Successful Endeavours - Electronics Designs That Work!

C Programming Language

The C Programming Language was developed by Dennis Richie and Ken Thompson at Bell Laboratories between 1969 and and 1973. It was the successor to B and used to create Unix. The recent bad experience with the Multics time sharing operating system development had made Bell Laboratories sensitive to that sort of cost blowout so the project was not widely promoted until the first working version was complete.

Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie

Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie

So what did C bring to the table that made it such a valuable asset? Here is a list:

  • can be used to directly interface to and manipulate hardware and IO
  • so it allows you to get close to the hardware itself
  • was a procedural programming language supporting structured programming
  • can be used to write an operating system
  • or sits very close to the operating system
  • had flexible naming conventions
  • had flexible memory allocation (static, local, global and dynamic)
  • could be compiled to machine language with a relatively simple compiler
  • is portable (mostly)
  • compiles to very fast executing code
  • compiled program can run without an operating system and do not need a virtual machine or any other components

The disadvantage compared to more modern procedural programming languages is that you usually do more typing to achieve the same outcome, it isn’t object oriented by nature and the variable typing is flexible so you can create some spectacular program failures if you get the cast wrong or convert a void pointer (no type associated with it) to the wrong data type. And one big compatibility issue is Endianness where different computing architectures store multi-byte data with the high byte at the top or bottom of the word so you can’t just swap binary data and expect it to always work. So you surely you would think we would have moved on to something better?

Programming Language Usage Trends

A recent study of computer language trends over the past 10 years by Embedded Gurus shows that unlike the anticipated rise of the C++ Programming Language in embedded systems, the use of C is rising and C++ falling. You can read the full article at C: The Immortal Programming Language where we see that Assembly Language use is falling as expected, the use of  C Programming Language is actually rising.

Programming Language Use Trends

Programming Language Use Trends

Now to be clear, this is for Embedded Software Development. In Top Programming Languages 2017 we see that Python is the most used programming language in the world across all domains with the  C Programming Language coming in second overall. This is a very big jump for Python but also a jump for the C Programming Language.

Successful Endeavours Programming Languages

At Successful Endeavours the majority of our embedded systems code is written using the C Programming Language . Our Windows code is a mixture of C and C++. For website development it is PHP and Python. So that’s 4 of the top 10 programming languages listed in Top Programming Languages 2017 .

Top Programming Languages 2017

Top Programming Languages 2017

So I expect we will be continuing to program systems using C for quite some time to come. Especially smaller system that don’t have an Operating System. Now maybe someone should focus a but more attention on teaching C to the next generation of programmers.

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 © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Embedded Systems Safety

In The Internet of Insecure Things we got a glimpse into the source of some of those security issues. Today we benefit from another infographic reproduced courtesy of the Barr Group. This time it is a look at the underlying Software Security that is so important to improving the future and no making it even more vulnerable. So read through the list of areas you might not be paying enough attention to. I know there are a couple we are still working on.

The State Of Embedded Systems Safety

The State Of Embedded Systems Safety

Food for thought. Above I reproduced a low resolution version with their permission. You can get a full resolution version by registering at the Barr Group website.

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 © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Insecurity in Cyberspace

This is not one of those topics that makes you feel better initially. In IoT Security we looked at how the emerging IoT world needed to protect itself against attacks. This is a different problem to pure Software Security which has its own challenges.

It was with recent interest that I received a copy of the Barr Group 2018 Embedded Systems Safety & Security Survey . We contribute and so get access to a free copy. I recommend you do the same if this is an area of interest.

They have also put together an infographic that speaks to the The Internet of Insecure Things and I am reproducing a low resolution version here with their permission. You can get a full resolution version by registering at the Barr Group website.

The Internet Of Insecure Things

The Internet Of Insecure Things

It speaks to where the insecure aspects come from. As usual, better Embedded Software Development practice leads to better and more secure products.

