Successful Endeavours - Electronics Designs That Work!

GPS History

GPS started with Sputnik. This was covered really well by Steven Johnson in his book on “Where Good Ideas Come From“. Here is a summary.

The basic plot is easy to understand. Smart people work out how to use existing stuff to do extraordinary things with it. While he starts with English coffee houses, he also shows how trying to work out where Sputnik is leads to working out how a GPS system can be made to work.

The initial motivation is quite dark. How can I accurately drop bombs on Russian cities? But we have come through that to find GPS really useful. Like “how can I get from where I am to my next appointment”.

Improving GPS accuracy

So some new work has looked at how we can make GPS even more accurate. Modern GPS receivers can get us to within 1.5m of our current location most of the time. With commercial correction services (accounting for satellite actual positions) we can get to 0.5m of the actual position 95% of the time.

That has been OK for a while now.

Some recent advances allow the accuracy to be improved to 10cm. A recent IEEE article on Centimeter Level GPS shows how.

And the upside? Your car can now use your GPS to navigate and stay within its lane.

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.

Wearables started when?

The buzz technology of the past 18 months has been Wearables which is short for Wearable Technology. So when exactly did Wearable Technology begin? Like most overnight successes, it started a long time ago. Below is an infographic from http://www.visualcapitalist.com/the-history-of-wearable-technology/ that is an excellent overview of the topic, with some notable exceptions I will address after you peruse it. I selected it because it covers right up to this moment.

Wearable Tech History Infographic

Wearable Tech History Infographic

They got eyeglasses right but missed the other most successful wearable device of all time, the wristwatch. The first true wristwatch was made for the Queen of Naples in 1810 although arm watches date back to 1571. Neither were widely used because the mechanisms were prone to jamming and sensitive to ingress and so needed to be protected. So pocket watches and pendant watches dominated the scene. It wasn’t until the 1880s that artillery officers found it awkward to hold the watch and do their aiming and started strapping them to their wrists. This gave them visibility of the time when they needed without occupying one of their hands. The trend took off and by the early 1900s watch designs were modified to suit attachment to the wrist via a strap using lugs on the case. The age of the wristwatch was upon us.

So by this period, eye glasses if you needed them, and wristwatches or pocket watches, were widely adopted.

Wearable Computing Devices

So when were the first Wearable Computing devices? If you paid careful attention to the infographic, you might have noticed the Abacus Ring. Dated in the early 1600s this was definitely a computing device, just not an electronic one. It was a great aid to merchants of the day.

Abacus Ring - 1600s

Abacus Ring – 1600s

The first wearable electronics computing device to be widely sold was the Casio Calculator Watch which was released in the mid-1970s. Take up of portable music players and headsets were a bigger trend kicked off by the Sony Walkman at the end of that same decade.

It wasn’t until Bluetooth headsets emerged in the early 2000s that we had another mass adoption of Wearable Technology followed by the explosion of MP3 players and Apple’s massively successful iPod range.

Sports trackers start emerging from 2006 but it isn’t until Fitbit finally got their product into production that they really take off from 2009 onward. Fitbit almost didn’t make it commercially because the technology was really hard to make work and even harder to make. Today they have 70% of the activity tracker market but there are a plenty of new players now they have proven the market potential.

And wearable computers got a huge lift with the Google Glass project kicking off in 2012. It raised a plethora of issues, not the least of which was privacy. Although the product was discontinued by Google in January 2015, it took the debate on augmented reality and its issues forward.

Google Glass Tear Down

Google Glass Tear Down

The Year of the Wearable

Which brings us to 2014: declared the “Year of the Wearable”. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear wrist communications device from late 2013 had finally eclipsed Dick Tracey and the wrist communicator of the 1930s cartoon series. The explosion of product offerings has continued into 2015 with the much anticipated Apple Watch now released. And a whole new host of communications support accessories. Another growth area is pet management. As the technology gets more accessible to smaller companies we can expect this to continue covering the full range of possible options including:

  • Augmented reality
  • Medical monitoring and health support
  • Activity and lifestyle management
  • Pet management
  • Home automation
  • Communications and communications support
  • Computing devices of all types

There really isn’t an end to where this can go. It is up to companies to deliver real value to end users in order to define the bounds of what makes commercial sense. The technology is still hard to do but as more products get to market, more companies learn the techniques needed to be successful at super low power worn devices and the whole application area continues to progress.

