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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.

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.

PACE Zenith Awards 2016

You might have seen that we are Casey Cardinia Business Awards Finalists for 2016.

Well today we found out that we are also finalists in the PACE Zenith Awards for 2016.

PACE Zenith Awards 2015

PACE Zenith Awards 2016

The categories are:

  • Water & Wastewater Control
  • Power & Energy Management
  • Best PLC, HMI & Sensor Product
  • Best Network Implementation

These are for 4 products designed over the past 12 months and we also want to thank our clients who gave us permission to put them forward for consideration.

So thank you to Water Synergy Group and IND Technology who gave us permission and who had the vision for the products we developed for them.

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 Manufacturing Symposium 2016

The Casey Cardinia Region was a major sponsor of this particular symposium, also know as the Manufacturing and Future Industries Forum,  and so this meeting included some region specific statistics. So here they are:

  • Casey Cardinia Region is headed for 650,000 people over the next 20 years
  • Manufacturing accounts for more than 50% of GDP in Melbourne’s south East
  • 100 families a week move into the Casey Cardinia Region
  • 135 babies a week a born – hence Monash health referring to it as nappy valley 🙂
  • 70% of resident workers have to travel outside the region for work
Casey Cardinia Region

Casey Cardinia Region

Australian Manufacturing History

Committee for Economic Development of Australia

Committee for Economic Development of Australia

Manufacturing GDP in Australia has halved since then 1980s. This is offset by the rise in finance, mining and health. Looking at recent history it grew slightly from 2000 to 2008 then slowly dropped back to the same level today and for the past 10 months has grown each month.

Manufacturings declining percentage of GDP is due to holding its output level while GDP grows.

Employment has been the biggest reduction at 18% decline or 200,000 jobs; mostly in Victoria and South Australia.

Food and beverage is the biggest category followed by machinery and equipment which includes automotive. Construction and building materials has held its own in the light of recent Senate enquiries into sub-standard and non-conforming product being imported. This has led to an advantage in quality confidence for local products showing it isn’t just about price. This has also been assisted by the rise in residential construction on the eastern and South eastern sea board.

Major issues and roadblocks

The listed issues for Australian manufacturers are:

  • Access to finance
  • Australia is a difficult place to do business
  • Tax and regulation
  • Australia ranks 21st for global manufacturing competitiveness
  • Similar to other business rankings for Australia
Julie Toth

Julie Toth AIG

Industry Policy

The Victorian Government has identified 5 sectors for policy support:

  • Food and agribusiness
  • Mining
  • Oil, Gas and Energy
  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Medical and diagnostic devices

Discussion on Australia’s Future industries and employment options

The panel consisted of:

  • Dr Cathy Foley, CSIRO, Clunies Ross award recipient 2015 (Australia’s Nobel prize)
  • Michael Green, Victorian DEDJTR
  • Julie Tooth, chief economist AIG
  • Jennifer Conley, moderator
Dr Cathy Foley

Dr Cathy Foley – CSIRO

Michael Green made the point that Advanced Manufacturing meant the value add must go beyond the quality and cost story to the customer. So not getting the attention of the chief purchasing office, but instead of the new product or strategic technology alliance executive.

Dr Cathy Foley explained that we underestimate the value of thinking globally. CSIRO has a national remit but recognises it needs to help businesses achieve international competitiveness. And now they can help sole traders get to a breakthrough technology and not just focus on big players. In one project Cathy used their superconducting technology to create a new magnetic field detector to improve exploration efficiency.

CSIRO

CSIRO

Julie Tooth was asked if we had squandered our energy advantage? She explained that we used to have a cost advantage but that has now gone. Renewable investment has also been unreliable due to frequent changes in policy at both federal and state levels. Other policy and trade agreement activity has also muddied rather than clarified future direction.

AIG

AIG – Australian Industry Group

Dr Cathy Foley explained that the exit of girls from STEM needs to be seriously addressed. And where there is take-up, what we aren’t seeing is progressing into leadership and management roles. With our growing Asian background and proximity to Asia not being taken advantage of. We need to be wary of creating a social divide between higher socio-economic areas where you get access to coding and technology skills and those living in lower income areas or rural and remote communities do not.

Can we make high technology devices here?

Michael Green stated that this needs investment in the infrastructure.

Dr Cathy Foley noted that researchers stop short of delivering a full solution – traditionally this has been the case but it is increasingly becoming obvious that that path from fundamental research to applied research to full manufacturing capability including process technology improvement.

