ESC is no CES (Consumer Electronics Show), and that's good. At media-hyped and -centric events such as CES, hundreds of companies vie for major media coverage, which requires ever-increasing levels of stunts and claims and PR hoopla. The folks at the Embedded Systems Conference, in contrast, are there to deliver key tools and building blocks, and products that solve specific problems. I didn't see any local TV crews filming a compiler or debugger in action. I did see companies providing hardware and software resources to help attendees get their task done effectively and efficiently. ESC attendees are not on a path of media glory; instead, they are doing hard but often underappreciated work.
One thing I did not see, but missed from past ESC events, are the live-action demos at various booths: robotic arms stacking blocks, model cars and trains running on complex paths, conveyors sorting good versus defective widgets, and similar. One of the most effective booth exhibits I saw several years ago was a machine-vision and robotic setup, where the booth visitor would scramble a Rubik's cube, place it between the two robotic grippers, and the demo would unscramble the cube in about 30 seconds of high-speed twists and turns. Perhaps these complex setups are now too expensive to develop, or too much of a headache to ship and setup, but I do miss them!
Bill Schweber is the editor in chief of Planet Analog after serving for over 10 years as analog Technical Editor and Executive Editor of EDN, a publication for design engineers. He holds BSEE and MSEE degrees specializing in communication systems and signal processing, is a Registered Professional Engineer, and holds both FCC Amateur Radio and Commercial Operator's licenses. You can contact Bill at .