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Electronics Production | July 09, 2009

Today’s top technology trends

The invention of integrated circuits has fuelled a boom in electronics which has continued to this day. Breakthrough cycles have shortened to almost an annual occurrence.
If we take consumer goods for example, colour televisions, PCs, laptops, cell phones, games consoles and personal music players are all relatively recent introductions that have enhanced our lifestyles.

Probably the one breakthrough which has made the biggest single change on our lives is the internet. As well as bringing totally new ways to communicate such as VoIP, IM and email, the Internet has enhanced all the consumer innovations mentioned above with new functionalities that bring together text, images, video and sound.

Other vertical segments in the electronics industry have shown a similarly rapid pace of change. The technologies that brought us laptops such as flat screens, power efficient components, better batteries and advanced connectivity, are being used in industrial applications, toys, infotainment and now even in automotive applications. Internet connectivity enables these devices to be updated with the latest information in real time from anywhere in the world.

Increased connectivity is fuelling growth in many markets; this is especially true of the medical market, where it has enabled the use of mobile diagnostic systems. These systems include blood pressure monitors, blood sugar monitors, ultrasound and MRI. Many of these devices also allow self-testing, where the patient can either download results remotely, or contact a medical professional, if the results are outside defined boundaries. As a result, as well as improving the quality of life for patients, mobile diagnosis devices have reduced waiting times in hospitals and freed doctors time for more critical cases.

Connectivity solutions also allow devices firmware and software to be updated remotely, adding new functionality, complying with the latest versions of standards, and most importantly extending the lifetime of products. Longer product lifetimes mean that there is less need to build replacements, reducing waste and also preserving valuable resources.

Conserving the earth’s resources is another very important theme in electronics design. Apart from designing for increased product lifecycles, there are other ways to save resources; these include designing devices to be as energy efficient as possible, buying components locally and using the latest power saving components.

In my opinion, the increasing use of electronics to add functionality and control, green design and connectivity are currently the three major trends in electronics, and these will continue to grow in importance in the near future.

Author:
Andy King, President, Farnell-Europe
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