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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk


Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

Shaping Smarter Cities:
Driving Our Way into the Future
Paul Golata


I arrive at the office. No, not my work office. That would be asking a lot for an engineer to arrive at such an outrageously insufferable hour of the day.

No, I am at the eye doctor’s office. Time to take my annual eye exam. I already know before I slip into the chair that I’m going to need a new prescription. I’m over 50 years old. Ever since I hit 40 years of age, my eyes have been following a seriously strong exponential decay function. Yes, if you can’t tell, I’m an engineer who wears glasses.

My eyesight seems to precipitously drop each year, becoming more and more apparent to myself that any resemblance to normal functioning that I had as a kid is long since gone. As I write this now, my computer screen is very fuzzy without my bifocal glasses on my face.

I’m sure that others of my five human sensory methods of perception are on the decline, but this is one that I’m very aware of is waning. Last week I was at the batting cages. I used to be able in high school to see the spin of the seams of the baseball and tell what was coming. Now, I simply hope to see the ball, no longer a baseball, but a softball twice its volume. I know, my eyesight isn’t what it used to be.

While glasses do help amend my sense of vision, they’re in fact an intelligent technology solution that corrects my visual deficiencies, helping me to function better in the world. Technology is playing a key role in other places in the physical world.

One way technology is making this so is by enabling the Internet of Things (IoT), empowering connected vehicles that will be able to be integrated and connected into the infrastructure of smarter cities. Electronic technology helps bridge the gap between our real physical world, filled with a wide gamut of analog signals, and the digital world that has become the backbone of how our society handles, manipulates, and interprets data.

In the future, smart city solutions will require a wide range of secure and intelligent sensing and communication products to collect data from continually moving people and technologically-advanced, highly-enabled transportation vehicles. This will allow for the ongoing and continual connection of both personal and infrastructure related physical devices to transfer data. They will collect and send data regarding themselves and their surrounding environments over a smart network. This will allow real-time monitoring to be applied to a whole new set of categories.

Visionary cities will take advantage of this information to enable them to provide greater levels of service to their constituents and/or reduce costs associated with the lack of real-time information to enable better solutions. These highly integrated sensing and connectivity solutions will enable cities to monitor and ascertain the status of their critical assets at the edge as they are in transit. Applications from monitoring structural health and conditions to tracking location and movement will be enabled by connected vehicles and smart cities using low-powered, accurate, and reliable sensor solutions. The key to this is knowledge of the signal chain and the creation of technology solutions that implement an interconnected reality simultaneously promising benefits to customers and municipalities alike.

A specific example of a technology product that is providing better sensing solutions is from Analog Devices (ADI). ADI is the leading global high-performance analog technology company dedicated to solving the toughest engineering challenges. They enable customers to interpret the world around us by intelligently bridging the physical and digital with unmatched technologies that sense, measure, power, connect, and interpret.

ADI has recently introduced the ADXL35x Accelerometers series (Figure 1).

Analog Devices ADXL35x Accelerometers

Figure 1: ADXL35x Accelerometers from Analog Devices.

The accelerometers are low noise, low drift, low power, three-axis MEMS accelerometers. The low noise performance over high frequencies—provided by the new ADXL35x series MEMS accelerometers—delivers high-resolution vibration measurements that sense various condition monitoring applications. This performance comes with very low-power consumption, making the ADXL35x series ideal for wireless sensor networks. The ADXL35x series MEMS accelerometers are the latest examples of high-performance sensor technology from Analog Devices that provides high-quality data for Internet of Things (IoT) applications and enables intelligent sensing from the edge of the network. 

If the ADXL35x series of MEMS accelerometers is used for sensing, they have to be able to send their data to another location so that it can be measured, interpreted, and further controlled. ADI has developed the ADF7030-1 Low-Power RF Transceivers to handle this role (Figure 2).

Analog Devices ADF7030-1 Low Power RF Transceivers

Figure 2: ADF70301-1 Low-Power RF Transceivers.

This product is a low-power, high-performance, radio transceiver for battery powered applications. The new transceiver enables more reliable wireless radio connections with fewer retries and packet losses, plus longer battery lifetime. The ADF7030-1 features a highly sensitive receiver and superior immunity to signal interferences as well as low-power modes, including the industry's lowest current in sleep mode. Designed with ADI's advanced radio technology, the transceiver is ideal for users of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and wireless sensor networks.

Intelligent analog solutions for connected vehicles are taking to the streets in smart cities everywhere. They are helping to drive our way into the future. Get on board. Enjoy the ride, even if you can’t see exactly where it’s all headed. Eventually, with the help of technologies, the future will be clear.

Visit the Shaping Smarter Cities Homepage to learn more about Mouser's commitment to Empowering Innovation.

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Paul Golata joined Mouser Electronics in 2011. As a Senior Technology Specialist, Paul contributes to Mouser’s success through driving strategic leadership, tactical execution, and the overall product-line and marketing directions for advanced technology related products. He provides design engineers with the latest information and trends in electrical engineering by delivering unique and valuable technical content that facilitates and enhances Mouser Electronics as the preferred distributor of choice.

Before joining Mouser Electronics, Paul served in various manufacturing, marketing, and sales related roles for Hughes Aircraft Company, Melles Griot, Piper Jaffray, Balzers Optics, JDSU, and Arrow Electronics. He holds a BSEET from the DeVry Institute of Technology (Chicago, IL); an MBA from Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA); an MDiv w/BL from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Fort Worth, TX); and a PhD from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Fort Worth, TX).

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