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 © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Light L16 Wins CES Award

Yesterday I wrote an update on the Light L16 and how it was a good example of Disruptive Innovation in Photography. 

Light L16

Light L16

Today I learn that CES agrees and awarded it the CES 2018 Best of Innovation: Digital Imaging.

CES 2018 Best of Innovation

CES 2018 Best of Innovation

There are now several industry articles recognising the significance of the multi-camera technology. For additional details see:

The last link is a Wired review from mid 2017 and is a good reflection on both the promise and challenge of new technology as well as how much time it can take to overcome those challenges.

So congratulations again to the team at Light.

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 © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Disruptive Innovation

Clayton Christensen in his book The Innovator’s Dilemma showed us that the business drivers of our current customers blinds us to emerging but currently unsuitable technology that eventually takes over our market. This has led to a focus on Innovation that looks to be disruptive as its primary goal. And I have come to the conclusion that this has hampered our attempts at Innovation. We have set the bar too high. And this isn’t what Innovation was about. Just a way of looking at a specific type of Innovation.

OK, I wrote the above as part of my review of of Frank Connolly of Think Quick and his approach to Practical Innovation. So Google knows I’m plagiarising myself. But here is where the relevance kicks in.

Light - a new camera concept

Light – a new camera concept

In my article on Light Cameras I covered a new concept in camera’s developed by Dr Rajiv Laroia who co-founded Light. The Light L16 is a new camera concept using multiple lenses and cameras to fuse a composite image given focal ranges and exposure ranges not possible in conventional cameras. An excellent example of disrupting innovation. and also an excellent example of The Innovator’s Dilemma.

Announced in 2016 and expected to be ready that year it was not shipping until mid 2017. Why? Because it is hard to do and the ASIC development was late and the core idea of doing the fusion inside the camera in real time is proving harder than expected and data transfers are too slow (they are transferring 16 cameras worth of data for 1 picture) and focus isn’t good enough and low light performance also isn’t good enough and did I mention it is hard!

I’m still impressed with the idea. But like all true disruptions it isn’t good enough when it first launches. Look at the modern DSLR. It shows you the picture you will take, it is seconds from taking the picture to being able to look at it. Focus is multi zone and you can decide how sharp or soft you want it and where. Auto exposure can handle high backlight shots and a wide range of light conditions. Fantastic. And decade in the making. The Light L16 isn’t surpassing it yet but you can see the trajectory and the camera of the future shows its potential now in what they are doing.

I’m also impressed with the open approach they are taking with customers. In a recent article Dr Rajiv Laroia explained why the Light L16 was delayed, how they were supporting their customers and what the plan for addressing the issues is. An excellent example of Collaboration with their customers rather than bunkering down defensively.

This still looks like it will be a success. It will just take longer than any of us expected.

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 © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Precision Electronic Technologies Supplier Award

2017 was a big year at Successful Endeavours. Lots of new projects and some world first products as well as operating out of our New Premises in Narre Warren and adding some staff. One of the things that makes it possible for us to complete Product Development project quickly is the local Australian suppliers that support us so well.

So it is with great pleasure that we awarded Precision Electronic Technologies with our Supplier Award for 2017 for offering us both the flexibility we needed and very rapid turnaround so our clients could get to market on time and secure new business because of that.

Precision Electronics Technology Supplier Award 2017

Precision Electronics Technology Supplier Award 2017

This was particularly important for 2 projects in particular.

IND Technology EFD SWER

IND Technology provide Early Fault Detection systems for the electrical distribution grid. These devices use the atomic clocks in the GPS network to time synchronise 250MHz sampling of electrostatic transients in the distribution grid and logging that, some FFT results and some other calculations to determine where in the grid there is activity typical of pending equipment failure due to things like partial discharge. They also get some statistics on overall grid health levels. The data is logged and uploaded at 1 second intervals.

