World’s Smallest MEMS Micro-Loudspeaker Saves 80 Percent More Energy

STMicroelectronics along with the audio company USound has created the first MEMS (Micro ElectroMechnical Systems) micro-loudspeaker based on semiconductors. It’s the smallest loudspeaker in the world, but it can produce a powerful noise. MEMS makes it possible. The speakers are being presented at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.

MEMS loudspeaker with extremely small dimensions along with low power consumption and good sound quality.
MEMS loudspeaker with extremely small dimensions along with low power consumption and good sound quality.

In the audio world, the electromechanical capabilities of MEMS have only been used to build tiny microphones. Speakers, on the other hand, still rely on traditional dynamic design principles. It has taken almost 150 years for semiconductor technology to replace Werner von Siemens’ superior loudspeaker principle in 1877 with something newer. The Coil-magnet combinations are still being used in smartphones, wearables, and headphones to produce sound.

We can understand the working principle of MEMS speaker very briefly here. At first, thin piezoelectric layers are applied to a semiconductor(Silicon). An electric signal is sent to the piezoelectric layer allowing the diaphragm connected to it vibrate. Eventually, the mechanical principle resembles that of a normal Coil-magnet loudspeaker. The sound is created by the vibration in the diaphragm. However, the magnet and coil are replaced by a piezo element. By applying this new technique, USound’s MEMS version appears to offer significant advantages when it comes to distortion and THD or Total Harmonic Distortion.

The MEMS loudspeaker developed by USound has dimensions of just 5 x 7 x 2 mm and has a frequency range of 2 to 15 kHz. It takes up half the space of its predecessors and needs only 20 percent of the energy that they do. The above figures are convincing enough for the speaker to be a perfect fit for mobile applications such as wearables and smartphones.

According to the manufacturer, these tiny speakers are the thinnest in the world. It has less than half the weight of a conventional Coil-magnet speaker. Most suitable applications include in many portable devices such as headphones, over-the-ear earphones, and more. With the help of this new speakers, augmented reality headsets or virtual reality systems can be more compact and comfortable. Innovative features also enable 3D sound production with striking accuracy. Its high efficiency reduces energy consumption and can easily be operated with much smaller and lightweight batteries. Higher efficiency results in less heat generated making systems operate cooler than ever before.

OpenMV- Machine Vision for Beginners

MV is the ability of a computer to see using analog to digital conversion and digital signal processing. The key characteristics that make a machine vision module better are sensitivity and resolution. These systems allow machines to see a broader spectrum of wavelengths such as x-rays, infrared or UV light. Nowadays, it is mainly used for object recognition, signature identification, material inspection, medical image analysis etc. Machine vision modules tend to be expensive which make them difficult to access for makers and hobbyists. OpenMV is a python powered machine vision module that aims at making MV accessible to beginners.

OpenMV was created by Hackaday user i.abdalkader and he worked towards making it affordable, small, open source and user friendly. It is programmable in python 3, and includes image processing libraries to make it easier. It is Based on STM32F ARM Cortex-M Digital Signal Controllers (DSCs) running at 168-216MH, and has an ATWINC1500 FCC Certified Wi-Fi module which can transmit data at up to 48Mbp. The image sensor used was a OV965x and a OV2640. Additionally, it has 512 KB of RAM and consumes 120 mA.

The libraries included give the MV the ability to detect shapes, faces, QR and barcodes, and it also has ORB key points detector, template matching with normalized cross correlation and more. The OpenMV includes I/O headers to connect shields to extend it´s capabilities. The IDE includes many features for image processing and it is based on QT creator. OpenMV has a micro SD card socket which allows for recording data, and the device measures 45 mm in length, 36 mm in width, 30 mm in height and only weights 16 g.

Few prototypes are already on pre-order for beta testing for $65 dollars on this website, they will only be selling about 10-30 of them. It has already been funded in Kickstarter with a huge success in 2015. Some applications might include drone flying, thermal/night imaging, line detection etc.

For beginners, this device could be a game changer for learning about machine vision, and creating projects. The easy to use IDE helps the user understand and code, but at the same time its open for users to modify and create as they see appropriate. The Wi-Fi module expands the capabilities and possibilities for using it, and the fast USB computer communication makes the device easy to work with. For an advanced use it has a long way to go, which includes improvements in image detection and analysis. The complete version is still not on sale, and a date has not been announced, but the project keeps being improved to provide users with a completely functional device and IDE.

