Drones for daily life are on the horizon

By Catherine
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

Written by Catherine Bolgar*

Drone

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones, are used to hunt for oil, to monitor hurricanes, to film movies and for search and rescue operations. As regulations become clearer on how and where UAVs can be used, and as technology continues to develop, we’ll see even more applications for UAVs in the future.

When UAVs were strictly for military use, the electronics onboard were big and clunky,” says Michael W. Heiges, principal research engineer at the Georgia Tech Research Institute in Atlanta. “The computers didn’t have a lot of capacity.”

Big UAVs have to be controlled by a team of people and can cost over $1 million. However, technological advances in consumer electronics have driven down costs and improved sensors that could also be used on UAVs, making them smaller, cheaper and more nimble. Micro UAVs have wingspans as small as one centimeter, though such tiny drones can fly only a short time and can use only limited sensors. In between lie a range of UAVs that can cost $500 to $2,000.

Now you can maneuver them around very easily, like a hockey puck on ice,” Dr. Heiges says. “It took away a lot of the skill involved to operate.”

Amazon.com Inc., the online retailer based in Seattle, said last December it was developing drones for package delivery. The company’s goal is for packages to arrive within 30 minutes of an order being placed online. However, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said such a use of UAVs wouldn’t be allowed, at least for now.

Delivery drone

Dr. Heiges and Georgia Tech are working with cable news channel CNN to study how to safely use UAVs for newsgathering.

In the U.S. and some other countries, small UAVs are governed by the same rules as remote-controlled model airplanes, which must fly no more than 400 feet (120 meters) above the ground. They also must be kept away from populated areas and full-size aircraft. There’s also a distinction between hobby use and commercial use. All business use of UAVs is under FAA regulation, and requires a certified aircraft and certified pilot.

Here lies the rub: For now, in the U.S., small UAVs need to stay within sight of their operator on the ground, and bigger UAVs need to be monitored by a chase plane. That limits the ability to send in UAVs where it’s too dangerous or difficult for people to go—for example, near a railroad derailment with a toxic spill or to fly over a damaged nuclear plant to track radiation leaks. In Europe, UAVs are being used for safety inspections of infrastructure, such as rail tracks, dams, dykes and power grids, according to a communication from the European Commission in April. National authorities in Europe also are using them for disaster relief, such as flying over flooded areas or supporting fire fighters.

Larger UAVs are being flown remotely—though over unpopulated areas—for example, in search and rescue operations in national parks, or behind the lines of wildfires, Dr. Heiges says.

Technology could address this challenge soon. “The main thing people would like to see is sense and avoid capability, either radar or video or some combination of the two,” he says. “That capability is needed to avoid other aircraft and for being able to understand how far away other aircraft are. Until we do that, UAVs have to remain in sight of an observer on the ground.”

The current sensing systems “all have shortcomings in one way or another,” he adds. For example, radar-based systems are good for detecting other metal aircraft but not seeing things such as parachutists or balloonists. Cameras on UAVs can transmit images of what’s near a UAV to a person farther away, but the cameras don’t work well in clouds or if they’re facing the sun.

To be reliable enough to pass regulatory muster, sense and avoid systems “will have to be better than a human,” Dr. Heiges says.

Until then, there are many applications for UAVs in unpopulated areas.

One of the first markets that’s really ripe for use of the technology is agriculture,” says N. Dennis Bowman, extension educator, commercial agriculture-crops at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “The ability to do surveillance of crops and livestock really fits the technology.”

Farmers in general are cultivating more acres, making it more difficult to get to every patch of land to see whether there’s a need for more irrigation, or whether pests or disease are affecting crops.

We’re looking for breakthroughs in software that can take series of photos and stitch them together to get a big picture, but without having to fly at such a high altitude that the UAV would interfere with airplanes,” he says. “At lower altitudes, you could get better resolution and more detail, but you also want to see a whole field at one time.”

In Japan, farmers use UAVs for crop dusting, which isn’t allowed in the U.S.—though the size of U.S. fields is too big for the carrying capacity of drones today, Mr. Bowman says.

Ranchers, whose sections are 600 acres or more, could use UAVs to locate cattle, to save crews’ time when the animals need to be rounded up for procedures such as vaccinations.

*For more from Catherine, contributors from the Economist Intelligence Unit along with industry experts, join The Future Realities discussion.

Foamy Headphones and Smelly Clothes: Designing for the Second Moment of Truth

By Estelle
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

This post originally appeared at Core 77

High tech products

News about a bad product experience travels quickly. Maybe it’s because of the fact, according to a white paper “Designing for the User Experience,” that five times as many people will tell a friend about a bad experience than a good one, or that social media makes it easier than ever to share that negative message, but news of design shortcomings and failures spread fast.