Precision Electronics Technology Staff

Precision Electronics Technology Staff

So find potential faults early before you have shrapnel, unplanned outages or a fire.

The 3 phase version won the PACE Zenith Award for Best Networking Implementation for Australia in 2016.

This new version does the same thing but for rural SWER (Single Wire Earth Return) networks and are solar powered. There was a tight installation deadline to get them into the field before the fire season started.

So 4 new PCBs designed including an 8 layer PCB for the FPGA and 250MHz ADC sampling IC. And built in 4 weeks to first samples for testing. Because of that Precision Electronic Technologies made it possible for IND Technology to meet their delivery schedule.

So flexibility, on time delivery and fast turnaround made an impossible project possible.

IND Technology EFD

IND Technology Early Fault Detection

arcHUB

The second project was the Active Reactor arcHUB Smart City Sensor. This is a new type of device that does not need an electrician to install it. They can be solar powered or primary battery powered with field life of up to 5 years and a huge range of possible sensor options.

Precision Electronics Technology Award Presentation

Precision Electronics Technology Award Presentation

In order to bid on local council smart city projects the product development had to happen quickly and the manufacturing as well. Again, Precision Electronic Technologies came through turning around 2 new PCB designs rapidly so that we could complete the development and have enough units for a first trial deployment. As a result, Active Reactor won the contract for their first Smart Cities deployment.

So again, agility and responsive supply allowed another Australian manufacturing success.

 

arcHUB trial at Fitzroy Gardens

arcHUB trial at Fitzroy Gardens

And also lead to the arcHUB Smart City Sensor being nominated for the Agilent Award for Innovation in Analytical Science for Australia in 2017.

Here is a list of features you won’t find combined together in conventional devices:

  • battery operated (either solar charged or primary cells)
  • minimum 2 year battery life for standard AA cell alkaline batteries
  • 10+ day running time if solar charging is lost
  • up to 20 days on board non-volatile storage
  • compact form factor
  • multiple sensor types per node (up to 20)
  • sensor area network to minimise data costs
  • over the air firmware upgrades
  • over the air configuration updates
  • variable sample rates and upload timing
  • still has to be low cost to make and also run
  • easy to install

So here is the range of sensors already trialed:

  • wind speed (external anemometer attached)
  • sunlight level
  • night light level (street light monitoring etc)
  • temperature
  • PM2.5 particulate levels
  • PM10 particulate levels
  • Gasses – CO, H2S, SO2, NO2, H2S
  • Humidity
  • People counting (PIR based anonymous counting)
  • Soil moisture levels (external probe)
  • USB charger current (for usage analysis)

It is also the HUB and coordinator of a Sensor Area Network that can include modules that can measure any of the above as well as:

  • vibration
  • shock
  • movement
  • water level
  • GPS location
  • counting any device or system that has a pulse output
  • analog voltage measurements (AC and DC)
  • Sound and Noise

Launching a new electronics product is never easy, but working with the right design team and suppliers can give you a much better chance of success. So we commend  Precision Electronic Technologies for their excellent service and look forward to bringing many more new products onto the Australian and world markets in partnership with them.

Precision Electronics Technologies

Precision Electronics Technologies

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 © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

IEEE

IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, is the largest professional engineering body in the world and has a world wide focus. I am a Senior Member and have always found it worthwhile. In the days before the Internet was as useful as it is now, they were the best source of regular and up to date news about technology advances and what was happening in the world of technology.

IEEE - Advancing Technology for Humanity

IEEE – Advancing Technology for Humanity

IEEE Collabratec

IEEE Collabratec

IEEE Collabratec

A great example of this is the IEEE Collabratec platform. This fosters Collaboration over a very wide range of topics including ethics. I’m a regular contributor and was very pleased to see the figures for the its use in 2017. Check out the graphic below. Click on it to get a larger version that will be easier to read.

IEEE Collabratec 2017

IEEE Collabratec 2017

So a very good year for Collaboration.

