As an engineer who does both firmware and hardware, I've looked at this phenomenon with bemusement.
Programming the blink rate of an LED has empowered the Arduino/Raspberry newcomer, and now giddy with their perceived success, they want to do the same thing in hardware (but misbelieving the next hurdle will be similarly easy).
Tweaking open-source software is one thing, but do we really need a proliferation of alternate, customized microcontrollers each with an instruction set with "remixed" opcode bits!?
Having said that... I've watched with delight as the cost of firmware and PCB development costs have come firmly into the reach of the average user, and wistfully wish that future might enable the same for multi-project wafers using older geometries. I almost think open source obsession hinders this progression; if everyone insists on giving everything away (and providing free 24/7 support to boot), there is no incentive for newcomers to innovate.
@pinaz: ...and wistfully wish that future might enable the same for multi-project wafers using older geometries...
It's not quite in the "affordable by anyone" category, but did you see my column about the guy who designed his own SoC from the ground up in his basement and had it built as a shuttle project with the ASIC company? Click Here to see that tale.
@Jack.L: Even with free labour, when has anyone been able to build anything of late for cheaper than they could buy it where electronics is concerned?
It's scary in a way.
I remember the days from my youth in England when there were a radio/TV repair shops all over the place -- also you could get a TV repair man to come to your house (the doctors woudl come to your house also).
I remember when you coudl buy a Heathkit and build something yourself -- up to and including a color television -- for much less than you could buy one.
Now I look at the stuff aroudn us and think "how can they possibly design, fabricate, box, and ship this and sell it in stores at such a low price?"
I had not seen that. Thanks! That took serious courage to outlay the capital needed.
There is tremendous untapped potential for optimized low-power signal processing architectures, but if it isn't for a server farm or a cell phone, I fear that an established chip company is probably NOT working on it.
@Max: I remember when you coudl buy a Heathkit and build something yourself -- up to and including a color television -- for much less than you could buy one.
I actually built one, back in the early 80's; took me 24 hours. It was my first color TV with a remote control.
I did it for 2 reasons: 1) you didn't have to be a EE to build it (a good thing as I have a surprisingly small amount of hardware background for an embedded software engineer) and 2) you could troubleshoot it later and parts were actually replaceable.
I don't remember why I got rid of it, probably reached a point where I couldn't get parts any more. I do remember having the case off of it in the late 90's (I don't remember if I was troubleshooting something or just cleaning out out the accumulated dust). That would have been at least 4 household moves after I built it so they were quite rugged.
What are the engineering and design challenges in creating successful IoT devices? These devices are usually small, resource-constrained electronics designed to sense, collect, send, and/or interpret data. Some of the devices need to be smart enough to act upon data in real time, 24/7. Are the design challenges the same as with embedded systems, but with a little developer- and IT-skills added in? What do engineers need to know? Rick Merritt talks with two experts about the tools and best options for designing IoT devices in 2016. Specifically the guests will discuss sensors, security, and lessons from IoT deployments.