Michael Green explained that new manufactured products will have digital products and artefacts alongside it.

Improving collaboration?

It isn’t just a case of university to business collaboration. A business needs to collaborate with a broad range of other businesses including their own customers. So it isn’t a simple issue. A supply chain needs multiple entities and it isn’t just a case of dealing directly with the end customer but also supporting all the intermediates so the whole ecosystem end to end.

The CSIRO lean start-up program is focusing researchers on creating product product opportunities and engaging with potential customers and making sure they really need it.

And although I can’t yet give you details yet, we are involved in the development of one of the lean start-up products.

Grow Magazine

The most recent edition of Grow Magazine, an initiative between the Start News Group and the City of Casey, covered the event as well. You can read about it in Successful Endeavours – Grow Magazine 20160705.

GROW Magazine

GROW Magazine

You can also read the entire magazine online at Rising to the Global Challenge.

CEDA - Rising To The Global Challenge

CEDA – Rising To The Global Challenge

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd

National Manufacturing Week 2016

This year we are back in Sydney at Sydney Olympic Park for National Manufacturing Week 2016.

National Manufacturing Week

National Manufacturing Week

And again we are supporting the Casey Cardinia Region. This year we are in stand 2216 which is a lot more central that 2 years ago.

Casey Cardinia Region

Casey Cardinia Region

You can also check out the directory entry for Successful Endeavours though if you are familiar with us there will be no surprises there.

So if you are thinking of dropping in to the exhibition then please come and say hello. Melbourne might be the manufacturing capital of Australia, but there are still a large number of significant manufacturers in Sydney including a growing biomedical device manufacturing cluster. And we have clients in Sydney and so are hoping to catch up with some of them.

We are also 3D Printing in house now and so I’m personally interested in what is happening with 3D Printing and will be checking out that part of the exhibition.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd

Predicting the Future

How hard can it be. Surely everything follows on from everything else?

This is what was behind Sir Isaac Newton’s proposition that if we work out the equations of the universe and plug in the initial conditions, we can predict everything. And so science became the new religion of western society.

Until quantum mechanics came along.

So there are 3 ways the future can prove unpredictable. We can have unexpected discoveries (breakthroughs), we can have existing ideas that meld together in unexpected ways (convergence), and we can have false ideas eradicated (proof). The latter is the harder and the first is the easier to understand the implications of. So I am going to focus on convergence.

Convergence

These comments below are taken from Peter Diamandis and you can join his mailing list too if you want to get access to thinking like this.

Peter Diamandis

Peter Diamandis

Unexpected convergent consequences… this is what happens when eight different exponential technologies all explode onto the scene at once.

An expert might be reasonably good at predicting the growth of a single exponential technology (e.g. the Internet of Things), but try to predict the future when the following eight technologies are all doubling, morphing and recombining… You have a very exciting (read: unpredictable) future.

  1. Computation
  2. Internet of Things (Sensors & Networks)
  3. Robotics/Drones
  4. Artificial Intelligence
  5. 3D Printing
  6. Materials Science
  7. Virtual/Augmented Reality
  8. Synthetic Biology

This year at my Abundance 360 Summit I decided to explore this concept in sessions I called Convergence Catalyzers.

For each technology, I brought in an industry expert to identify their Top 5 Recent Breakthroughs (2012-2015) and their Top 5 Anticipated Breakthroughs (2016-2018). Then, we explored the patterns that emerged.

This blog (the first of seven) is a look at Networks and Sensors (i.e. the Internet of Everything). Future blogs will look at the remaining tech areas.

Networks and Sensors

At A360 my first guest was Raj Talluri, the Senior VP of Product Management at Qualcomm, who oversees their Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile computing businesses. Here’s some context before we dive in.

The Earth is being covered by an ever-expanding mesh of networks and sensors that form the Internet of Things (or the Internet of Everything). Think of the IoT as the network of all digitally accessible objects, estimated at 15 billion in number today, and expected to grow to more than 50 billion by 2020.

But what makes this even more powerful, is that each of these connected devices, are themselves made up of a dozen sensors measuring everything from vibration, position and light, to blood chemistries and heart rate.

Imagine a world rapidly approaching a trillion sensor economy where the IoT enables a data-driven future in which you can know anything you want, anytime you want, anywhere you want. A world of instant, high-bandwidth, communications and near perfect information.

The implications of this are staggering, and I asked Raj to share his top five breakthroughs from the past three years to illustrate some of them.