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.

Casey Cardinia Business Awards 2016

Tonight we took part in the Casey Cardinia Business Awards 2016 where we were finalists in 2 categories.

We are pleased to announce that we won the Business and Professional Services Category for 2016.

Casey Cardinia Business Awards 2016

Business and Professional Services Award 2016

Overall it was a great night and our congratulations go to Australian Fresh Leaf Herbs for taking out Casey Business of the Year 2016.

Casey Cardinia Business Awards 2016

Casey Cardinia Business Awards 2016

Our congratulations go to every business that entered the Casey Cardinia Business Awards this year.

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.

CEDA and Australia’s Innovation Challenge

CEDA, or the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, run regular industry sessions to discuss topics of national economic importance. The latest was a lunchtime session covering the benefits of Innovation and also some of the challenges we need to overcome to take advantage of Innovation in Australia.

Committee for Economic Development of Australia

Committee for Economic Development of Australia

Here are videos of the panel discussion which raise a lot of excellent points. They are split into 2 due to their length.

 

Below I cover my take on some of the areas covered both before and during the panel discussion.

Innovation in Job Hunting

Job hunting, or seeking, is a 2 way problem. Potential employees want a good job and potential employers want good employees. Should be simple, right?

Doug Blue of SEEK shared some changes in the jobs market. SEEK used to just place job advertisements on a Web site. Now they have moved to employment fulfillment with up to 70% of job placements being through their services. This is typical of the shift in value creation that is happening all over the world.
A recent survey in Australia shows that 76% of people do not like their current job.

Innovation in Governance

Glenys Beauchamp PSM, of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, shared statistics and perspectives on the local economy. This is a summary of what was a very comprehensive and competent presentation.

Glenys Beauchamp

Glenys Beauchamp

The OECD statistics show that up to 50% of new jobs are due to Innovation. So this is an important topic for national growth. And to add more weight to the argument, 60% of productivity gains are due to Innovation.

Australia’s GDP growth has remained flat since 2011 and if this continues then our standard of living will start to fall.

Innovative businesses grow faster, have a more diverse range of market offerings, and create more jobs in them and around them than businesses which are not Innovation focused.

Drivers for Innovation:

  • High proportion of tertiary qualified young adults
  • High standard of research capability

And a few challenges:

  • Low rates of disruptive Innovation
  • Reducing investment for Innovation
  • Low levels of venture and early stage investment
  • Lowest level of Collaboration with universities and publicly funded research organisations in the OECD
  • Low Collaboration in general

The Australian Government is looking at all options to improve this including funding schemes not based on grants, big science infrastructure, tax incentives, entrepreneurs programs and simplifying engagement between business and publicly funded organisations.

Innovation Panel

Lunch was followed by a panel session. The panel was:

  • Glenys Beauchamp PSM – Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
  • Geoff Culbert – GE Australia, NZ, Papua New Guinea
  • Andrew Smith – Shell Australia
  • Andy Vessey – AGL

This is a summary of the discussion.

Innovation can’t just be about improving core business output, it also has to have spread and it has to be able to cross organisational and industry boundaries.

One big challenge is moving to a net zero emissions while increasing energy availability. So clean energy generation is a key and Australia is well placed to be exploring that.

Consumers of tomorrow will be making informed choices so those businesses that don’t educate and inform their customers will lose them to businesses that do. Many traditional businesses and industries are ripe for digital disruption.

GE see software as key to their digital industrial product range. IoT, or the Internet of Things,  is key to the adding of more value.

Shell are looking sideways at every industry they can to identify technologies they can harness in their industry. And they find Australia has many excellent researchers and businesses that can be tapped for solutions to problems that they don’t yet have a satisfactory answer for.