[Source]

Raspberry Pi Zero WH – No Soldering Raspberry Pi Zero W

The Raspberry Pi Zero W is a single board computer and a great way to get started with learning coding and hardware projects. The “W” in the Raspberry Pi Zero signifies the board contains inbuilt Wifi and Bluetooth. Costing around $10, the Raspberry Pi Zero W is a great board to kickstart a lot of hardware projects and has found love in the maker’s community.

The Raspberry Pi Zero W is great but doesn’t feature any header pins which could be challenging for beginners, people that want to do a quick prototyping and the ones that don’t want to void the Pi Zero W warranty. Introducing the Raspberry Pi Zero WH, the Raspberry Pi Zero W with added 40 GPIO (General Purpose Input Output) male header pins.

Raspberry Pi Zero WH

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has removed the compulsory soldering barrier that comes with the Raspberry Pi Zero W by adding a pre-soldered 40-pin header to the Zero W. This Pi Zero WH is perfect for those who don’t own a soldering iron, hate soldering or who wants the extra soldering legwork done for them at a price of course.

The following are some of the specifications for the Pi Zero WH:

  • SoC – BCM2835 (same as Pi 1) but up-clocked to 1GHz, so 40% faster
  • RAM – 512MB RAM
  • Storage – microSD Slot
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.1 (Bluetooth Low Energy) and 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • USB – 1x Micro USB OTG port, 1x Micro USB port for Power.
  • Camera – CSI Camera Connector
  • Video – Mini HDMI port and composite Video
  • Power Supply – 5V DC Volts via micro USB port.
  • Dimensions – 65mm x 30mm x 5mm.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s community manager Ben Nuttall, wrote: “You can live boot the Raspberry Pi Desktop OS from a USB stick, use Linux PCs, or even install [the Pi OS] on old computers. Then you have really simple access to physical computing without full Raspberry Pi setups, and with no SD cards to configure.”

The Raspberry Pi Zero WH is available for purchase online and comes with a price tag of about £13.25 ($18.25), a difference of about $5 over the Pi Zero W. The Raspberry Pi Zero WH can be purchase from pimoroni and other Raspberry Pi retailers. More information can be found at the Raspberry Pi Blog announcement.

Omron’s New Super-Sensitive, Non-Contact MEMS Temp Sensor

There’s a new addition to the Omron thermal sensor family. The D6T-1A-02 is the latest in sensory innovation with super-sensitive, infra-red (IR), non-contact temperature sensing capabilities using MEMS technology.

The Omron D6T thermal sensor is ideal for building automation applications, measuring the temperature in a room, or detecting occupancy, even when people are stationary. Additionally, because the D6T is fully non-contact it offers a wider detection range, as well as ultra-sensitive heat sensors – an excellent alternative to PIR detectors and pyroelectric sensors.

Making full use of MEMS technology, the D6T includes:

  • The ability to measure surface temps anywhere between -40° to 80°C (-40°-176°F) with an accuracy of +/- 1.5°C, and resolution of 0.06°.
  • A state-of-the-art MEMS thermopile, a sensor ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit), and a signal processing microprocessor in a 12.0mm x 11.6mm x 9.2mm package.
  • A narrow field of view at 26.52, which allows for accurate readings of a specific object within range.

[via]

Omron’s New Super-Sensitive, Non-Contact MEMS Temp Sensor – [Link]

eVscope – Reaching for the stars as never before

Humanity has always been trying to reach for the stars, this lead to huge scientific developments that got the man into the moon, rovers into mars and a lot more. NASA often unveils photographs of space objects with bright colors and high definition, but these photos are taken using millions of dollars in telescopes and image software. Most amateur telescopes give blurry, opaque images (if you get to see anything at all). As a result, astronomy amateurs are often disappointed because of their high expectations regarding what they would see in the telescope. The company Unistellar optics combined two different technics to create a telescope that could fulfill hobbyist expectations.

As only a very small amount of light from stellar objects reaches earth, it’s important to collect as much light as possible which can be done with a lens (or mirror with a large diameter), or by exposing a photographic film for a long period of time. Nowadays, astronomers don´t use photographic film anymore because electronic cameras can take hundreds of pictures and overlap them to make one bright picture. However, the equipment to do all this can be expensive (professional camera, good telescope, mirrors with huge diameters), and they can also be complicated because of the need for a very dark sky, certain weather etc.

The eVscope (enhanced vision) made by Unistellar optics has a built in high quality image sensor, and instead of lenses an eye piece with an OLED display is used. Additionally, it has a computer controlled mount and drive, all in modest dimensions. It costs about 1300 dollars and works by taking short exposures and staking them in real time to simulate a larger instrument.

