Design Con 2015

Tear Downs answer how and why (not just what)

Richard Nass

December 01, 2006

Richard NassDecember 01, 2006

Last month, I promised you that I wouldn't make any major changes to your magazine without checking with you first. This month, due to popular demand, I'm happy to say we're adding a section called Tear Down.

You may have heard this term before and may even have some notion as to what a Tear Down is. In general, the author of a Tear Down article takes apart (tears down) an end product that's currently shipping, such as a mobile handset, a digital camera, or some other interesting electronic device. Then, a parts list and bill of materials (BOM) is generated, and photographs are taken of the products' innards. Generally, that's the extent of the article.

The Tear Down articles you'll read in Embedded Systems Design will be different. Although you probably won't see the complete parts list and BOM, what you'll see is a thorough analysis of the design, including the complete design process. We'll take you from the design's conception, right up to its manufacture. You'll get an understanding of what the design process was, what the challenges were, and how those challenges were overcome.

We get this information by speaking directly to the designers of the product, as well as some of the suppliers of the internal components. We ask them questions like, "What competitive components did you evaluate?" and "What would you have done differently if you had a bigger design budget?" and "What did marketing really ask for?" and "What would you have done differently if you have an extra month of design time?" In many cases, you'll be surprised by their reponses (they may even elicit a chuckle or two).

Our Tear Down section will probably appear bimonthly. In the first Tear Down, we take apart a Logitech mouse. I know, I know, it's just a mouse. But when you understand the design, you'll see that it's really more than your typical mouse. In addition, it brought together design teams from all over the world. As you may know, it's not always easy to embed your software into hardware that's being developed on the other side of the globe.

By seeing how these designers overcame their various challenges, our hope is that, in the end, we'll help you overcome similar challenges. And if you find that there are questions related to your design that we're not asking (or you're just curious about), by all means, let us know.

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