launch in 8 weeks!

Maintabase

Maintabase

And then there is Tesla who have reinvented the modern passenger automobile and already offer autonomous cars.

Tesla

Tesla

And now a medical example. 23 and Me will send you a DNA kit. You provide a saliva sample in the test tube they provide. They then send you a detailed report describing your genetic ancestry, what health issues you will expect have in the future and even what kind of children you will have with your partner (you need 2 samples for that). This was banned in the USA due to concerns about how to regulate it so they moved to Europe and launched there. Now they are also able to operate in the USA. 5 years ago a service like this would have been prohibitively expensive. Now it is a very affordable tool to allow you to manage your life better.

23 and Me - Welcome to You

23 and Me – Welcome to You

We also see the huge burst of activity in Wearables that allow you to quantify things like quality of sleep, activity level and a whole range of health and other indicators. The Quantified Self requires measurement and these devices do a good deal of that already.

Lean Digital Start-Up

Computing technology is also changing so rapidly that you can do a hugely scalable start-up in a shed. This is technology going full circle. HP started in a shed. So did Google and Apple. The shed may become the new business launch model.

This allows a new class of business opportunities lumped under the banner of the Lean Start-Up. I’ve added “Digital” to the mix because there is a lot of emphasis now on being able to scale quickly. So we have the Lean Digital Start-Up. So low investment, low risk, potentially huge upside, potentially scalable. The failure rate of Lean Digital Start-Ups is unfortunately also huge. About 25 times the failure rate of conventional businesses. The risk due to failure is much lower and they can pivot rapidly. This is Agile applied to the Business Model.

Old world businesses are like huge plantations and have a specific focus and everything is about optimising that focal point. By comparison, the new business paradigm is like hacking your way through a rain forest looking for a breakthrough plant or animal that holds the cure to something incurable. The latter is a much more chaotic process and results are unpredictable.
Access to technology means that even mobile phone calls and SMS are old hat and is all about video, high speed data sharing and experience.

The Future – What Next?

BMW have just celebrated 100 years in business. That is a great achievement. If you go back 50 years, it was all about the product, the technology, the reliability. Today it is all about the experience. And they are talking about selling transportation services rather than vehicles in 10 years time.

Super Fluidity is now the norm. You can transfer data almost instantly to anywhere in the world. Today you can design a product , send the file somewhere else on the planet and have it 3D printed . You can now 3D print food. Oreos can be custom designed by you and then made for you and shipped to your address.

Why is Google self driving cars happening? Google do search and other data stuff. The answer from Google is that a driver-less car is a mechanical problem that needs an information solution. And Google are an information solution company.

Why is Lego still in business? It is a plastic block. Easy to copy and many have done it. Yet today they are the most influential toy company in the world. Everything is about the user. You can design your own kit, select the blocks, buy it and have it delivered to your door. You can build it on screen, have it 3D rendered and sent to your device to show or share with your friends.

Apple have enough cash on their books to pay out Greece’s national debt 3 times over and still run their business for a year even with no sales. And they did it by making their product easy to use and putting a full ecosystem together to support the user.

Air bnb, uber, Spotify and many other companies are leveraging great user experiences and offering great value.

We are headed into an era of no screens, augmented reality and where the world is your screen and data is your overlay.

Pretty exciting times lay ahead as we catch up with the capability the Digital Revolution already lays before us.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

IoT Security

The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a pivotal component of the future and is driving initiatives from Smart Cities through Ubiquitous Computing and Augmented Reality. Of course the next step up from Smart Cities is a Smarter Planet. But we aren’t at Smart Cities yet.

An enabling technology like IoT can also have roadblocks to adoption. The principal ones being addressed now are:

  • power consumption
  • cost of goods
  • size
  • security

The biggest issue right now is IoT Security. Recent DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks have used IoT Devices as the attack launchers. They are being selected because many have weaker security than fully fledged computing devices.

DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service

DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service

In a recent article on IEEE Spectrum on the Path to IoT Security it is argued that IoT Manufacturers must take responsibility and not leave it up to end users. There is also a role of industry standards however no clear set of standards have yet been agreed. So although 2016 is the Year of IoT, with this being the single biggest category of product shipped, it is still very early days where things like IoT Security and IoT Interoperability are concerned.

IoT Security versus Software Security

This is not a new dilemma. Software Security is always important and it becomes increasingly important as Internet Communicating IoT Devices become more widespread. One apparent assumption underlying all this is that an IoT Device must be a fully IP Stack capable platform. That is not necessarily the case. In the video I shared about our Water Metering Remote Telemetry project one thing I didn’t mention is that the data stream is all driven from the IoT Device. There is nothing to log into. You can’t patch it with a Windows, Linux or other OS patch to override its function. It is not capable of being used in a DDoS attack because you can’t get to anything in it that can do that. So it is inherently secure against that form of risk.

Internet of Things Cconnectivity

Internet of Things Connectivity

However there are other risks. Nick Hunn has an insightful piece on Wireless Security for IoT where he argues that we are declaring security is present while having no evidence of proving it. That article is a little dated but the basic tenets still seem to apply. Just because a manufacturer or industry alliance states they have addressed security, it doesn’t make it automatically true.

So IoT Security is Software Security with the added component of protecting the physical hardware.

IoT Security in the Future

We still don’t have standards, so for now, individual device manufacturers and alliance members will need to ensure they have adequate security out of the box. The level of security required is determined by the importance of the data, either its security against unauthorised access, or its integrity against falsification. And at the asset level, its proof against either being disabled or used as an attack vector.

As an example, I am personally not so concerned if a hacker can find out how much electricity use my smart meter is reporting. Unless they get time of day usage and can correlate with other data sources to work out in advance when we aren’t home so they can rob us. My energy provider probably cares more about this data for all its customers coming into a competitors hands. Or maybe not. But I do care that I don’t get an outrageous bill because they were able to send fake data for my account to a server.

And energy grid managers care about usage data and Smart Meter appliance management being used to crash an entire electricity grid!

In the case of the Water Metering Remote Telemetry project I care that it remains online and working because otherwise someone will have to travel a long way to fix it. We have a facility in Gilgandra that is 892Km away as the crow flies. It will take a full day to get there and then another to back again. So I want it to be proof against some hacker disabling its communication ability. Since it has a physical antenna, I do care about that being hard to break. So some of these devices are put above normal reach and everything is inside a secure plastic case including the antenna. And our customer wants to know the reported water usage is correct. This means no missing data, and no incorrect data. They use the data to bill their customers.

One simple way to mess up data is a Replay Attack. If you can intercept and copy a data transmission, then you can play back that transmission any time you want to. You don’t even have to understand the content, the encryption, anything. Simply capture a HTTP POST or GET and replay it. Why does this matter? Because if the data transmitted is the volume of water used since the last report, then every time you play it back, you add to someone’s water bill. Or you distort the level of water the system believes is in a tank or reservoir. You can protect against these attacks in a number of ways but you have to consider the need to protect against them first of all.

There is a large volume of material on this topic. Here are some additional articles you might find useful for broadening your perspective on this topic:

I’m sure you won’t find it hard to search out a lot more articles. Just consider this. Once it has an Internet connection, any device can access anywhere in the world. And most firewalls protect against incoming attacks. A corrupted device on the inside can get out any time it wants to.

Internet of Things Global Reach

Internet of Things Global Reach

And if you want a really interesting view of what this could be like 10 years from now, I recommend reading Rainbow’s End by Vernor Vinge. Enjoy. And this isn’t my first reference to this book because I think it is fairly prescient in its exploration of a most probable future.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

DSLR or Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera

Ignoring the play on words, the light camera is a major breakthrough in the use of multiple optical viewpoint cameras to create synthetic images that can be taken with something the size of a smart phone and rivals DSLR Camera photographs.

