Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Phones are Burning/Exploding!!

Two weeks after releasing the Galaxy Note 7 SmartPhones, Samsung is literally and figuratively fighting fires!  They have now recalled the roughly 2.5 Million Galaxy Note 7 that have been distributed (about 1 Million phones sold).  This is clearly a serious safety and reliability issue that should have been identified before any shipments started.  Not only is there the cost associated with the recall, replacement, possible personal injury and property damage, Samsung stock has taken a hit that knocked $2 Billion off of its market value!  The market can be massively punishing and unforgiving for mistakes like this one.

To date, 35 reports of fire/explosion issues have been received by Samsung.  Samsung believes that the problems are confined to fewer than 0.1% of the phones.  Based on a population of 2 Million phones, this would indicate the problems apply to less than 2000 phones.  This is a huge number of failures and a 99.9% reliability (even if the reliability level is even this high) is an unacceptable level in the consumer products world.

We expect these products not only to function reliably but also to be safe.  Battery fire issues with hoverboards in late 2015 basically tanked the sales of that product.

Additional details including the press release can be found here.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/09/02/samsung-note-7-recall-millions-of-phones-to-be-replaced-after-ba/

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Liam – the Apple Robot that Disassembles an iPhone in 11 seconds!!

Besides designing, manufacturing, and selling iPhones, Apple is now taking them apart also!  Apple is making a major push to be more green and that means recycling as much as possible the components that go into their phones and other products.

One way that they are trying to reach that lofty recycling goal is by developing highly automated robots to facilitate the disassembly.  The first one on the scene is Liam.  Liam is truly an amazing beast!

Liam is a 29-armed robotic creation that can totally disassemble an iPhone 6 in 11 seconds!!  Now that is fast!  That gives about 350 phones disassembled each hour, or 1.2 Million phones per year (assuming no lunch breaks and no maintenance!!).  You need a few “Liams” to put a dent into the iPhone supply out there.

A great article on this very impressive robotic technology was recently published on Mashable .  Mashable has published some photos and videos (though not at real time!).

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Feasibility of Energy Harvesting for Low-Power Applications

Energy harvesting (energy scavenging) has always been attractive since sources are almost always available and the energy available is just wasted if not used.  In addition to the three sources discussed in the reference below (light, vibration, and heat), another attractive source is available from automotive vibrations (particularly for sensors) and the more significant and now more widely used source of regenerative braking.

Quoting from the excellent Design News article of April 22, 2015 by Warren Miller:

“Energy harvesting in particular seems to be moving at an accelerating pace. We now seem to be at a point where it is possible to run low-power systems primarily from energy harvesting sources. This is a big shift from even just a couple of years ago.

Three key trends seem to have accelerated this dramatic shift. The first is the wild growth in the low-power market. New applications like wearable devices, smart sensors, and disposable devices are driving the insatiable need for more processing power on a low-power budget.

This rapidly growing market drives the second trend: the availability of low-power MCUs and FPGAs. These devices now offer considerable, power-efficient processing that can be applied to the wide range of applications in the growing low-power market. The third trend is the growing availability of energy harvesting sources that produce enough power to run low-power MCUs and FPGAs for enough time to do useful work.

Shown in the Figure below, is a summary of the power harvesting capabilities of three common harvesting technologies. We are all familiar with solar power as an energy harvesting technology, and it has probably been the main energy harvesting technology to power electronic devices up to this point.

But new technologies that provide alternative — and often more convenient power sources – have been developed. Piezoelectric effects, for example, can be used to harvest energy from vibration, motion, and pressure. This can be convenient for powering a variety of devices in areas such as wearable electronics for athletics and sensors on trucks or trains and for material flow control.

A piezoelectric energy source, as with many harvested energy sources, can be derived in bursts, which often need to be stored and accumulated for later use. In very simple systems, a simple capacitor storage system may be sufficient to give a very low-power MCU the juice needed to power up and perform simple calculations several times a second.

Smart use of the MCUs’ low-power states is usually critical in low-power applications, and newer MCUs can sleep indefinitely while using only microamperes of current, which makes it possible to use them in these types of very low-power applications.”

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“Perhaps surprising is the large amount of harvested power available from thermal energy. On par with solar harvested power, thermal energy can perhaps be best used in industrial applications where sensors monitor extremes of pressure and temperature.

The large temperature gradients available in industrial process control applications can easily power low-power FPGAs to implement very complex sensing algorithms using digital signal processing filtering or transform functions. Small rechargeable batteries can be used to store power when the temperature gradient isn’t available, but because sensing is normally only required while temperature extremes exist, batteries can be small without impacting sensor availability.

Perhaps even more interesting is the possibility of harvesting small amounts of thermally produced energy when temperature differences are not as extreme. A wearable device, for example, might have available a 10- or 20-degree temperate difference. This might be sufficient to generate enough power over just a few hours to power an activity monitor, heart rate sensor, or position tracker.

A small wristband could provide enough area to generate the power required to run a monitor or sensor. Combining energy harvesting techniques, thermal and vibration for example, could be an even more efficient method for powering an activity monitor.”

 

 

 

CES 2014 (Consumer Electronics Show) Highlights Some Impressive Inventions

The CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, NV is famous for being “the” place to debut exciting new technology.  The 2014 CES appears to live up to the history of the show.

This article in DesignNews gives some highlights and further details:

Gadget Freaks Rejoice: CES Highlights Impressive Inventions
Take a look at some new gadgets from last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas — a self-balancing electric skateboard, a sensor family that will keeps you on track, and a protective iPhone battery case with 32GB built-in storage.

As a new owner of an iPhone 5s, Mophie’s Space Pack looks very interesting (more battery life and more storage are always important!!). The big question is how much added thickness and added weight.  The form factor in the photo below looks impressive and the Space Pack adds up to 32GB of storage and is claimed to add 100% to the standard battery capacity of the iPhone.  You do need a protective case anyway, right??

Space Pack

The space pack adds extra storage for your iPhone 5/5s.   (Source: Mophie)

The space pack adds extra storage for your iPhone 5/5s. (Source: Mophie)

 Mophie’s space pack not only serves as extra battery life, but it also increases the storage to your iPhone 5/5s. This protective battery case with built-in storage increases your iPhone battery by 100 percent and gives you up to 32GB of extra memory.

There is also a Space app that allows you to organize, share, and access the content on the space pack’s storage. Once items are stored, you can access all the files without any network data usage. Another perk is that a USB cable is included so you can charge and sync your iPhone and space pack at the same time.

You can pre-order the space pack for $149.95 for the 16GB or $179.95 for the 32GB versions, beginning in March 2014.