This device has already been tried by many amateur astronomers, and university students with very positive results. Also, the eVscope has an autonomous field detection which makes it easy for learners to pinpoint specific places, and with the smartphone connection capabilities people can save and share their pictures, and unlike other telescopes it is portable and autonomous. Currently, Unistellar optics has a Kickstarter campaign for this product with more than 2000 backers. eVscope is 100 times more powerful than a classical telescope and could change the way people see the sky and learn about astronomy.

[source]

Researchers Demonstrate New More Efficient FET By Implementing Negative Capacitance

A group of Researchers from Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana demonstrated the effect called negative capacitance by making a new type of more energy efficient transistor. This new kind of Field Effect Transistor (FET) proves a theory introduced in 2008 by Supriyo Datta, the Thomas Duncan Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Sayeef Salahuddin, who is a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.

A new type of transistor (a) harnesses a property called negative capacitance.
A new type of field effect transistor harnesses a property called negative capacitance.

The researchers from Purdue University made a much thinner layer using the semiconductor Molybdenum disulfide. It creates a channel adjacent to an important part of transistors called the gate. By using a “ferroelectric material” called hafnium zirconium oxide, they created a negative capacitor which is a key component in the newly designed gate.

Capacitance is the property of any dielectric or conductor to store electrical charge. It is ordinarily a positive quantity. With the help of ferroelectric materials, the new FET gate structure allows a negative capacitance. Due to this the energy needed to switch the FET is considerably reduced. This new design just substitutes hafnium oxide with hafnium zirconium oxide. Hafnium oxide is a conventional material to use in modern FETs as a dielectric material to isolate the gate. This work is led by Peide Ye, Richard J. and Mary Jo Schwartz of Purdue University.  Ye said,

The overarching goal is to make more efficient transistors that consume less power, especially for power-constrained applications such as mobile phones, distributed sensors, and emerging components for the internet of things

Transistors act like a tiny electronic switch. They can turn on and off very fast, allowing computers to process information in binary code. A proper switching off state is very important to ensure that no electricity “leaks” through. This switching normally needs a minimum of 60 millivolts for every tenfold increase in current. This requirement called the thermionic limit. However, transistors using negative capacitance can break this fundamental limit, because they can switch at far lower voltages resulting in smaller power consumption.

New findings from the research group have advanced the conventional transistor technology to a much efficient and faster level. Only time will justify if the new ‘negative capacitance‘ FETs can revolutionize the modern electronics.

Embedded oscilloscope family for advanced electronics

By Ally Winning @ eenewsembedded.com:

The R&S RTM3000 and R&S RTA4000 series oscilloscopes have been launched by Rohde & Schwarz to enable advanced power measurements and accurately analyse serial protocols.

The RTM3000 oscilloscopes have bandwidths of 100 MHz, 200 MHz, 350 MHz, 500 MHz and 1 GHz. The products also feature a 5 Gsample/s 10-bit ADC, and a 40 Msample (80 Msample interleaved) per channel acquisition memory with an optional 400 Msample segmented acquisition memory.

The RTA4000 oscilloscopes offer bandwidths of 200 MHz, 350 MHz, 500 MHz and 1 GHz. The oscilliscopes have the same 10-bit ADC, but have an enhanced memory of 100 Msample (200 Msample interleaved) per channel acquisition memory and included 1 Gsample (1,000 Msample) segmented acquisition memory. Both series have a 10.1″ capacitive touchscreen display.

Embedded oscilloscope family for advanced electronics – [Link]

DAC Shield For Arduino Nano using MCP4725

This project features an easy to use Digital to Analog converter (DAC) shield for Arduino Nano. The project is built using MC4725 12Bit DAC IC over I2C communication. The shield directly seats on Arduino Nano and also can be used as stand-alone DAC converter that can be connected to other micro-controller board with help of 5 pin header connector. Output is 0-5V. PCB jumper J1 provided to select the address in case of using multiple modules on the same I2C .

Shield also provided with high current driver circuit, which converters voltage to current and can be used to drive Laser diode or LED. Maximum possible load 500mA.

DAC Shield For Arduino Nano using MCP4725 – [Link]

SudoProc – A solderable 1.8GHz Quad Cortex-A17 module With 4GB RAM and HDMI 2.0

A Slovenia based startup Sudo Systems will soon launch a module called SudoProc. This module is highly compact (65 x 40 x 4.3mm) and solderable. It contains Rockchip’s 1.8GHz, quad-core, Cortex-A17 SoC RK3288 SoC with 600MHz Mali-T764 GPU. The highlighted feature set includes 4GB of dual-channel 1066MHz LPDDR3 RAM. SudoProc also includes an embedded security engine, a Gigabit Ethernet controller, and support for HDMI 2.0 4K with 10-bit H.265 video decoding.