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 © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

CES 2018

The annual Consumer Electronics Show has wrapped up in Las Vegas and a lot of exciting announcements were made. IEEE Spectrum CES2018 has put together a summary. Here are some that I found particularly interesting.

IEEE Spectrum

IEEE Spectrum

5G

5G is expected to launch ahead of schedule with phone manufacturers supporting it toward the end of 2018 and carriers in 2019. It will need a lot more base stations so one of the challenges is how much equipment will be needed for field deployments, and where the workforce to do it will come from.

As an interim measure, Gigabit LTE is already coming online.

Read more at 5G News and Nuggets.

Safe Water from Air

This class of product has been speculated about for a while. So it was great to see a viable example on show. It includes a solar panel to create the energy needed to extract the water. I found it a little odd that the target market for this is the US. The greatest need is in the developing world.

Zero Mass - Clean Water From Air

Zero Mass – Clean Water From Air

The breakthrough idea is using materials that absorb water then heating them to get the water released. Electronic approaches up to now have used cooling which require a lot more energy.

The business model idea is to decentralise water. Like all new technologies, there are a lot of ecosystem issues to be worked through. The great thing is this can be an emergency response option when disasters create a clean water crisis.

Read more at Zero Mass Clean Water From Air.

Gadgets

CES is definitely gadget central. Some are obviously great ideas. And some look a bit crazy at first, until you think about it a bit:

  • HushMe stops your phone conversation being overheard by others
  • Somnox is a robot that helps you sleep better
  • Gemini PDA – should work commercially but it does
  • Fordward CX-1 luggage that follows you around (Discworld anyone)
  • Hip’Air air bags for you hips which inflate if you are falling
  • FoldiMate folds clothes for you
  • DroneHunter is a drone that hunts drones. Being pestered? Get a DroneHunter.
  • Percept and Me.mum work out when a woman is fertile
  • M1 Fetus Camera lets you take your own ultrasounds once you are pregnant
  • Puffco and Oblend target the emerging legal cannabis market
  • Prosthesis is a full sized exoskeleton

The complete rundown is at CES2018 Best and Craziest Gadgets.

Cars

You would think self-driving cars would get the biggest wrap, but it was the first remote controlled car on public roads that got the attention. Phantom demoed driving from 500km away. The biggest issue here is still latency so this one probably con’t go mainstream until 5G rolls out.

Phantom Remote Controlled Car

Phantom Remote Controlled Car

This and lots more news about transportation options including new electric vehicles can be found at CES2018 Remote Controlled Car.

Robots

Were everywhere. Including serving hotel guests and doing deliveries. Delivery Robots are Full Time.

Blockchain

I’m including this one because there is a lot of hype and the computing power to use it make it unusable for many applications. But like AI, the increasing power of hand held computing devices like mobile phones means that we are approaching the point where this can be done in devices, or done in the cloud. For the latter, we need high speed data and low latency. Then the phone can offload the most difficult or memory hungry operations to a cloud service and get the results back. This will open up a lot of new opportunities.

That’s it for now. You can check it out in detail at IEEE Spectrum CES2018.

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 © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Top 100 Global Technology Leaders

Thomas Reuters have released their list of the Top 100 Global Technology Leaders and here is a summary. The original article appears at Top 100.

Top 10 Global Technology Leaders

  • Microsoft
  • Intel Corp
  • Cisco Systems
  • Apple
  • Alphabet
  • IBM
  • Texas Instruments
  • Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing
  • SAP
  • Accenture

10 Global Technology Leaders outside the US

This is a list of the 10 companies outside the US that made the Top 100 Global Technology Leaders list.

  • Computershare – Australia
  • Capgemini – France
  • Ericcson – Sweden
  • Infosys – India
  • Lenovo – China
  • Nokia – Finland
  • ZTE Corporation – China
  • LG Electronics – Korea
  • NEC – Japan
  • Tencent – China

It is good to see an Australian company on the list.