And spoiler alert, I’m getting one as soon as I can. Read on to find out why.

I enjoy photography and appreciate the balance between the size and convenience of my phone camera and the control and quality of image possible in my DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera.

Lets look at how a DSLR camera works. This image is by en:User:Cburnett – Own work with Inkscape based on Image:Slr-cross-section.png, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link.

Single Lens Reflex Camera Cross Section

SLR Camera Cross Section

The photographer can see the subject before taking an image by the mirror. When taking an image the mirror will swing up and light will go to the sensor instead.

  1. Camera lens
  2. Reflex mirror
  3. Focal-plane shutter
  4. Image sensor
  5. Matte focusing screen
  6. Condenser lens
  7. Pentaprism/pentamirror
  8. Viewfinder eyepiece

For a Film SLR camera the sensor is the film. For the DSLR Camera the sensor is a digital image sensor CCD or Charge Coupled Device. These cameras use precision ground lenses and are capable of high levels of control and image quality. They also don’t fit in your pocket unless you have a very large one.

The Light Camera

Light - a new camera concept

Light – a new camera concept

I am very grateful to Dr Rajiv Laroia who co-founded Light. Not only has he developed a breakthrough concept in portable digital photography, but he has been very open about how he went about it and how it works. This is an excellent example of the new Collaboration landscape we now work in. He took his idea to experts to validate it rather than hiding it and hoping no-one would steal it.

IEEE Spectrum have a very detailed article Inside the Development of Light which outlines the whole journey. There are several stand out points here:

  • he solved a problem he had – it represented a practical need he understood
  • he got expert advice early
  • it required a significant shift from the best of breed technology in place now
  • he knows his first version is just that
  • there is a long term product strategy in place
  • he is teaching the world how to do it so that he has first mover advantage rather than a monopoly

The last point is interesting for me. The days of monopolies are coming to an end. The days where a Brand could overcome deficiencies in an offering aren’t yet over but they are fading. Today you can source reviews from peers and industry forums and a Brand can’t as easily dominate a market just by reputation or marketing blurb. The products have to be as good as the Brand claims they are.

Dr Rajiv Laroia - cofounder of Light

Dr Rajiv Laroia – co-founder of Light

So back to Light. Dr Rajiv Laroia has started something we will all benefit from. The concept is brilliant and the results and funding are in place to make is commercially successful.

Will we see it in a smart phone soon?  I can see cut down versions of this concept being deployable in the very near future. The processing power is the challenge in a low power hand held device that is also doing cellular communications. So battery life versus quick availability of the finished pictures is the trade-off right now.

Is it doable in the long run? Absolutely!

Light in Action

Here are some videos covering the development journey, the first commercial version and the use of the camera.

 



Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Mechanisms

Mechanisms are important in many aspects of modern life. They adjust the focus on your smart phone camera, put the wheels down when a plane is coming in to land, allows automobiles, trains, trucks and ships to move and even allow probes to roam about on the surface of Mars.

So I was very surprised to learn that a newly developed rotary gear mechanism, or transmission,  is the first major new gear design since 1957!

Abacus Gears

Lets cut straight to the chase and I’ll then back fill details later on.

Abacus Gear Mechanism

Abacus Gear Mechanism

The Abacus Gear Mechanism uses a series of rolling elements that move through a series of shaped channels that changes the rolling radius as the mechanism rotates. The results is a gear ratio between the inner driving hub and the out rotating hub. Sound complicated?

I guess this is why it has taken over 60 years to come up with the revolution. However there are some serious pluses. The contact points are all pure rolling elements unlike conventional gear teeth where some sliding motion (causing to wear) is involved. This should lead to improved gear life. It also has no backlash. This is ideal for robotics where backlash (the loss of motion when changing rotational direction on a gear due to clearances) is a big problem for keeping a precise knowledge of the position of the object under motion (a pickup arm for instance). And the rolling elements and the channels they roll in can be adjusted in shape. So although the first version, named “Abacus” because the shape of the rolling elements resembled the beads on an Abacus, had one shape of rolling element, the invention is not limited to that and the elements could be spheres.

