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Focus on no wires, no batteries at Embedded Technology 2013

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IoT? wearable computing? embedded? sensors?

EE Times correspondent Junko Yoshida takes us around the show floor at this year's Embedded Technology Conference & Exhibition held at Yokohama, Japan.

The further consolidations of Japanese semiconductor companies in recent years could simply mean that there were fewer big name Japanese chip vendors on the show floor at Embedded Technology 2013 (ET2013) last week.

But, even with fewer brands on display, one of the most remarkable changes was the unprecedented proliferation of modules and development boards on display at Japanese semiconductor vendors' booths.

Japanese chip suppliers are now squarely focused on pushing ready-to-use modulescomplete with software, sensors, and connectivity chips. Many of the devices on such modules are not necessarily their own chips or solutions. Freed at last from the corporate not-invented-here syndrome, one Japanese engineer said, "We see our job in putting together solutions, not necessarily selling our own, individual chips."

You might ask why it has taken the Japanese so long to wake up to a solution common to businesses everywhere else in the world. Late to the party or not, the reasons prompting these changes now are two-fold. Hard times, economically speaking, are one motivation. The other is the unstoppable, industry-wide trend for making every device smarter.

Most vendors at ET2013 were talking up M2M, sensors, energy harvesting ICs, battery-less wireless connectivity, HTML browsers, and big dataall thrown together in a package. Fortunately, the industry sees key building blocks coming together with immediate potential for practical use. These include: Echonet Lite (standards for linking home appliances made by different vendors); connectivity standards including Bluetooth Low Energy, ZigBee, Sub-GHz and PLC; a variety of sensors; sensor fusions; and energy harvesting.

Everyone in the Japanese industry is riding a somewhat inflated vision for smarter homes, smarter buildings, smarter automation, smarter grids, smarter cars, smarter healthcare, and smarter everything.

Oh, by the way, all this gets connected to the Internet (the legendary Internet of Things), thus generating big data, which in turn gets analysed to make end-systems even smarter. Following is a slideshow of clever stuff spotted at ET2013 this week.


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