Recent Top 5 Breakthroughs (2013 – 2015)

Here are the breakthroughs Raj identified in Networks and Sensor technology from 2012-2015.

Emergence of Continuous Low-Power Always-On Sensors

One of the major advances from the past three years has been the proliferation of “always on” sensors.

As Raj explains, “You’ll be amazed how many of your phone sensors are always on. If you look at your phone, there were times when you had to press the button to say “hello Google” or “hi Siri”. Now, you don’t. You just talk to it and it figures it out.”

“This has been made possible because you’re now able to make very low power sensors that listen to you all the time, keyword detect and do the data processing.”

Smartphones Drives Sensor Volume at Low Cost

The number of sensors in your smartphone today have exploded. Raj continues, “We are now seeing 10, 20 and even 30 sensors embedded in our smartphones. Things like proximity sensors when you pick your phone up, gyros, cameras, depth sensors and so on. This has really driven down cost and driven the discovery of new sensors, because there are a billion smartphones [sold] every year. It’s a huge opportunity.”

A billion phones means 20 billion+ sensors – and we are headed towards a trillion sensor economy.

“Systems” Fuse Continuous Sensor Data & Cloud Processing

Seamless integration of processing is happening in the cloud and on your device. Raj explains, “When you say, ‘Okay, Google,’ a part of what happens next is on the phone and a part is on the cloud. You don’t really know where the processing is being done, on your device or on the cloud, the hand off is seamless.”

4K Video Format Goes Mainstream

4K screen resolution is close to the point that the brain is unable to notice pixels. As such, somewhere between 4K and 8K, virtual reality become visually equal to visual reality.

Raj explains how this technology is exploding: “If you buy a 4K TV and watch 4K content, it’s very hard to go back to 1080p. It almost feels like you were watching a VHS tape when DVDs came out. Today, if you look at what we’ve done at Qualcomm in the high-end processors space, we shipped over 200 to 250 million processors that actually record in 4K.”

Opening of Sensor APIs to 3rd Party Apps Development Community

The reality is that the majority of phone apps now come from third party developers. This explosion in apps (perhaps 50 to 100 per phone) is only possible because of (i) the opening of the APIs for the sensors in the devices and (ii) the community of developers that has emerged as a result.

So what’s in store for the near future?

Anticipated Top 5 Breakthroughs (2016 – 2018)

Here are Raj’s predictions for the most exciting, disruptive developments coming in Networks and Sensors in the next three years.

As entrepreneurs and investors, these are the areas you should be focusing on, as the business opportunities are tremendous.

Wireless Network Densification (4G/5G): Cost / Megabit Plummets

The cost per megabit of connection is going to plummet – essentially nearing “free” in the very near future.

Raj expands, “Already in places like Indonesia, we find that people are actually getting data plans at a price of $5 a month. In most of the world, the cost per megabit is extremely low as the cost of launching networks is plummeting.”

Emergent Peer-To-Peer Tech Drives Automotive Communication & Safety

Soon all of your devices at home and work (screens, thermostats, DVRs, computers, even cars) will automatically connect seamlessly. You won’t have to make conscious decisions about how to connect your washing machine. When it finishes washing the clothes, you will get a notification on your phone.”

Global Internet Connectivity via Satellite Plummets in Cost

Qualcomm, in partnership with Richard Branson, are working to deploying a 648 satellite constellation called OneWeb. Raj explains, “Global Internet connectivity through satellites is finally going to happen… Just think about three billion new people coming online at a megabit per second. It is going to be completely different kind of experience.”

Exponential Growth in Connections to Internet from Various Devices – Personal/Home/Cities

Raj says, “I often ask people: how many IP addresses do you think you have at your house?” Most people have no clue. They say, “Maybe two or three…”

For Raj (and most of us) it’s more like 50… your TVs, your set top boxes, phone, iPads, Nest, cameras, light bulbs…

“In the next few years, the number of things that will be connected to the Internet at any given point of time in your life is going to be so huge that the way they work is going to be very different. You won’t need to reach for your phone to do something. Coupled with sensor networks, you’ll just be able to speak and ask for what you want.”

Major Improvements of Head-Mounted User Interfaces with Rich Bandwidth and Onboard Sensors

Over the next three years, we’ll see rapid uptake of VR and AR headsets, each with

4K displays and cameras, and packed with a suite of sensors connected by high bandwidth communications to the cloud. The result is that each of us is wearing an incredible User Interface with high-speed communications that will make our virtual experiences so good that you won’t need to travel to experience something.”

