Today we live in a hyper-connected world, surrounded by smart products. If industry forecasts are correct, by 2020 — just 2 short years from now — there will be over 28 billion internet-connected devices. Beyond smart phones and autonomous vehicles, smart cities, smart factories, and smart homes are also quickly emerging as promising opportunities that could help improve how we live, work and play.
While these new capabilities will be a delight to us as consumers, they are a nightmare for engineers and product designers. With hundreds of sensors, microprocessors, and wired and wireless communication components, engineers face immense challenges in ensuring reliability and performance. In the complex web of electronic circuitry, something, somewhere that is left unaddressed could lead to failure. One of the big challenges confronting product designers is electromagnetic interference, or EMI.
Full-wave model of communications channel
The Internet of Things (IoT) is about connected devices, and those devices are not just smartphones, tablets and phablets. It is anything that can collect data (sensors), connect to the internet and transmit the data wirelessly (antennas), and make smart decisions on acquired data (embedded software / processors). The biggest “mobility device” happens to be one that is near and dear to Americans — the car. Over the last few years the amount of electronics and connectivity within a car has been rapidly growing making it a primary differentiator for an automobile. Continue reading
With the trend to more high-performance and compact systems, EMI compliance has become a critical metric for system success in the automotive, computing, and aerospace industries. Electromagnetic interference issues discovered late in the design cycle can result in the entire system failing to meet regulatory EMI/EMC requirements. Addressing regulatory compliance and product debug can cost not only engineering time to investigate and mitigate issues, but can also threaten product release dates. PCB designers, therefore, need a strategy to address potential issues early in their design, to ensure the system meets compliance. Continue reading
If you’ve been watching the news this week, you probably saw some spectacular photos that showed the effects of solar flares in the atmosphere. Apparently, these solar flares are expected to increase in the months ahead as the sun ramps up to its solar maximum, expected to peak in late 2013.
According to Wikipedia: Solar flares strongly influence the local space weather in the vicinity of Earth. The flares can produce streams of highly energetic particles in the solar wind, known as a solar proton event, or “coronal mass ejection” (CME). These particles can impact Earth’s magnetosphere (see main article at geomagnetic storm); they could present radiation hazards to spacecraft, astronauts and cosmonauts.
The recent coronal mass ejection reminded me of similar events in 1989 that blacked out 6 million people in Quebec and in 1972 that disrupted telephone connectivity in Illinois. Could scientists have prevented or mitigated the inconvenience, the hazards, the consequences? Imagine the potential effect a solar flare would have now, given the proliferation of cell phones. Furthermore, the dangers of hostile, incoming electromagnetic radiation are only too familiar to military engineers designing systems to thwart the ever increasing threat of electronic warfare.
The phenomena all link back to virtual prototyping. Engineers and scientists can mitigate against high-frequency electromagnetic interference (EMI) — whether naturally occurring or otherwise — through the use of physics-based simulation tools. So while solar flares can be beautiful to look at, the havoc they can create with communication systems, radar systems, satellites, smart phones and tablet devices is a potential threat to all of us.
Did you experience or hear of any interruptions in communications? Did you happen to catch a great photo? Let us know.