SAN FRANCISCO--Two popular trends rocking the world of consumer electronics are touch enabled surfaces and the Internet of Things. American semiconductor firm Atmel has made both a priority, and to prove it, the firm hit the ground running at CES 2013, showing off everything from flexible sensors embedded under curved Corning glassware to connected devices already found lying around the home.
Atmel's XSense flexible touch sensors even managed to win the firm a 2013 CES Innovation award, for allowing capacitive touch to be wrapped around the side of a device, potentially eliminating the need for mechanical buttons that can wear-down when exposed to moisture and dirt.
On the connectivity side of the house, Atmel showed off its wireless product offerings, acquired when the firm bought Ozmo, Inc. recently.
Buying Ozmo allowed Atmel to offer a single-chip, Wi-Fi personal area network (PAN) product, which OEMs can then embed in devices like remote controls, wireless "mouses" and keyboards.
Atmel said the chip was optimized for low latency, long battery life and Wi-Fi a/b/g compatibility.
It’s also able to directly communicate with the integrated Wi-Fi technology found in millions of products currently on shelves, so Atmel’s Internet of Things is already available to consumers in retail.
I hope that as much effort is devoted to age testing the systems as is being devoted to the visual design. Too many such devices get glitchy (either failing to respond when intended or responding at unwanted times). Even direct input touch screens in commercial venues and copying machines get to the point that you must press the virtual button a line below the intended button to activate them successfully. If customers could be confident of reliable operation, these capacitive response devices could become very popular.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.