When you go to an exhibition, conference or seminar how many people do you think you know at the event? Chances are that it is more people than you think.
In these days of Internet-based social networking via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and countless others it seems that everybody wants to be your friend. Before it became trendy to network most design engineers have been naturally doing just that for generations. That's how most inventions got invented in the first place.
The 'six degrees of separation' concept suggests that if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is on average six 'steps' away from each person on Earth. In some quarters the idea is often called the 'Human Web'.
Given that most innovations in power management electronics are derived from the pooling of the knowledge or expertise of groups of scientists or engineers then it is likely that the 'six degrees of separation' rule applies to a lot of technology developments.
Scratch the surface of one organization's new product and you will inevitably find a link between other people outside the company whether it is a technology link, financial/management link or an educational link.
This article is going to be the first of an occasional series that lifts the lid on a technology area to check out if the 'six degrees' rule holds true. Invariably untangling the 'Human Web' will show how intimately interlinked many of the world's leading multinationals are with start-up companies spread across the planet. Not only does the exercise give us a chance to see who has been networking with whom but it also intriguingly points to the technological direction some of the companies may be heading towards in the future.
Putting energy harvesting and power conversion to the six degrees of separation test
Energy harvesting of ultra-low-power conversion devices is going to be a recurrent theme of 2009 and many of the industry's leading multinationals such National Semiconductor, International Rectifier, Linear Technology, Analog Devices and Texas Instruments will be pushing the energy harvesting boundaries forward this year.
Six degrees of separation - link 1
With energy harvesting firmly in its sights Texas Instruments [Six degree - Link 1] started seeding the market in 2008 with kits that combined the company's low-power MSP430 microcontroller with conversion technologies from companies from a number of start ups. From this development a classic six degrees of separation chain unwinds.
The MSP430 claims the industry's lowest power consumption for devices that can provide up to 25-MHz peak performance, increased flash and RAM memory and integrated peripherals such as radio frequency, USB, encryption and LCD interfaces. The device offers designers the added functionality required to advance a range of applications in personal medical, home automation, human interface control, automated meter reading (AMR), portable instrumentation, sensors, consumer electronics and security.