Looking Forward to 2015

2015 is already well underway, but there is still a lot that I am looking forward to in the rest of the year. At work, we have some very exciting new projects coming down the pipeline. There are also lots of new toys that I want to try out.

For work, we are beginning development on some long overdue projects. I can't really talk about it yet, but once the first wave of products comes out in Q2, I will go into more detail on the new communications protocol that I was instrumental in designing. Once these products begin to hit the market, we should see some excited customers.

I attended CES earlier this year and was really impressed with some things I saw.

First up was Voltera. This is a prototype PCB printer that would be perfect for my lab. Currently, our rapid prototyping hits a brick wall when it gets to the PCB portion. Any boards that we design need to be sent to a board fabrication house and we won't get our hands on them for at least 3 days. We have 3D printers, a laser cutter, a CNC mill and a CNC lathe. We can also do mold making and vacuum formed molds. But we can't get past our PCB wall!

This PCB printer can do a pseudo two layer design that will work great for any of our lower density boards. While we are consistently decreasing size and increasing complexity, we still have some projects that have nice, spacious boards. Voltera will let us whip that board out in hours, instead of days, and keep our rapid prototyping running smooth.

Second was the Internet of Things. This broad category was most thoroughly represented by Zigbee. It is a class of devices that all communicate wireless through a well established protocol and can be littered throughout a building. They can do everything from sense doors opening to turning on lights to opening a garage. The protocol is well documented and freely available, which means I can make a Zigbee transmitter fairly easily.

This is a possible new product for customers who want greater control over time based events like lighting, temperature, or sound.

Finally, all of the fitness technology is exploding. My pocket pedometer looks like a relic of a bygone era next to the modern FitBit and its many clones. A lot of these have open communications protocols that would let me design hardware to interface with them. As part of a room calorimetry system, this device would add a slew of new data in a very cost effective package. The data resolution is below the standards of Sable Systems, but it's hard to complain for the price.