SudoProc module by Sudo Systems
SudoProc module by Sudo Systems

This is only the second, independently available RK3288-based “computer-on-module” available out there. Boardcon’s MINI3288 is also available on its sandwich-style EM3288 SBC. The RK3288 is the backbone of Android mini-PCs and also powers several Linux/Android-based open source Single Board Computers(SBC). The SudoProc supports Android 5.0 to 7.0, as well as Debian, Ubuntu, and an in-house developed SudoOS Linux distribution.

The SudoProc module offers a lot of RAM along with a huge amount of onboard eMMC 4.5 32GB storage. It is expandable up to 512GB. There’s also support for 2x SDIO 3.0. It has HDMI 2.0 for video support and SPDIF and I2S/PCM take care of Audio.

The 218-pin SudoProc is further provided with interfaces including USB 2.0 host and OTG, as well as 5x UART, 5x I2C, 3x SPI, 4x PWM with the interrupt. SudoProc also has up to 100 GPIOs which are programmable as interrupt inputs. Other listed I/Os includes 3-channel, 10-bit SARADC, 8-bit TS stream shared with CIF, a “Host” interface shared with GMAC, and a GPS interface. On-demand optional I/O incorporates HSIC 2.0, PS/2, and Smart Card.

The 5V/3A module supports 1.8V to 3.3V logic level output and allows remote control of the PMIC. Sudo Systems did a good job with its thermal dissipation design. There’s an integrated heatsink to take care of it. With the maximum thermal dissipation of 10W, the module’s estimated workings temperature is 25°C to 85°C.

In February, the SudoProc will open for pre-orders in limited quantities and will be shipped by March. The price is about $300, including a development board of the module. For further information, contact Sudo Systems at info@wearesudo.com.

iWave releases first Xilinx Zynq 7000 based SOM Module

The Zynq 7000 family based on the All Programmable SoC architecture are processor-center platforms that offer software, hardware and I/O programmability in a single chip.

iWave Systems which has released several Altera based FPGA system on modules has just announced its SODIMM (Small Outline Dual In-Line Memory Module) form-factor Xilinx Zynq based module known as the iWave’s iW-RainboW-G28M. The iW-RainboW-G28M features the Xilinx Zynq 7000 series SOC with Dual Cortex A9 CPU @ 866MHz, 85K FPGA logic cells, and up to 125 FPGA IOs.

iWave iW-RainboW-G28M SOM

The iWave iW-RainboW-G28M is compatible with the Zynq Z-7007S, Z-7014S, Z-7010, and Z-7020 SoC. Equipped with an onboard 512 Mbytes of NAND Flash, 512Mbytes of DDR3 SDRAM, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0 ports, an optional Micro SD slot, and an optional WIFI/Bluetooth module with a form-factor of 67.6 mm x 37 mm plug-in SODIMM style. It supports -40 to 85oC temperatures and powered through the SOM edge connector with a 3.3 DC Volt.

SOM Block Diagram

The following are the SOM specifications:

  • SoC –
    • Xilinx Zyng 7000 SoC
    • Single/Dual Cortex A9 @ up to 866MHz
    • Up to 85K logic cells
  • SoC Compatibility –
    • Compatible with Z-7007S, Z-7014S, Z-7010, and Z-7020
  • Memory –
    • 512 MB DDR3 and expandable to 1GB
    • 512 MB NAND Flash
    • An Optional QSPI Flash
    • Optional Micro SD Slot/eMMC (Optional)
  • Zynq PS & PL Interfaces –
    • Gigabit Ethernet x1 Port
    • USB 2.0 OTG x 1 Port
    • SD (4bit) x 1 Port
    • Debug UART
    • JTAG Port
    • 60 LVDS/120 SE FPGA IOs
  • SOM Features –
    • PMIC with RTC
    • Gigabit Ethernet Transceiver
    • USB 2.0 Transceiver
    • Optional Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Module
  • OS Support –
    • PetaLinux 4.9.0
  • Power Supply –
    • 3V DC
  • Temperature Support –
    • -400C to +850C
  • Dimension –
    • 6mm x 37mm

The iW-RainboW-G28M has applications in the areas of Industrial Automation, Machine Vision, Control & Measurement, Scientific Instruments and Medical Instruments. For pricing and availability, please contact iWave directly iW-RainboW-G28M SODIMM SOM.

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