1o0 Global Technology Leaders outside the US

And now for the complete list with links and country. The list is in alphabetical order.

Company name Country/region of headquarters
Accenture Ireland
Acer Taiwan
Adobe United States of America
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) United States of America
Advantest Japan
Akamai Technologies United States of America
Alphabet United States of America
Amazon United States of America
Amdocs United States of America
Analog Devices United States of America
Apple United States of America
Applied Materials United States of America
ARRIS International  United States of America
ASE Group Taiwan
ASM Pacific Technology  Hong Kong
ASUS Taiwan
Atos France
Autodesk United States of America
CA Technologies United States of America
Canon Japan
Capgemini France
Celestica Canada
CGI Canada
Cisco  United States of America
Cognizant United States of America
CommScope United States of America
Computacenter United Kingdom
Computershare Australia
dormakaba  Switzerland
DXC Technology United States of America
eBay Inc. United States of America
Ericsson Sweden
Facebook United States of America
FUJIFILM Japan
Fujikura Ltd. Japan
Fujitsu Ltd. Japan
Gemalto Netherlands
HCL Technologies Ltd. India
Hewlett Packard Enterprise United States of America
HP United States of America
IBM United States of America
Infineon Technologies Germany
Infosys India
Intel United States of America
Intuit United States of America
Lam Research  United States of America
Leidos United States of America
Lenovo China
LG Electronics Korea; Republic (S. Korea)
LITE-ON Technology Taiwan
ManTech International Corporation United States of America
Mastercard United States of America
Micron Technology United States of America
Microsoft United States of America
Motorola Solutions United States of America
Nanya Technology Taiwan
National Instruments  United States of America
NCR Corporation United States of America
NEC Japan
Nokia
Finland
Nvidia United States of America
NXP Semiconductors Netherlands
Oki Electric Industry Co., Ltd. Japan
ON Semiconductor United States of America
Oracle United States of America
PEGATRON Corporation Taiwan
Powertech Technology Inc. Taiwan
Qisda Corporation Taiwan
Qualcomm United States of America
Quanta Computer Taiwan
Renesas Electronics Corporation Japan
ROHM Japan
Salesforce United States of America
Samsung Electronics  Korea; Republic (S. Korea)
SAP Germany
Seiko Epson Corporation Japan
Sharp Corporation Japan
Siliconware Precision Industries Ltd. (SPIL) Taiwan
SK Hynix Inc. Korea; Republic (S. Korea)
SONY Japan
Sopra Steria France
STMicroelectronics Switzerland
Symantec Corporation United States of America
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (TSMC) Taiwan
Tata Consultancy Services India
Tech Mahindra India
Tencent China
Teradata United States of America
Texas Instruments United States of America
Tieto Finland
Tokyo Electron Japan
Total System Services (TSYS) United States of America
Unisys United States of America
United Microelectronics Corporation Taiwan
VMware United States of America
Wipro India
Wistron Corporation Taiwan
Workday United States of America
Xerox Corporation United States of America
ZTE Corporation China

 

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 © 2018 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

IoT Change Catalyst

The Internet of Things, or IoT, continues to break new ground. Although there are still many things to be worked out, there is no doubt it will create new opportunities and enable value propositions previously unimaginable.

So I was please when Garrick Stanford from RS Components sent me an infographic looking at the way the Internet of Things will drive change. Here is his introduction.

‘Sometime ago we discussed exactly what the internet of things is. Well here we’re going to take a closer look at how it is going to change your life – and how that has started already. More and more technology and everyday devices and tools are now connected to the internet – think about your phone and TV, for instance. But here we’ll examine how the amount of connected devices that we use is going to hugely increase and how that will affect our lives.’
IoT Infographic on Change

IoT Infographic on Change

The one things we can be sure of is that this is but the start.

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 © 2017 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

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