Embedded Editor Report: Innovation Through Iteration
January 12, 2024
It’s my last day roaming the halls at this CES celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the CTIA, and despite the encroaching exhaustion (don’t worry, it’s my fault) and probable stress fractures in my feet (a hyperbole, but not-inaccurate assessment), it’s been a really great week.
The energy of CES 2024 is about pushing forward, adapting, and making the tactical and incremental advancements that are where real engineering and development live. Today, many of the folks I spoke to weren’t showing off “new” technology, but instead improvements upon existing tech and materials for current application needs. Don’t take that as a criticism because it is quite the opposite. The ever-hungry hype cycle and the driving need to announce the “best-in-class industry-leading bleeding-edge” new device or “killer app” is perhaps useful in marketing (doubt), but engineering needs more down to earth thinking to be truly productive, collaborative, and inventive. And that’s what I saw from so many of the folks I’ve interviewed this week.
Today, I met with a company called Delvitech in the SwissTech pavilion that is using computer vision for optical inspections, which isn’t new of course, but has engineered its multi-camera setup and AI model to create truly hi-res inspection images with predictive fault recognition and avoidance.
Ethernovia is a company leveraging ethernet cable in automotive applications to simplify wiring, integrate data, and increase bandwidth while conserving weight and energy while also meeting strict security benchmarks.
Septentrio is leveraging GNSS and intelligent engineering to create highly precise location services down to centimeter accuracy. It’s already in use in rail, some electric vehicles, industrial, agricultural, and the US Government. It’s done, in part, by comparing satellite data with highly calibrated reference stations on the ground and correcting the satellite by as much as a meter of inaccuracy. It’s so accurate that the tech is in use to detect and issue earthquake warnings in California.
I could go on for weeks, but I’ll wrap up (for now) with Navitas. The company has seen silicon at, or approaching, the ceiling of usefulness with respect to power management. For processing, silicon is still king, but in power management it just can’t handle the loads required by modern and future AI-enabled devices, servers, and vehicles. To address this, the company has been developing and deploying power management chips and systems made of Gallium Nitrate (GaN) and for truly heavy loads, Silicon Carbide. These materials allow transformers to handle much larger loads at similar size profiles or be shrunk by huge margins if the power load isn’t the problem and the form factor is. The potential for these devices, especially GaN, in my opinion, is huge and came about through simple materials science and good engineering.
That’s all for my live CES reports, but I’ll be following up on AI, automotive, power management and lots of other Embedded topics from this week throughout the year, so don’t touch that dial and I’ll see you next time.