There is a lot to think about there. We are heavily involved in the Internet of Things (IoT) space and particularly see the opportunities that come from low cost communications with low power electronics and always on monitoring. Suddenly you can have the flood monitoring system you never thought was possible. Or bush fire front monitoring. Or pretty much anything else you can thing of that has a sensor option already developed. And Big Data adds another dimension to this where the multiple different sensing technologies combine their data together to provide information and insights not previously possible. If I was to add another category to Peter Diamandis insights, it is that Big Data will out weight them all.

My thanks got to Luke McIndoe of Nebo Engineering for passing this on to me. They are a group of highly skilled engineers who are Piping and Pressure Vessel Designers among other things.

Luke Mcindoe

Luke McIndoe of Nebo Engineering

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd

Security of Software Systems

This post looks at security of software systems in the embedded realm. We are fortunate to have some good recommendations from IEEE on this topic. The first looks at avoiding Software Security Design Flaws. The summary is outlined below:

  1. Earn or give, but never assume, trust. Make sure all data received from an untrusted client are properly validated before processing. When designing systems, be sure to consider the context where code will be executed, where data will go, and where data entering your system come from. Failing to consider these things will expose you to vulnerabilities associated with trusting components that have not earned that trust.
  2. Use an authentication mechanism that cannot be bypassed or tampered with. Such mechanisms are critical to secure designs, but they can be susceptible to various forms of tampering and may be bypassed if not designed correctly. The center recommends a single authentication mechanism that leverages one or more factors for each application’s requirements; that it serves as a “choke point” to avoid potential bypass; and that authentication credentials have limited lifetimes, be unforgettable, and be stored so that if the stored form is stolen, it cannot easily be used by the thief to pose as a legitimate user.
  3. Authorize after you authenticate. Authorization should be conducted as an explicit check, even after an initial authentication has been completed. Authorization depends not only on the privileges associated with an authenticated user but also on the context of the request.
  4. Strictly separate data and control instructions, and never process control instructions received from untrusted sources. Lack of strict separation between data and code often leads to untrusted data controlling the execution flow of a software system.
  5. Define an approach that ensures that all data are explicitly validated. Software systems and components commonly make assumptions about data they operate on. It is important to explicitly ensure that such assumptions hold. Vulnerabilities frequently arise from implicit assumptions about data, which can be exploited if an attacker can subvert and invalidate these assumptions.
  6. Use cryptography correctly. Cryptography is one of the most important tools for building secure systems. With it one can ensure the confidentiality of data, protect data from unauthorized modification, and authenticate the source of data.
  7. Identify the sensitive data and how they should be handled. One of the first tasks for systems designers is to identify sensitive data and determine how to protect them. Many deployed systems over the years have failed to protect data appropriately. This can happen when designers fail to identify data as sensitive, or when designers do not identify all the ways in which data could be manipulated or exposed.
  8.  Always consider the users. The security stance of a software system is inextricably linked to what its users do with it. It is therefore very important that all security-related mechanisms are designed to make it easy to deploy, configure, use, and update the system securely. Remember, security is not a feature that can simply be added
 to a software system but rather a property emerging from how the system is built and operated.
  9. Understand how integrating external components changes your attack surface. It is unlikely that you will develop a new system without using external pieces of software. In fact, when adding functionality to an existing system, developers often make use of existing components.
  10. Be flexible when considering future changes to objects and actors. Software security must be designed for change; it should not be fragile, brittle, and static. During the design and development processes, the goal is to meet a set of functional and security requirements. However, software, the environments running software, and threats and attacks against software all change over time. Even when security is considered during design, or the framework being used is built correctly to permit run-time changes in a controlled and secure manner, designers still must consider the security implications of future changes.

Wearable Device Security

The second input is specifically looking at how to protect very small computing systems such as wearables from cyberattacks. You can read the complete report at Protect Wearable Devices Against Cyberattacks. The 2 primary points made are:

  • Authentication matters – really think about how you will authenticate users
  • Ultimately code decides what happens. So mange the code base well

We are working constantly in the IoT space and so managing security and access is a big issues for these projects. If security isn’t front and center, then field deployed devices are all in trouble.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd

Drones – a background

Drones is hot technology as well as a political and social topic. But we have a lot to work out yet. Other form of transportation have been legislated for a long time and radio remote controlled planes and helicopters too. But Drones opens up a whole new set of issues not yet covered. The area is so new we don’t even have definitive definitions of what they are or what to call them. Aerial version are often referred to as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs.  Ground based versions are often called Robots.