There is a role for Government to get the macro economic conditions right to encourage businesses to act through appropriate incentives. But Government also needs to change its own behaviour to be able to be a part of the future rather than living in a bureaucratic past.

Australia was outraged that we came 10th in the medals tally at the Olympic Games yet there is no outrage about our abysmally low Collaboration and business ratings! How do we get the bigger conversation going at the citizen level?

It is about investment level and investment focus. We value sporting success so we invest. To do better we have to either invest more or invest smarter. It is the same with Innovation and Collaboration. The real issue is where will the funding come from, and exactly how will it be applied. No-one seems to be addressing the lack of funding in a serious way.

Intellectual Property is no longer the main game, nor is data. It is the insights you get from data that is more important. GE have made their IoT operating system, Predix, open source because it is the leverage you get from it that is valuable, not just owning it. And it could also allow others to design devices that can readily fit into the GE ecosystem.

Innovation Summary

For me, the key points that keep coming up are:

  • Low Collaboration is holding us back. And this is a cultural issue. So no amount of money can fix that. We have to address the culture itself.
  • Everyone agrees a lot more money is needed and should be invested. No-one agrees to offer it.
  • Business models are still the biggest area for Innovation and we should keep pushing the boundaries on business models

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.

SEBN Session on Modern Business

South East Business Networks

South East Business Networks

Modern business structures and minimum sustainable business essential components

Richard Caro presented this session to a SEBN audience.

Richard Caro

Richard Caro

What if the world changed and yesterday’s game plan no longer applied?

Buggy whips – the market shifted to automobiles and most buggy whip companies went out of business. Are you aware of how your market is shifting?

What if they redefined themselves as motion management,  horse handling solutions or great leather products?

Long term sustainability requires more that a tactical approach such as “how to sell more buggy whips”?

Current trends are global competition and dis-aggregation. How does this affect your business?

Global customers are possible and global competitors are likely. What does this mean for you?

Dis aggregation means anyone can be part of a global supply chain.

Automation is replacing existing jobs and suppliers and they could now be placed anywhere in the world.

Many businesses may not be in touch with the final end customers.

Do I communicate with a real end customer at least weekly?

Business models

Factory -> getting the word out -> Customer is the normal process. What is wrong with this picture?

Need to add customer discovery feedback to the process!

Business Strength Inventory

Fit each of the 3 areas of factory, getting the word out and customer discovery:

  • Who is responsible?
  • What clout / authority do they have?
  • What budget do they have?
  • Is 80% of their time devoted to this area?

My question was whether it was possible to consider that level of devotion if you are still a small business?

Customer discovery

The lean startup movement has popularised books like:

  • The startup owners manual
  • Value proposition design
  • Business model generation
  • What customers want

The key is to “get out of the building” – Steve Blank.

Steve Blank

Steve Blank

So what should I discuss with the people I meet when I am out of the building?

  • How do they do stuff today?
  •  in detail!
  • Follow them around and become an expert
  • Then find  the best in the world and follow them around
  • What are there unmet needs?
  • Where are the passion points?
  • Or pressure points?
  • Listen a lot!
  • Frame a hypothesis in the form of ” I think people like xxx have a problem doing yyy

The next step is to fund 20-50 people like xxx and interview them asking open ended questions and listen carefully to how they do yyy, including whether they have a problem and if the hypothesis has any merit. Be prepared to refine.  Eg Rinse.  Repeat. As Steve Blank says.

So who should you talk to?

  • Interview 100, not 5
  • It is industry specific – Who is the real customer?
  • Who are the deciders,  influencers, users,  beneficiaries
  • Who are the adjacent customers?
  • Who is in your zone of customer knowledge?
  • They could be unexpected – they emerge from the problem discover

I asked this question so I was particularly interested in this answer.

If the person with the money is different with the person with the need,  you have to develop a business model that means it works for the person with the money.  Otherwise,  there are scenarios where there isn’t a business case that is possible?

Interesting!

So for now, my conclusion is that there are many possible opportunities present and if you look at customer discovery, you might just discover some.

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.