And all of the above leads to another major benefit. It is significantly more efficient than the Harmonic Drive which was invented in 1957 and is the leading contended for robotics gears today.

There is a detailed article including a video on IEEE Spectrum at Abacus – First New Rotary Transmission in 50 Years.

The Harmonic Drive

Here is an animation of the Harmonic Drive.

Harmonic Drive

Harmonic Drive in motion

This is pretty cool as a drive concept and also has no backlash.

Mechanical Gear Fundamentals

If you to know a little more about gears and the wide variety of uses they are put to, check out this video.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Schools Today

The modern school as we know it was designed to provide workers for the expanding paradigm of the Industrial Revolution. That is, the first Industrial Revolution. We are now up to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as Industry 4.0. So how well are we doing 3 Industrial Revolutions later?

Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0

First of all, lets look at the positives. Basic education has been an overwhelming success. A foundation level of literacy, numeracy and essential mathematics skills has served us really well for several generations. And it will continue to though the need for it is reducing because so much of our modern world does a lot of this for us. This is of course the developed world. We still have a third of the planet living in abject poverty and that is a challenge in itself. But the baseline education we all get at primary school works for the vast majority of people. I know there are exceptions who have both physical and intellectual challenges but it works on the whole.

So where is the issue?

Applied Learning

The real issue is when we start to get past basic education, the foundation we all benefit from, and start to move into Applied Learning or Interest Based Learning. Someone who is going to be a brilliant dancer might not benefit so much for advanced mathematics training. So we already allow for this in course selection. By VCE and the like there is a lot of selection going on. The same at University.

The issue comes back to what we are preparing students for. Funding policy drives a lot of decisions. You can’t keep a school open if the subjects you teach or how you teach them are not aligned with the funding model. You may not even get a sick bed or enough toilets (yes I know of one example of this)! And at present. we don’t seem to have governments with a strong view to to doing anything in schools except exclude faith and culture based learning and enforce the idea that alternative sexual orientations are preferred. At least this is how it looks to the community. And all this means we are not equipping students for the Jobs of the Future or the Industries of Tomorrow (or even today in many cases).

I present to Secondary Schools and Universities including MBA programs and recently to a Primary School. Schools matter. So it is time to start fixing a broken system. And it isn’t teachers and principals I am talking about here, it is funding policy.

Universities are funded based on peer reviewed papers and student numbers by class type. There is no requirement for either to be industry relevant. This has been the case for a while and we now find ourselves where this funding policy leads:

  • Australia has the lowest rate of publicly funded research commercialisation in the world
  • Australia has the lowest rate of academia to Industry engagement in the world

Put differently, the currently funding put into public research and academia structures is failing completely. The model is broken. And I’ve heard this repeatedly for the past half a decade so it isn’t just me.

Some other indicators that this is the case.

According to figures published by CEDA, The Committee for Economic Development of Australia40% of currents jobs will disappear is a decade.

Digital Readiness

Yet Digital Literacy in Australia continues to decline as the rest of the world gets ready for the next round of jobs and value creation while we fall behind. Everyone agrees that this is the wave of the future. But no action. The last policy discussion was in 2008!

Some references:

The latter has this graph of our current ranking in Digital Competitiveness (we used to be known as the country of early adopters).

Australian Digital Competitiveness

Australian Digital Competitiveness

I hope you notice that the most competitive economies in the world are also the most digital ready! Check out the Global Competitiveness Report summarised on Wikipedia to see the relativities. This is also why the current destruction of the capability of the NBN, or National Broadband Network, looks like economic sabotage when you consider how it is going to limit jobs growth potential and further stifle Digital Readiness.