The key difference we have now is that a Drone is capable of autonomous flight well beyond the range of local radio remote control and as GPS path tracking and batteries get better plus stability and flight dynamics control improves, Drones can be used of amazing things.

Here is a video showing one of the establishes uses for an Aerial Drone, videoing some spectacular location or event.

See The Insider’s Guide to Drone Videography for the full picture.

We have also all heard of them being used for remote assassinations. And also for search and rescue as well as spying on the neighbours and even pizza delivery is being considered.

Some already established uses of Drones are:

  • Remote surveillance
  • Exploration of the moon and other planets
  • Exploration of asteroids
  • Remotely controlled  weapons
  • Autonomous weapons
  • Video and Audio surveillance
  • Real Estate Videos
  • Inspection of pretty much anything
  • Remote Delivery
  • Motion Picture film sequences
  • just having fun

The list can go on. But for the rest of this post I’m going to focus on flying drones as this is the area creating the most controversy. Mostly because the legislation and social norms are falling well being what technology can do.

Drones – Some Recent News

This is more a collection of articles worth checking out that a huge exposition. Over time I’ll more specific posts. But these recent articles in IEEE Spectrum all got my attention.

Here is the Flyability Gimball Drone which has a unique feature, the cage protecting the propellers can rotate allowing it to run along walls, or explore ice caves.

More on this at Spectacular Video Shows Flyability’s Gimball Drone Exploring Ice Caves.

Here’s how to win $1 Million in a search and rescue competition for Drones. Note, the sound is pretty loud on this clip so maybe turn down a little before hitting play.

See This Invincible Flying Robot Just Won a $1 Million Drone Competition for more the full video of its award winning exploration of a simulated disaster site.

And Lily, another famous Drone Startup, is shipping flying cameras that seem to have taken the pet video market by storm.

Drones deliver

Drones can be useful for remote delivery of goods where freight infrastructure doesn’t yet exist, such as Africa. Check out The Economics of Drone Delivery.

Protection from Drones

This has several implications. The major ones are privacy and safety. Drones can be used as weapons. And Drones can be used to spy on everything from neighbours to foreign military installations and governments.

So how do we protect ourselves?

The Dutch are training eagles to take Drones out of the air. Check this out.

The commentary is in Dutch but the video speaks for itself. The full article is at Dutch Police Training Eagles to Take Down Drones.

So that is a glimpse at this fairly broad topic.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

 

Supercapacitors

Supercapacitors are based on regular capacitors with very high energy storage and which can transfer that energy very rapidly. This means you can get rapid energy delivery and also rapid charging. This makes them the ideal complement to batteries which can store much larger amounts of energy but which cannot be charged as rapidly and may also not be able to deliver the energy rapidly enough.

This is why Supercapacitors and batteries are being combined to Make Batteries Better.

But what if they could eventually replace batteries?

Supercapacitors versus Batteries

Supercapacitors versus Batteries

Better Supercapacitors

One thing holding back Supercapacitors from replacing batteries is their total storage capacity. At present, the best supercapacitors can still be a factor of 10 smaller in energy storage.

Recent breakthroughs have shown that Carbon Nano-Structures can significantly improve the storage density and total capacity of Supercapacitors.

Nitrogen Doped Supercapacitor Electrode

Nitrogen Doped Supercapacitor Electrode

Building on this, the most recent breakthrough adds Nitrogen to the mix and shows that Nitrogen can Triple Supercapacitor Energy Density. This gets us to within a factor of 3 of battery storage capacity and opens up the possibility that Supercapacitors could replace batteries completely in some applications.  Especially if you want either very rapid charge or lots of charge cycles. Batteries cannot compete with Supercapacitors in either of these areas.

Capacitors still have one characteristic that makes them less desirable as energy sources that batteries.

Battery Discharge Curve

Battery Discharge Curve

Batteries maintain their voltage in a narrow range for most of the energy delivery they provide. The slope varies with capacitor type as is shown above for a comparison of Alkaline and Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries. Whereas a capacitor is a straight line with the voltage falling in proportion to the amount of energy extracted. And the reverse for charging the capacitor.

Supercapacitor Applications

Some obvious application arise for the next generation of Supercapacitors:

  • augmenting batteries even further than they do now – especially in high demand applications like automotive
  • anything that needs very rapid recharging
  • anything that needs a large number of recharge cycles (a key weakness of Lithium based batteries)
  • anything that needs extended life (10 year life requires specialised battery types even now)
  • removing the recycling  problems for batteries

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

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