Data and Analytics

Today, data is available for nearly everything you can think of. Or if it isn’t, then it isn’t hard to add new data sources, both internal and external to a business. But data alone isn’t the answer. It is what you do with it, learn from it and decide based on it that really makes the difference.

Data Analytics

Data Analytics

So how do you know what everyone else is doing?

Or how you compare?

aiia , the Australian Information Industry Association, are doing a survey on Data and Analytics in Australia and sharing the results with anyone who contributes. So I’m writing this to encourage you to contribute. I did.

To find out why, you can check out this post by Roger Kermode on Leading and Lagging at Data Analytics.

Or just go straight to the survey on [[[ Australian Data and Analytics ]]].  The link to the survey is at both the top and bottom of the page and some of the data in between might also interest you.

Australian Information Industry Association

Australian Information Industry Association

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.

Innovation In Australia

I had the opportunity to take part in an Innovation session run at Trajan Scientific and Medical. This covered both the Innovation philosophy they operate under and also included a site tour and explanation of the practical aspects of building highly collaborative relationships.

Trajan Scientific and Medical

Trajan Scientific and Medical

Disruptive trends

Autodesk presented a session on trends at work today:

  • How we make things is changing
  • How users buy is also changing
  • Everyone has access to the power to compare products online
  • Kickstarter has Democratised funding
  • 3D printing allows us to make mechanical products in one hit without tooling
  • You can lease a micro-factory for a day or buy a 3D printer for a fraction of the cost of 5 years ago
  • Personalised products – such as talking a picture of you ear and getting custom ear bud made at a very affordable price
  • Rolls Royce now sell engines as a service
  • IoT now means we can instrument everything so it allows improvements in everything. This includes productivity, service, response and learning from actual product use
    So now anyone can become a product designer and manufacturer
  • The 4th industrial revolution is not just for large organisations but individuals can also now become niche product entrepreneurs
  • It also allows reshoring of products that went to Asia and can now come back
  • Autodesk are now moving to a subscription model with cloud services so you can buy a 1 month subscription if that is all you need
  • You can now make products at the point of need rather than mass produce in one spot and ship around the world
  • And designers from around the world can now contribute to projects and the manufacture can now happen anywhere
autodesk

autodesk

Trajan

Andrew Gooley presented a session on Trajan’s approach to innovation and collaboration.

Andrew Gooley of Trajan

Andrew Gooley of Trajan

Trajan stands for science interfacing with society. They have focused on making scientific based components for products and particularly boron and silicate glass items for laboratories, patient samples and individual users needs. They have multiple plants around the world. It is not the product that defines them but the collaboration process. Trajan was a Roman Emperor and introduced many desirable social innovations.

Trajan now see collaboration as the core commercialisation competence they have and is the primary competitive advantage they have. An example is the way they have worked with the University of Adelaide photonics department to use their facility, run it as a commercial entity, use it for their own manufacture and also improve it using the technology they have already developed for their own manufacturing facilities around the world.

An example is collecting and analysing patient samples in the home. Then extending that to third world countries and remote communities to improve their health outcomes. Or reducing premature births by facilitating in home health monitoring to identify conditions that lead to that and providing timely dietary feedback.

Their primary collaboration relationship building technique is to fire bullets before you fire cannons. So try something small to even determine if it can work at all. Not every university or other private company are capable of collaboration.

Their other strength is the ability to run their manufacturing so that they can build to order today. Industry 4.0

I was personally impressed during the tour and came away feeling excited about the possibilities for Australian companies to compete on a global basis if we go about it the right way.

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.

Programming languages

It is 2016 and we are a long way from the 1970s. So of course the world has moved on. Today’s programming has advanced significantly and we have super low powered systems of extraordinary capacity and easy to program securely. Surely!

Or should that be surely?

So here are the IEEE top programming languages for 2016.

Top Programming Languages 2016

Top Programming Languages 2016

This isn’t the first time we have done this. If you go back to Top Programming Languages 2015 you will see that C was second and Java was first. This year, C is first. A 1970s language is back to being first for all programming in 2016. Why?