It isn’t like this problem is new or not understood. It seems the current policy split is between:

  • if it costs money you can’t have it because we can’t afford it
  • protecting the borders is more important than ensuring there is something worth protecting inside them
  • lets redesign our social fabric because we can

Yes I know I have shown them in extreme profile, but this is where these ideas ultimately end up. And none of them are in the interest of Australia’s long term future. I don’t think being Digital Ready for the Future is restricted to a single gender, ethnic group or demographic nor mandated or precluded by your faith background or sexual orientation or any of a large number of other factors.

Tomorrows jobs will be created by the workers, not companies“. Ray Keefe 2016.

You will see a similar quote below for primary schools. But this is the new paradigm. It is already here. This isn’t tomorrow. This is now. What is a Lean Digital Startup? It is creating your own job!

So this has been a long post already but there is one more element I want to share. And this is an initiative which I am hoping will be able to make a difference.

Tech Schools

No this is not a nostalgic return to the past, just using the same name for a very new approach.

I am pleased to announce that the Casey Tech School Strategic Charter was signed last week. I am one of 2 Industry Representatives involved in the process. Hopefully this will grow significantly once the foundations have been firmly established. And this same process is happening in other regions of Victoria.

So if they are reusing the name, what are they now using it for?

The Casey Tech School will use funding from the Victorian State Government to establish an advanced learning center to augment existing schools. This will include Digital Ready learning opportunities and will support student interest learning and not just a fixed curriculum. The details of how to get this high leverage education facility interfaced with existing school activities is still to be worked out. But the core idea is that if there isn’t enough money for every school to do this independently, then spend one lot of money and let every school take advantage of it.

Here are a couple of photos of the event.

Casey Tech School Charter Signed

Casey Tech School Charter Signed

 

Successful Endeavours Support the Casey Tech School

Successful Endeavours Support the Casey Tech School

And this isn’t the only interesting school initiative going on right now.

Primary Schools Step Up

As an example of where primary school teaching is going, I was recently involved in a Mini-Mart run by Dandenong Primary School. The Grade 5 students did a survey of the grade 3 and 4 students to determine goods they could design, build and sell to them. There were rules covering design elements, what constituted a sufficient offering and even things like Warranty. Then they made the goods, set up stalls, and in a series of waves tried selling to the same grade 3 and 4 students they had surveyed.

Brilliant.

And in between waves, they got advice on OH&S, selling and influencing techniques  from a teacher who could have been presenting to an MBA program. I had to wait another 40 years after my Primary School experience before I got training in business skills as good as this.  Needless to say, I was very impressed and it made me wonder why we aren’t doing this across the board.

Mini-market moguls

Dandenong Primary School’s Grade 5 and 6 students have explored the process of creating, producing and marketing their own products.
The students hosted a mini-market as part of their school studies, surveying students from Grade 3 and 4 to see what products would sell and then competing to see who could sell the most.

“These children are going to have to invent their own jobs…”

The result was an impressive array of fun and appealing items from bookmarks and fridge magnets to squishy balls and multi coloured slime.

The event was supported by four local employers who judged each team on their product design and quality, stall design and customer service.

Ray Keefe from Successful Endeavours was joined by Anthony Di Battista from Hilton Manufacturing, Marcus Barber from Looking Up Feeling Good and Chelsie Dickson from Cirque Design.

“These children are going to have to invent their own jobs so it’s great they’re thinking about this very important challenge now,” Mr Keefe said.

Dandenong Primary School looks set to produce some impressive entrepreneurs of the future if the
success of this project is anything to go by.

Community News – The City – November 2016

 

Jobs of the Future

Jobs of the Future

And if you want a really interesting view of what this could be like 10 years from now, I recommend readings Rainbow’s End by Vernor Vinge. Enjoy. Its not just the education component, its the whole idea that jobs just wont exist any more!

Rainbows End - Vernor Vinge

Rainbows End – Vernor Vinge

Rainbow End : Fair use

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

LED Street Lighting

With concern for rising global emissions and the majority of the worlds power still generated by burning fuels of one kind of another, the replacement of older street lighting technologies with higher efficiency and longer life LED Street Lighting would appear to make sense. And on the up side, everyone agrees that the longer life of the LEDs compared to other lighting technologies is a huge plus.

