by Stephen Evanczuk
With Apple’s anticipated announcement on September 10 of not one but two new iPhone models, speculation on the features and designs of the new iPhones has revolved around expectations for faster, more feature-rich smartphones built around Apple’s recently released iOS 7, featuring its new “flat-design” look. In fact, even the product name is matter of conjecture at this point, but economics suggests that the new phones will emerge as variants of Apple’s current flagship, the iPhone 5.
As a result, rather than expect to see an “iPhone 6″ with significant hardware changes, a safe bet lies with expectation that the new models will bracket the iPhone 5 with upgraded features in the iPhone 5S and a reduced price point in the iPhone 5C – targeting business/professional users and students/ users, respectively. Accordingly, the two models are likely to target the sweet spot of design, feature set, and price for those market segments.
Teardown preview: Inside the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C - [Link]
Researchers at Harvard University have demonstrated a new type of loudspeaker transducer which works on a different principle to the conventional moving coil design. It is made up of a thin sheet of transparent rubber sandwiched between two layers of salt water gel. A modulated high voltage signal passed across the two outer gel layers exerts pressure on the rubber membrane, causing it to vibrate and produce sound. The prototype speaker has a frequency response from 20 to 20 kHz.
The effect is produced by the electrical charges carried by ions and not the movement of electrons so strictly speaking this is not an electronic device. The new transducer could be used as an adaptive lens in an optical system or as a window-mounted noise cancellation device. The electrolyte gel is biocompatible so there could also be applications as artificial skin or muscle. [via]
Ionic Gel Speaker - [Link]
MIT has designed an ultra-low cost “flow” battery that it claims will store 10-times as much energy as lithium-ion while consuming 10,000 times less power, making it a candidate to meet the Department of Energy’s target of less than $100 per kilowatt-hour for grid-scale deployment. [via]
MIT’s flow battery simplifies rechargeable technology by eliminating the ion-exchange membranes. The lower solid graphite electrode reduces liquid bromine to hydrobromic acid, while hydrogen is oxidized at the upper porous electrode.
Flow Batteries Go Mainstream - [Link]
Steven Keeping writes:
LEDs are a rapidly maturing technology that is making big inroads into the conventional lighting market. However, it is not the only new lighting technology in town. Organic LEDs (OLEDs) are now being considered as an option for some architectural lighting applications after gaining popularity as a display technology offering vibrant color without backlighting. OLEDs differ from conventional LEDs in that the electroluminescence is not derived from a semiconductor junction, but is generated from a film of organic compound. That makes OLEDs simple to manufacture into large, lightweight, and even flexible panels. However, despite some key advantages over traditional LEDs, the devices are not yet available as a commercial lighting option primarily due to low efficiency and high costs compared to solid-state light sources. This article describes the performance of today’s commercial-lighting OLEDs and compares it to established technologies, including LEDs.
OLEDs Move Closer to Mainstream Lighting - [Link]
According to researchers at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, graphene can increase the sensitivity of micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) sensors by up to 100 times due to exteme thinness of graphene films compared to other piezoresistive materials.
Piezoresistive pressure sensors typically integrate silicon piezoresistors into sensor membranes so that strain can be read in terms of resistance. The MEMS version suspends the membrane over a cavity by etching out the underying silicon dioxide. In the KTH version, an extremely thin layer of graphene is suspended over a cavity etched into a silicon dioxide layer on a silicon substrate. The extreme thinness of the graphene membrane – less than a nanometer with a monolayer membrane – increases the sensitivity of the electromechanical effect. [via]
Graphene Beats Silicon in Strain Gauges - [Link]
by Steve Taranovich
The following is a white paper by Silicon Labs with an innovative new process and technology that I believe deserves some level of detail and explanation for informative and educational purposes for EDN readers. Learning about this technology will help all designers give birth to new ideas and architectures as well as help those other designers to effectively integrate this type of product into their systems,
CMEMS® technology is an innovative CMOS + MEMS manufacturing process developed by Silicon Labs, a leading supplier of timing solutions. The term CMEMS is a contraction of the acronyms CMOS and MEMS (microelectromechanical systems). CMEMS technology offers many benefits over traditional oscillator approaches, ranging from scalability, customer-specific programmability and 0-day samples, to long-term reliability and performance. This white paper describes CMEMS process technology, existing hybrid oscillator architectures and the Si501/2/3/4 (Si50x) CMEMS oscillator architecture.
CMEMS oscillator architecture - [Link]
These recent breakthroughs in electrical component technology are likely to have a significant impact on the electronics industry – and on people’s everyday lives.
Your’e probably aware of the superstar conductor of the future, Graphene: “A wonder material that is the world’s thinnest, strongest and most conductive material with the potential to revolutionise diverse applications; from smartphones and ultrafast broadband to drug delivery and computer chips”.
New electronic components will change lives in 2014 - [Link]
Battery capacity is doubling every ten years. According to this statement, we may have to wait another ten years to see a functional quadrocopter capable of carrying a human being. The drones of today are very popular and versatile, but the duration of their batteries is limited and cannot carry much weight.
Not willing to wait for decent batteries the three Czechoslovakian companies Duratec, Technodat and Evektor (no, not Elektor) have teamed up to design a flying bicycle that is weighing only 95 kg (without the cyclist or should we say pilot?). We do not understand very well why this has to be in the shape of a bike, because its maneuverability on the ground seems quite debatable.
The Flying Bicycle - [Link]
American Semiconductor has announced the FleX-MCU product family. The new FleX-MCU device is the world’s first physically flexible microcontroller fabricated using the manufacturer’s FleX silicon-on-polymer process. It is an 8-bit RISC device with 8 KB embedded RAM operating at up to 20 MHz, with a 1.2 V core and 2.5 V I/O. It features several serial interface peripherals, including UART, I²C and SPI.
FleX-MCU is the initial product of a family of physically flexible ICs. The FleX IC roadmap includes microcontrollers, analog-to-digital converters, RF wireless communication devices and non-volatile memory. [via]
A Really Flexible Microcontroller - [Link]