It is called the Internet of Things or IoT.

So is this a step backward?

In 2016 devices shipped in the product category known as the Internet of Things exceeded all other mainstream electronics device categories. Take all mobile phones, tablet computers and iPads, desktop computers, netbooks, laptops, servers and general computing devices combined, and this is less than the value of products shipped in the category of the Internet of Things.

And this is what is driving the use of the C programming Language. For these small, low powered, low cost, essential to our future devices, have to be programmed in something that lets you get close to the hardware so you can manage it, and also operate in a high level language. My hat goes off to Dennis Richie and KenTompson who developed this language in the early 1970s and gifted it to us all. Their vision has carried an entire civilisation forward.

Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie

Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie

So more than 40 years later, I am still very grateful for their foresight, vision and competence in creating the most used computing language on earth today.

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.

We Won Best Networking Implementation

You might have read our post on being finalists at the PACE Zenith Awards 2016. Tonight we won the Best Networking Implementation award for 2016. Our Congratulations also go to IND Technology. Their Early Fault Detection product was the design we won this award for.

PACE Zenith Winners 2016

PACE Zenith Winners 2016

If you are wondering what the product does, it measures electromagnetic radiation from the electricity distribution grid using custom designed antennas, does DSP math on it, determines if a fault condition such as Partial Discharge is present, and sends an alert if it detects that. It does this at 250MSPS every second and uploads the summary results to a web service. Using PPS GPS synchronisation you can determine the distance to the fault from each EFD Device. Scatter a few of these around the network and you have the most cost effective Early Fault Detection system you can get. It is also a classic high bandwidth IoT project.

OK, enough engineer speak. Here is a summary from the night.

The MC was Merv Hughes who brought a lot of humour to the night through his novel pronunciation of technical terms.

The Keynote Address was given by Dr. David Nayagam who walked us through the The Bionic Eye project and the difference it was going to make to people experiencing blindness that didn;t have underlying receptor damage.

And we had an extraordinary interlude of entertainment by the Unusualist, Raymond Crowe.

PACE Zenith Awards 2015

PACE Zenith Awards 2016

2016 PACE Zenith Awards Winners

Here are all the winners by category:

  • Safety system innovation – Robotic Automation, for Multi-product Robotic Automation
  • Manufacturing Control – Sage Automation, for Integrated Process Control
  • Automation Innovation – Robotic Automation, for Multi-product Robotic Automation
  • Transport Control – Encroaching. For POW’R-LOCK
  • Mining and Minerals Process Control – Scott Automation & Robotics, for ROBOFUEL
  • Water and Wastewater Control – SMC, for Ethercat Network for Treatment of Wastewater
  • Machine Builder – Automation Innovation
  • Oil and Gas Innovation – Yokogawar Australia, Julimar Development Project
  • Power and Energy Management – Alliance Automation, Oxley Creek Rehabilitation Project
  • Best PLC. HMI and Sensor Product – Bestech Australia, Beanair Wireless Sensor Network
  • Best Network Implementation – Successful Endeavours, IND Technology Early Fault Detection System
  • Young Achiever of the Year – Kayla Saggers
  • Lifetime Achievement – Peter Maasepp
  • Project of the Year – Yokogawa, Julimar Development Project

Our congratulations go to all the participants.

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.

State iAwards 2016

The state iAwards for 2016 are done and dusted and Skynanny has received a merit award, this time in the consumer product category. Here is a copy of the announcement.

VIC

Consumer – Merit Recipient

SKY NANNY – Nuguy Nominees Pty Ltd t/as SKY NANNY

SkyNanny is a child safety product built for parents by parents. It is a device worn by a child in his/her clothing which is paired to the parent’s mobile phone. Its more than just a location device. SkyNanny will prevent your child from going missing in the first place.

View the skynanny website

Now they are off to the National iAwards where the winners will be announced at a gala dinner on 1 September 2016.

Our congratulations go to Skynanny and also our thanks or having been involved in the development of such a useful product. In 2015 they were merit award recipients for the New Product category.

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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