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Blogs about Research Phase

Blogs about Research Phase

  • Is Number Five really Alive? (Number One is still pretty Dumb)

    Bill Marshall

    Finally, after months of late nights working in the lab, this collection of servomotors, microcontrollers and bits of bent metal is ready to come alive. All it needs now is a brain to give it intelligence, to allow it to think for itself, to operate autonomously: to be a robot. But what is ‘intelligence’ and can it be programmed in computer code? I have a ‘Smart’ phone, but what does ‘Smart’ mean? One thing’s for sure, a lot of research is required just to work out where to start.


    • A Nano-amp Probe Capable of Validating Low Power MCU Consumption Claims.


      In the mid 1980s, it was unusual to find semiconductors operating at supply currents below milliamp levels. Rarely was efficiency a major design consideration either. Back then, several tools suited the task of measuring current draw. However, with the advances made in the last three decades, combined with a global drive to increasing system efficiencies powered by the drive to portable electronics, many more products are now capable of operating at miserly micro and nano-amp current levels – that's at levels as much as a million times lower than were typical 30 years ago.


      • PocketQube: CubeSat’s Little Brother

        Bill Marshall

        In April 2012 I posted a DesignSpark blog post on the launch into Earth orbit of tiny, cheap Nanosat satellites built to a standard pattern called a CubeSat. Thanks to the miniaturisation of electronics the format is one of a 10cm cube. Femtosats are even smaller: one design, called a PocketQube, is basically a 5cm cube and eight would fit inside a CubeSat. Surely a step too far?


        • Soft Humans, Hard robots

          Bill Marshall

          There’s no getting away from it: robots are taking over the world. People have been saying this for decades but somehow the intelligence of Robby the Robot in the film Forbidden Planet (1956) still eludes us. In an article for the RS magazine eTech post- Fukushima disaster 2011, I attempted to match what we thought the rescue robots could do against the reality. The result was distinctly depressing. Over two years later have things moved on?


          • Could Intel’s New Haswell CPUs Herald a Breakthrough for Embedded Computing?

            Mark BVM

            It has always been a compromise between raw computing performance, power consumption and thereby heat generation, when designing an embedded system. Intel claims its new 4th generation Haswell CPU range means this compromise is reduced, giving designers the best of both worlds. When BVM got wind of the new Haswell chips in development, we were eager to see what the implications and possibilities might be for commercial applications and embedded systems. Having now had a chance to assess the new Haswell processors, here are our thoughts.