However, it turns out to be not as simple as that. In LED Streetlights Are Giving Neighborhoods the Blues the author, Jeff Hecht, points out a few other issues to consider. The picture below graphically demonstrates one of them.

Modern Street Lighting - Aerial View

Modern Street Lighting – Aerial View

Colour Temperature, or how warm or cold a light appears to our eyes, has a significant impact on how we perceive the lights. Above we see very white looking LED lighting alongside more traditional High Pressure Sodium lamps. The much bluer LED Street Lights cause several serious issues including:

  • actually reducing our ability to see clearly at night
  • disturbing noctural creatures more (eg. hatching turtles)
  • affecting sleep patterns
  • affecting biorythms
  • decreasing our ability to see stars at night

So the energy savings are real, but the environmental side affects are too.

Managing Colour Temperature

Unfortunately LEDs are not as easy to control for Colour Temperature. Unlike an incandescent light, they emit a very narrow band of wavelengths of light. And most White LEDs emit blue and use a phosphor to down convert some of the Blue to Yellow so they look whiter rather than Bluer. The earliest White LEDs were very blue and so early adopters of LED Street Lighting have ended up with the worst outcome. And the more we warm up the colour the lower the efficiency because we lose some energy in the down conversion.

The are some breakthrough underway and Cree have recently discovered that it is more efficient to add some red LEDs to the mix to drop the perceived colour temperature. And this is helping. But even the newest devices are at a colour temperature of 3000K and the High Pressure Sodium Lamps are at around 2100K. So still quite a bit different.

The only solution for the millions of already installed LED Street Lighting is unfortunately to swap them out for more recent LED arrays that are at a better colour temperature.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

FinFETs Rule

At the moment, the dominant transistor technology used to make high density silicon devices is the FinFET. This is made using vertical fins allowing the gate to wrap around the Source and Drain. This improves control of the channel. The video below shows exactly how this is constructed and how it works.

Some additional details are available at FinFET.

FinFETs have dominated dense semiconductor design and manufacture since 2011 and are the reason we have been able to continue driving device density higher while not increasing heat by the same amount.

Beyond FinFETs

So what comes next?

It is believed the logical next step is to fully wrap the gate around the source and drain region creating a Gate-all-around Device. This gives maximum control while also reducing leakage to transistors either side. Nanotechnology researcher imec has demonstrated one method of achieving this by wrapping a silicon gate around 8nm wide nanowires. This Lateral Nanowire Gate All Around FET could prove to be a candidate to replace FinFETs as the demand for device density continues to grow.

Lateral Nanowire Transistor

Lateral Nanowire Transistor

And an isometric view of the Lateral Nanowires and the gate structure wrapped around them.

Lateral Nanowire Gate-All-Around FET

Lateral Nanowire Gate-All-Around FET

One benefit of this approach is that the fabrication process is very similar to FinFET fabrication and so the transition to the new technology might not require significant investment in new equipment. This is quite different to shrinking the technology from 10nm to 7nm or 5nm which usually required significant research, process development and equipment reinvestment.

Interesting times ahead.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Memristor

The Memristor is a device that was theoretically predicted in 1971 by Leon Chua but not demonstrated in practice until 2008. It is one of the 4 Fundamental Circuit Elements. The full collection is:

  • Resistor
  • Capacitor
  • Inductor
  • Memristor

The diagram below shows how they relate to the physical elements of Voltage, Current, Charge, and Magnetic Flux.

Fundamental 2 Terminal Circuit Elements

Fundamental 2 Terminal Circuit Elements

While we have been aware of Resistors, Capacitors and Inductors for a long time, and they are in common use, the Memristor is a very different proposition. The relationship between flux and charge implies storage of information as one possible use.

In practice, there is still quite a bit of controversy surrounding the Memristor and whether the 2008 discovery of non-linearity in TiO2 films really was a Memristor effect. And then there is the difficulty of getting our thinking around just how to make one, use one or even measure one.

