Design Con 2015

What consumer electronics owes to embedded technology

January 06, 2014

Bernard Cole-January 06, 2014

About this time every year, I anticipate the coming of the Consumer Electronics Show, which opens tomorrow in Las Vegas. I get a charge out of seeing the marvelous – and occasionally marvelously inane - consumer electronics systems and devices on display.

The list is long: Personal computers, mobile tablets and smartphones, web-enabled TVs, home networks, sensor-enhanced home automation systems, hundreds of small dedicated consumer widgets, and this year, wearable IP-enabled “things” that link to your mobile devices and tablets, laptops, PCs, or even television sets..

I spend a lot of time either on line or at CES (when I get a chance to attend), discovering and counting how many of the devices at the show fall under the definition of embedded devices and systems - dedicated, single-function systems where users are not aware they are interacting with a computer – and learning how they are designed.

Even non-embedded exceptions such as general purpose personal computers, mobile tablets, and smartphones are home to numerous embedded MCUs that offload the many deterministic and real time gesture and touch interface operations and management chores involved in USB, I2C, and other serial connections between peripheral functions and the main CPU.

All of these consumer devices also depend on an embedded communications and networking infrastructure: backbone Internet servers and routers, Wi-Fi and cellular base stations, among other elements. And with the ubiquitous adoption of the “Internet of Things,” an even more powerful and flexible embedded infrastructure will be needed.

Basing my choices on what I found in my initial online survey of the activity at the 2014 CES, this week’s Tech Focus newsletter includes some of the more recent design articles about the embedded technologies and systems upon which many of the devices and systems at the CES depend. My Editor’s Top Picks are:

Using fastpath software to boost performance of Linux-based home network routers
Design of a Linux-based fast-path software implementation of a (SOHO) traffic router using Marvell’s ARMv5TE-compatible Sheeva-based architecture.

Achieving better voice quality: why smartphones need 3 microphones
Smart phones suffer from severe signal quality problems due to their physical design. But new audio processing algorithms are emerging that can help.

Reducing display power to extend mobile battery life
Techniques for use on ARM-based mobile smartphones and tablet computers to reduce the power dissipation of display subsystems and provide longer battery life even during multimedia activities.

Other Embedded.com design articles that I recommend include:

Developing OpenCV computer vision apps for the Android platform
How to manage power in capacitive touch sensing designs
Maintaining good user experience as touch screen size increases
One port to do it all: USB 3.0 in next-generation smart phones and tablets

Embedded.com Site Editor Bernard Cole is also editor of the twice-a-week Embedded.com newsletters as well as a partner in the TechRite Associates editorial services consultancy. He welcomes your feedback. Send an email to bccole@acm.org, or call 928-525-9087.

See more articles and columns like this one on Embedded.com. Sign up for the Embedded.com newsletters. Copyright © 2013 UBM--All rights reserved.

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