AR Pool is Cool: Laval Virtual Day 1

By Kate
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Virtual Ear Pulling @ Laval Virtual

Virtual Ear Pulling @ Laval Virtual

What I wouldn’t do to provide you live coverage from Laval Virtual!  After waking up at 4:30 a.m. to catch the only morning train to Laval, France (train strike today), and consequently a double espresso, hot chocolate, another espresso and two Cokes later, I’m now in the press room trying to sort through the brain explosion of what I’ve experienced so far at Laval Virtual 2010. 

My top pick is much influenced by my university and post-grad billiard playing days.  The French (or maybe it’s my phase in life) aren’t much into billiards, and you certainly can’t listen to Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken” while you shoot if you do find a table.  So I was particularly excited when I saw a REAL billiard table at this virtuality conference.  Electrical and Computing Engineer (and I assume avid pool fan) Samuel Jordan from Queens University is the master mind behind this augmented reality billiard concept. 

The set-up for “AR Pool” is simple: a billiard table, computer, and overhead camera and projector.  What makes the magic is behind the set-up.  There’s this nifty physics simulator that suggests the best shot given the location of your cue ball in relation with the other balls and pockets that makes it magic. 

I’ve mixed together a little Flip video of my chat with Samuel and my try at pool playing.  You’ll note from my unsteady hand the effects of too much caffeine.  ;-)  When the pocket lights up, that means you’re well positioned to sink the ball and should shoot.

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How do you like this little AR bijou? 

What would you like for tomorrow’s post?  Serious industrial stuff or more fun?  There’s a full pickin’! 



Go for a hard drive and…..crash!

By Jonathan
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Whilst flying back from a business trip in Germany, I was reading an article in my “fly-by-wire” Airbus from the Global NY Times by James Carroll. It was all about the great American romance for cars being over, mentioning eco issues, and Toyota’s probs, etc. I particularly loved the play on words with “hard drive” and “crash” saying they used to be physical things to do with cars,  but now it’s all about the on board computer gadgetry crashing.

I can understand.  Back when I was 18-years-old and was messing around with modified cars down the back lanes, a hard drive was always needed to test my latest tweeks.  I was lucky.  I never crashed any cars – and I still have my tuned SAAB 96 V4 now 20 years later.

Would today’s cars last 20 years?

Then I thought, it must be a generation thing – the NY Times journalist is older than me after all!!  He comes from a generation where low tuned big engines were the solution to reliability.  Fuel consumption and pollution weren’t issues.

Today, as we all know, it’s a completely different story. I for one couldn’t go to work every day in my beloved 1972 SAAB.  It’s just not safe enough, fuel efficient enough, quiet enough, and easy to drive in traffic jams – I have to turn the heating on in the summer to stop the engine from steaming!

But for a lot of people the romance of cars has changed, if they ever had one.

Believe it or not most people just want to get from A to B efficiently, safely and in comfort. Ask most people what they hate about cars and they’ll say: purchase prices, reliability issues and running costs.

As the Chinese proverb goes “May you live in interesting times”. Well, I can safely say that the Automotive Industry is certainly going through its biggest moment since Henry Ford.

Remember how confusing it was for us to grow into adulthood from that awkward teenager?  I think the automobile is going through just this.

The child car was a mechanical car, fashioned from a good 100 years of mechanical excellence…just think of those magnificent steam trains, bridges and the Eiffel tower!

The teenage car was a bold and innovative if not reckless car, but the mature adult car is not yet upon us.

We still have the young adult trying to find his way in the jungle of regulations, demanding customers, ultra urbanisation, altered usage patterns, … and now to make things more complex he/she’s got a baby, and the baby’s called “multi-discipline engineering” but it nickname is “mecatronics“!

So in my opinion the Automotive Industry is on the verge of a phoenix like rebirth, where we’ll see a change akin to the iPhone made to mobile communications. We do truly live in interesting time…

What’s your take?

Sustainably yours,

The 3 Faces of Semiconductor

By Rick
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In her blog entry,  “Synopsys Likely to Roll up the EDA Sector” , Sramana Mitra does a great job in summarizing the current state of the EDA industry. She does a particularly nice job of reviewing the moves that Synopsys has made in taking the leadership position in the industry and how its competition have been developing their own strategies on where their companies (and the industry) should evolve. I had some thoughts that I wanted to share that bring a bit of a different perspective.


It’s interesting to think about where the EDA space is headed and how the rules of natural selection have gotten us to where we are today.  Sramana Mitra does a nice job in summarizing the current state for the EDA leaders. Others can better talk about technology or about how the startup companies made money for a lot of people in the past.

But I think that EDA needs to see that the semiconductor industry today really has three personalities:three-faces

  1. A technology industry driven by innovation and creating the “next cool thing” that will drive the latest products in many different industries. IC products provide the intelligence within the latest innovations across multiple markets; automotive/transportation, A&D, medical devices, consumer products and, of course, high-tech computers, communications and entertainment products.
  2. A manufacturing industry. It’s one of the world’s largest manufacturing segments and puts the latest technologies in the hands of consumers at commodity pricing.
  3. An emerging growth industry. Although it’s been around for generations, the IC domain is very dynamic. Both technology and manufacturing changes allow the market to reinvent itself and bring innovation to different end-user markets. As opposed to industries where there is a finite number of applications for their products, semiconductor companies continually opens doors in new markets.

EDA has been focused primarily on the first two of the semiconductor market personalities—addressing the technology needs of the design teams and the ability to help manufacturing continue to produce products at a nearly impossible scale with cost structures that make those products accessible.

But what did we see when the tough times rolled around?

The manufacturing “factory” personality became dominant. The technology teams were reduced to focus on core products and mandates were delivered to make those products more flexible so that they could have longer lifespans. On the manufacturing side, troubles brought a focus on the supply chain and bottom line, resulting in the common factory response of cut, reduce, eliminate.

What is required is someone that thinks of the market more holistically.

Leaders in this market have to not only be aware of the bottom line, but also be focused on creating new opportunities to grow the top line.  At some point, you can’t cut anymore—but you can always grow if you have the right vision. Companies that “emerge with advantage” from the downturn are those that are working closely with customers in new markets to grow their position, not just cut costs. Synopsys is a perfect example of a company that has a vision to grow its position through working closely with customers, being more critical in the design chain and increasing its offers to be ready for whatever need customers will have. I’ve seen the same with IC companies. While many have spent the past couple of years looking to cut costs, some were working on how to best work with their customers, enable sales and marketing to streamline new opportunities and better bring products to market. Those are the companies that you’ll be hearing good things about in the coming year.

I think this evolution will continue beyond what we know as EDA today and into a more encompassing product design and experience offering. In time, you will see the blending of EDA’s target semiconductor market both down deeper into manufacturing and up into the end market application.

When you design the “brain” (chip), you will also have to design the “body” (application product).

If semiconductors are replacing the steel and wires within transportation systems, doesn’t it make sense that the design of the products also change? Much of that change will start with how to work more closely with the customer, how to capture ideas, how to share the huge amount of information available and how to eliminate the proverbial walls over which each functional discipline has to “throw” their contributions.

EDA companies are already starting down that path today with common database formats (OpenAccess), product portfolios that encompass orders of magnitudes of more diverse offers in multi-domain design, behavioral modeling, embedded software content, simulation, predictive analysis, test, manufacturing preparation and packaging—and with consortia that brings together both design chain and supply chain partners.

EDA is still evolving. They have fire and the wheel. Imagine all that will come next.



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