Memristor

Memristor made from TiO2 wires

The image above shows the device used by HP to demonstrate Memristor effect. The wires are only 150 atoms wide and the flow of current depletes the Oxygen causing a steady shift in electrical resistance. At its heart, the Memristor effect means that the resistance of the device is a function of the sum of the current that has previously flowed through it. And so the HP device appears to do this. Hence their claim of discovering the first tangible evidence of the real existence of the Memristor.

My first thought here is that to measure its resistance, you have to flow some current through it and therefore change it. So as a memory element, this change would need to be a small percentage of its current state to retain the memory for many access cycles. Or it could need refreshing like DRAM does. All ideas others have had I am sure.

Memristor as Neuron

A recent article in IEEE Spectrum on Mimicking the Synapses of the Brain suggests a Memristor could be used to replicate the behaviour of neurons. This relies on the effect of Calcium flow in neurons altering their state. Much like current in a Memristor alters its resistance. So this also looks like a plausible use of the device.

Commercial availability was predicted for 2018 but this still seems premature. We have been using Resistors, Capacitors and Inductors for more than a century (a lot more) and so we can expect this to take a little while to work out. We have only had 8 years to explore this new territory.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Passion Matters

Because we design other people’s products for them, we get to meet a lot of people who want success. There is nothing wrong with that. Some want to Make a Difference and are pursuing a cause they are passionate about. And I get the most satisfaction from helping them to succeed at doing that.

Stephanie Alexander

Stephanie Alexander cooking at home

At the most recent Casey Cardinia Business Group breakfast session I had the chance to hear Stephanie Alexander share her journey. And it was an inspiring reminder that passion does indeed Make a Difference.

Casey Cardinia Business Group

Casey Cardinia Business Group

Stephanie grew up in a family that believed in the value of education, discussed topics of interest, and ate home cooked food. Her Mum not only liked to cook tasty meals but was also interested in the meaning of food and it’s social context.

Following her graduation she traveled to Europe and in France discovered a love of food that has stayed with her for the rest of her life.

Although her first commercial efforts weren’t successful, she persevered and was able to use her systematic organisational skills developed in teaching and library work to run a successful restaurant. She also discovered a passion for educating people about food, cooking with confidence and enjoying the taste and texture of well cooked, fresh, seasonal produce. This led to writing books and developing the Kitchen Garden Foundation program to teach primary school children the benefits and joy of growing fresh vegetables and cooking them.

The success of the books bankrolled some of the other activities and their success attracted philanthropic investment as well as government grants.

She didn’t start with the intent of being a leader. It was her desire to influence people’s view of food and their choice of what to eat that led to it as an emerging position and allowed her to make the difference she has been able to make.

Influencing the coming generations and how they perceive food will affect many modern issues including climate change and obesity. Stephanie believes that obesity solved by calorie management and powdered food. She believes it will be easier to overcome once we rediscover the joy of growing and cooking great produce as an alternative to convenient food that really doesn’t have the same taste, texture and quality of nourishment.

The Cook’s Companion was intended as a complete education in produce, cooking and having confidence in being able to do that. And it has been a huge success in helping cos achieve just that. It wasn’t written to make money. It was written to help people. That it had also been a commercial success shows the value of doing something good to help others and doing it very well.

Success Lessons

Her story parallels many others I am familiar with. And they all seem to share the some common characteristics:

  • trying to do something to Make a Difference, not just to make money
  • having to push through initial failures and learn from them
  • building a team around you and energising them with your passion
  • having a message big enough to capture the attention of the world around you

In my case, it is making it possible for Australian Electronics Manufacturers to be both locally and globally competitive.

In the case of Stephanie Alexander, it is awaking the value of good food grown and prepared well to an upcoming generation who are mostly being fed the message of convenience.

The Cook's Companion

The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander

Last night I broke out our copy of The Cook’s Companion and thoroughly enjoyed preparing a good meal.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

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