If I’m buying a pair of headphones and the sound is good, but they’re not comfortable, they’re too small for my head, they are too foamy… I’m not going to have a good Second Moment of Truth with that,” explains Stuart Karten, Principal and Founder of Karten Design.

The same goes for a bottle of laundry detergent you may have purchased for its swanky packaging: if your clothes don’t come out smelling clean, you probably won’t buy it again. That Second Moment of Truth (SMOT) often relies on the user experience, what happens when a consumer actually uses the product. As more and more of those products move towards the digital space, that experience comes down to a digital interface, the intuitiveness of those interactions and ease of use. Karten elaborates:

In general, there are multiple trends that are happening in the consumer electronics arena. One is that things are becoming rectangular boxes with user interfaces. The “stickiness” and the appeal and the connection are moving into the digital space. That puts a lot of challenge on—not only the overall form factor of the product on that first level—but the second level of that digital engagement”.

There are other challenges as well when it comes to designing high-tech consumer electronics. “With High-Tech, the technology is usually brand new, so this thing that you are designing is actually morphing as you move down the development cycle because, as time is changing, the technology is advancing,” explains Rob Brady, CEO and Design Director at ROBRADY, which focuses on consumer, industrial, marine and medical products.

Both Karten and Brady agree that designing for that second level requires a user-centric approach, spending time with the target audience to anticipate and better meet their needs. For electronics and other high-tech goods, that means understanding the incentives behind why a consumer would want this product and the motivation behind their purchases. “People make a conscious decision that they want a new pair of headphones, a new laptop,” says Karten. “They want it to define who they are and the person they want to be.”

Watches rendering

Designing with a broadly aspirational approach often means putting a series of virtual prototypes in front of focus groups, simulating interaction and providing a realistic rendering that can then be iterated upon before even printing out a physical prototype. Once the limits of virtual prototyping have been reached, focus groups can be brought in and products are placed in their hands. As these products move into the digital space, however, so do those focus groups and companies like Dassault Systèmes are creating solutions that virtually emulate the product development process from coming up with a concept to testing it in a online retail or working setting.

Ideation & Concept Design

You build a model and you test it. You do an alpha and you test it. You do a beta and you test it. You prototype early and often,” says Brady. “At the end of the day, it’s all about humans interacting with products and designers making these different products approachable and accessible.”

Do not miss the new edition of MADEin3D contest “Cup of IoT”, featuring the theme of Internet of Things! Register to the MadeIn3D community to enter the contest now! Also, you will want to check out our white paper titled “Designing the User Experience”.

Enter the Cup of IoT contest!

Factors Affecting the Future of the Semiconductor IP Management Business

By Eric
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

The era of semiconductor IP is here and it’s a good sized business.  (>£700M for ARM, >$400M for Synopsys, > $100M for Cadence, all annually)  And without a doubt, the demand for semiconductor IP will continue to grow. Regardless of the size of the target market, all companies creating semiconductors are now using or reusing IP, whether developed internally or externally. But a variety of business factors will shape the future of the IP business.

Sourced from: http://bit.ly/YxXx3F

The success of leading device manufacturers in dreaming up new, more advanced features and capabilities which consumers seem to want and buy drives semiconductors to be ever more complex and short lived. This affects the nature of IP. For example, short life cycles mean less business value which then affects investment in quality, both by the IP provider and licensee. Quality is gained through the V&V process as well as development support. It’s highly likely that IP providers and consumers that have differentiated V&V know-how and support systems will have an edge in the market. Similarly, the ability to capture and manage specs and know-how for IP block integration will be a differentiator.

The larger device designers who are market leaders will have economies of scale working in their favor, allowing differentiated advancements in power consumption and functionality through finer-grain integration of IP blocks. They can absorb the additional V&V and design costs from stitching hundreds of IP blocks into a system. And in fact it’s highly likely that these companies will continue to be the primary consumers of IP, because they can gain the most value from it. But, as advances in differentiation slow in a particular product category (witness pocket calculators), this advantage may recede. Smaller vendors who from the start become adept at on-boarding, managing and reusing IP, especially larger sub-systems may gain advantage over time through constant refinement of development and IP licensing processes to maximize margins despite smaller served markets.

In summary, there are a number of factors, some of them opposing each other which will affect the business for creation and consumption of semiconductor IP. Businesses that adapt to these factors, and implement processes and systems to streamline their IP management will fair better against the external forces that work against them. In some ways, it’s a lot like being chased by a bear: you don’t have to run faster than the bear, only faster than the guy next to you.

More information about Dassault Systemes solutions for IP Management. 



Page 10 of 12« First...89101112