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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk


Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

A Call for More Semiconductor Companies to Participate in Start-Ups Mark Patrick

I was lucky enough, to attend the IoT and Connected Hardware Showcase in London at the end of last year. This was just one of a series of intense, highly rewarding and increasingly popular assemblies that have been organised by Hardware Pioneers, and which Mouser has given its support to. With over 700 people registering for it, and a busy, highly positive atmosphere evident throughout the evening, there seems little doubt that the industry needs more of this sort of activity.

It was great to see companies of all scales participating. Along with Mouser, other established international brands included Texas Instruments, Würth and IDT. These were side-by-side with numerous aspiring start-up ventures, which covered a diverse range of IoT-related application areas—wearable technology, smart agriculture, and advanced audio devices.

Blaze” was one of the fledgling firms to be exhibiting its technology. It has developed laser-based lighting products for bikes to deliver maximum visibility and ensure rider safety. These lights have already been fitted to all of the 11,500 Santander-sponsored rental bikes that are dispersed around London. It is the IoT aspect that is being brought into the next generation products that is particularly interesting though. Through use of accelerometers, GPS tracking and a whole host of other sensing and connectivity functionality, bike rental operators will be given the diagnostic/logistical information they need to work out where they should place more capacity and make improvements to operational efficiency levels.

Nearby was “Beeline”, which has developed a smart compass for cyclists. Thanks to its intuitive HMI on this handlebar-mounted device, it minimises distractions and avoids the need for a smartphone or GPS unit to be consulted. The HMI displays a simple arrow for the rider to keep following and a distance to the next waypoint.

Felcana” enables owners to monitor the condition of their pets (by acquiring data relating to their activity levels, behaviour, etc.). It is able to do this through advanced analytics plus an ecosystem of interconnected smart devices (which are attached to a dog or cat collar, as well as being located in key places around the home). Data is passed back to a smartphone app (which runs on iOS and Android) via Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connectivity.

Trackner” has taken this idea and scaled it up to larger creatures. Sensors placed in a horse’s girth strap and bib can provide information on its fitness, as well as enabling health problems to be identified and dealt with at an earlier stage.

Continuing the heath/wellbeing theme, “LYS” is a light tracking wearable device which looks to address the rising number of people living in the urban environment who suffer with sleep issues or seasonable affective disorders. Through it, the user is able to make the most of the natural light during the day, while avoiding the impact of harmful blue light at night - thereby allowing healthier sleep/wake cycles to be adopted. The wearable unit (which is up on Kickstarter now) tracks light and its accompanying app supplies feedback on how the user can improve their habits so that their daily light intake is optimised.

Kokoon” is tackling the problem of sleeplessness from a totally different angle - rather than light, it is using sound. With an engineering/executive team made up of former Cambridge Consultants, Apple, Cisco and Fitbit employees, the company has developed headphones with active noise cancellation technology, plus built-in EEG sensors. Via these sensors the wearer’s brain activity can be monitored in order to gain a better understanding of how they respond to audio and then automatically adjust the output in real-time to get the best results.

Other highlights included the “Micro Drone 2.0+” . This is the world’s smallest drone capable of carrying a HD camera. It maintains stability thanks to a 6-axis gyroscope and can quickly switch between normal flight mode and stunt mode. A pre-programmed algorithm allows it to carry out 360-degree mid-air flips, while attaching inverted blades means that it can fly upside down.

Helping makers to experiment with different connectivity options for their prototypes, so that they can maximise the effectiveness of their system layout, Harwin’s Spring Contact Development Kit comprises 16 different contact types. This gives instant access to a broad variety of contacts, rather than having to wait for different samples to arrive. These contacts can be replenished for free as required.

Using “Zio Health’s” MilkSafe device, mothers can analyse the molecular content of breast-milk so that the levels of Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, DHA and IgA are all accurately determined. “Bar Conductive’s” Electric Paint Lamp Kit gives artistically creative types the key elements they need to make imaginative paper lamp designs with customised touch sensitive buttons. 

As co-founder of Hardware Pioneers, Fabiano Bellisario explains, “From the feedback we have had tonight it is clear that the Hardware Pioneers concept is continuing to gain ever greater momentum. There is a thriving, vibrant electronic engineering community out there and organising these events gives everyone a unique opportunity to learn about what other people are doing, discuss their own ideas and hopefully find new inspiration. The next stage for us,” he continues, “is to encourage more of the larger semiconductor companies to get involved and engage with the various starts-ups we are showcasing at these gatherings.”

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Part of Mouser's EMEA team in Europe, Mark joined Mouser Electronics in July 2014 having previously held senior marketing roles at RS Components. Prior to RS, Mark spent 8 years at Texas Instruments in Applications Support and Technical Sales roles and holds a first class Honours Degree in Electronic Engineering from Coventry University.

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