ESC Boston: You should have been there!

May 16, 2017

Max The Magnificent-May 16, 2017

On the off-chance you didn’t make it to ESC Boston, I thought I'd share a few photos, videos, and links to other people's columns to make you realize that you really should have gone LOL.

First of all, as I mentioned in my Who, What, When & Where column, we held our traditional meet-up the night before the conference.

(Source: Max Maxfield /

Starting from the right and going anticlockwise, we have Jonathan Torkelson, President and Principal Engineer at Embeddetech. Next, we have Mark Dobrosielski, whose work is so secret we can’t talk about it here (in fact, now I come to think about it, Mark wasn't even there). Behind Mark we see Jacob Beningo, founder of the Beningo Embedded Group. Jacob has forgotten more about microcontrollers than I even knew.

At the back, we find Adam Taylor, founder of Adiuvo Engineering and Training. Adam has forgotten more about FPGAs than I ever knew. (Now I come to think about it, hanging out with these guys does nothing for my self-esteem.) The guy with the great big beaming smile is Mike Anderson, Chief Technical Officer at The PTR Group. Last, but certainly not least, we have my new chum Stephane Boucher, who owns the website.

All I can say is that a good time was has by all. Then, suddenly, it was the next morning. "Oh dear," I thought to myself (or words to that effect). As you can see from the photo below, the exhibit hall was bustling with activity.

(Source: Max Maxfield /

You can’t really make it out in this photo, but the ESC Engineering Theater is in the far right-hand corner of the hall. This is where I gave my various presentations. On the first day, my main session was on Advanced Technologies. This is where I described what was happening with regard to things like cognitive (thinking, reasoning) systems, artificial intelligence, deep learning, embedded speech, embedded vision, virtual reality, and artificial reality.

Stephane, who you may recall from the first photo, has a business taking photos and videos (including interviews) at conferences, and he kindly offered to record my Advanced Technologies session. In the photo below we see him setting up before the exhibit hall was opened up to the attendees.

(Source: Max Maxfield /

I was really looking forward to seeing this video and showing it to my dear old mom. We had a jam-packed crowd and mom would have loved to hear the cheers of delight, see the tears of joy, and observe the standing ovation I received at the end. I only wish you could see this also; unfortunately, it was not to be. Stephane says that the audio feed the AV guys provided to him was of such a low quality that he stopped recording after the first few minutes (a little tear is rolling down my cheek as I pen these words). On a happier note, Stephane also says he will re-record this presentation when I give it again at ESC Minneapolis in November.

Just to give you a tempting teaser, the following day when I hosted the Advanced Technologies Meet-Up, Stephane fitted me with his own radio microphone and recorded this video of the first few minutes of the session where I demonstrated a really cool embedded vision system that the folks at CEVA had loaned to me.

What we see here is my notepad computer (in the middle of the table) presenting a random series of images on a small monitor (on the right of the table). We also have a webcam pointed at the monitor. The output from the webcam is feeding an embedded vision system implemented using a deep learning inference engine running on CEVA's DSP IP, which -- for the purposes of this demo -- is implemented on a Xilinx FPGA. The inference engine identifies what it's looking at and displays the result on the big screen (you can just see the edge of this screen in the upper right-hand side of the video).

I have to say that this is so cool. When I was setting it up in the bay outside my office to check that I knew how to work everything before I set off for ESC, the other folks in the bay were standing around watching what was happening and exclaiming "No way!" (As soon as I get a spare moment, I'm going to set it up again and get all the folks in the building to come up and take a look.)

Actually, thinking about it, I'll start clearing an area as soon as I've posted this column, and I'll try to get the system up and running tomorrow. I'd love to video their reactions to show to you. But we digress...

For myself, I really enjoyed this ESC, and I heard great things about it from other attendees. I only wish I'd gotten to see more of the presentations, but I spent a huge amount of time sitting in the common areas chatting to people about all sorts of weird and wonderful "stuff."

I'd love to tell you more, but now I have the urge to set CEVA's embedded vision system up again, so I will bid you adieu. But don't despair, because I ran across this blog on LinkedIn that was written by someone who attended my Advanced Technologies talk (I hope you don’t have to be a member of LinkedIn to read it, but -- thinking about it -- you probably are, so that's all right).

And, last but not least (once again), we also have this Back from ESC Boston column by Stephane. As you'll see, Stephane starts by describing his "should I stay or should I go" deliberations before ESC. I was chatting to my chum, Patrick Mannion, after the conference. Patrick said that he'd read Stephane's blog and that he'd been going through the same thing. Eventually, Patrick decided that he'd got too much work going on and he decided not to attend, but he told me that reading Stephane's blog had made him regret his decision. What can I say? You snooze, you lose (LOL).

So, that's it for the moment. Did you attend ESC Boston 2017? If so, what were your impressions? If not, do you plan on attending ESC Minneapolis 2017 or ESC Silicon Valley 2017 later this year?

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