Consumer

Rich Pell
Editor
A resources site and community for engineers involved in the design and development of consumer home or mobile electronics hardware and software.  Find design tips, new product information and discussion on consumer audio, video, multimedia, gaming, communications, computing, and home appliances.

The downsides of tech complexity

Putting yourself in the shoes of your customer is one of the most challenging aspects of engineering. But market success necessitates that you do so. Read More...

Apple software updates slow down legacy hardware

Don't push hardware too far with your upgraded software. Apple perhaps should have made the obsolescence decision more than it has in the past. As, perhaps, should you. Read More...

LAN security for MoCA and powerline

LAN equipment manufacturers have been much less upfront in educating consumers of the need to set unique and secure encryption passwords for MoCA and powerline than they have been with Wi-Fi. Read More...

Wireless fast-charge capabilities are on the rise

With the introduction of the 15W extension to the Qi specification, a new world of wireless charging products and capabilities has opened up. Read More...

The Batteriser: scam or savior?

The miniaturization is commendable, but is there a strong commercialization market opportunity for this product, aimed at extending the life of disposable batteries? Read More...

Honey, I retrofitted the car's interior lights with LEDs

Cheap LEDs from China Inc. do a decent job updating interior car lighting. Read More...

Apple enhancements help legacy hardware

Implement creative techniques that allow software to make the most of the hardware that exists in your system designs. Read More...

Wi-Fi in the sky

It's better to under-promise and over-deliver than the converse, whether we're talking about broadband or any other product or service. Read More...

Toshiba launches 256-Gbit 48-layer 3-D NAND flash

Ready for sampling in September, Toshiba’s 48-layer BiCS flash memory stores 256 Gbits using a 3-D vertically stacked cell structure. Read More...

Time stands still for no tech

Cleaning out the garage leads to another set of technology observations. Read More...

Measure career advancement by blowing your mind

If you can possibly finagle this opportunity, do it right now! Read More...

What's next for wearables?

Wearables have the power to transform the world around us - to interact on our behalf with other 'smart' devices that are increasingly common. Read More...

Site enables detailed component comparisons

A new site is dedicated to conducting detailed comparisons of electronic components to assist engineers with the selection process. They’ve kicked things off by tackling 60 MEMS & other miniature microphones. Read More...

GPU's latest incarnation traces rays in real-time

The Imagination Technologies PowerVR Wizard brings real-time ray tracer design and scores the 2015 Design Team of the Year ACE Award. Read More...

Teardown: Router dissection reveals a Marvell foundation

When the newer of two Linksys E4200 dual-band 802.11n routers dies, a teardown reveals a chipset change. Read More...

Chrome OS could find success in schools

Chrome OS-based systems are still too restrictive for general-purpose use, but they're darn close to perfect in specific vertical markets. Read More...

Farewell, Windows Media Center

The end of Windows Media Center is now a definitive "when" versus "if," and that's too bad. With sufficient investment, the software really could have been a cable box killer. Read More...

Getting to know the Moto 360

A watch that requires a daily overnight tether to a charger is a non-starter (at least for the masses). Read More...

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Bad-bulb finder fixes Christmas lights

15 years later, here’s a new take on one of our most popular Design Ideas ever! Read More...

Hybrid vacuum tube/solid-state audio power amplifier

An audio power amp design that combines vacuum tube input circuitry with solid-state output and feedback components. Read More...

Low-duty-cycle LED flasher keeps power draw at 4 mW

In situations where a low-duty-cycle blinking indicator provides an adequate indication of the power being turned on, this simple circuit should prove useful. Read More...

Signal-powered switch connects devices

Use a switch to selectively connect a terminal, personal computer, or any other originating device to one of four receivers. Read More...

Send MIDI signals over long distances

A single Category 5 cable links MIDI devices up to 100m away. Read More...

Passive-detector receiver keeps you informed, entertained during flights

Receive HF AM signals without battery power. Read More...

Circuit combines power supply and audio amplifier

This circuit can help if you must transfer DC power and audio over one pair of copper wires. Read More...

Video emitter uses battery power

This hows how to make a cable-free, direct-video system. You can use the small and simple system each time you need to capture image and sound on the run. Read More...

Circuit eliminates PC echoes

Long-distance-telephone services available via the Internet often require the PC user to wear headphones of a headset to prevent echo caused by the microphone's picking up the loudspeaker outputs. The circuit in Figure 1 eliminates the echo while using the existing PC microphone and speakers for a comfortable conversation. Read More...

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Toshiba launches 256-Gbit 48-layer 3-D NAND flash

Ready for sampling in September, Toshiba’s 48-layer BiCS flash memory stores 256 Gbits using a 3-D vertically stacked cell structure. Read More...

MicroZed prototyping platform teams with Arduino

Prototypes developed with the Avnet MicroZed carrier card kit combine the MicroZed system-on-module with the large ecosystem of Arduino shields. Read More...

Innovative 8-bit PIC MCU family is tailored for demanding Smart Lighting applications

Microchip has introduced two new families of genuinely innovative 8-bit PIC MCUs, including one specifically designed for Smart Lighting and motor control applications. These minimalist machines are designed to meet the tight cost constraints of IoT applications with elegant architectures which can squeeze out the greatest possible functionality from the smallest possible number of transistors, miliwatts and pins. Read More...

Security controller simplifies design and product protection

The Optiga Trust E provides a turnkey approach to product security by simplifying authentication. Read More...

NXP secures USB Type-C connections

NXP Semiconductors has added authentication and power delivery capabilities to its USB Type-C connectors. Read More...

Smart, low-cost daylight harvesting enabled by multi-sensor controller

Deep Roof Lighting as come up with an inexpensive and highly-effective daylight harvesting system that's easy to install in a variety of configurations. Priced at under $200, it can control mixed groups of 30 or more LED, incandescent, and fluorescent fixtures – even if they require different control interfaces. Read More...

Surface-mount LED chip array offers lower solution costs, higher light quality

Aimed at reducing assembly and optic design costs of retrofit bulbs and lighting equipment, Osram Opto Semiconductors' Duris S 10 Chip Array SMD (CAS) boasts high efficiency, high light output and uniform color appearance. The LED’s compact 7.7mm light-emitting surface enables compact optics with beam angles as narrow as 120° and helps simplify the integration of lenses, reflectors and other standard accessories. Read More...

RFID tag boasts high sensitivity, long read range

Optimized for item-level tagging, the Monza R6 UHF RFID tag chip from Impinj provides a read sensitivity of up to -22.1 dBm. Read More...

$49 Arduino-compatible board features enhanced Cortex M7 MCU

STMicro's Arduino-compatible STM32F7 Discovery Kit is an exciting development for DIY-ers interested in IoT applications. Read More...

Wood-fired LED lantern converts waste heat into light & power

Don't let the Stove Lite LED lantern's appearance deceive you. Beneath those old-timey looks, lies a modern thermo-electric generator (TEG), which uses the Seebeck effect to convert the heat of your wood stove into enough energy to run its LED lamp. This rugged wood-powered wonder also doubles as a battery charger for your phone or other mobile device. Read More...

DIY thermo-electric modules make backwoods power from your wood stove

If you've ever wanted to mess with thermo-electric generators (TEGs), there's a great web site which offers all the parts to make your own wood-fired electron pump. TEGs are basically over-sized thermocouples which convert the heat of your stove or other heat source into electricity – and a great way to generate a bit of power when its dark out or lugging around a bunch of solar panels isn't practical. Read More...

Address E-band cost and reliability issues in MMIC packaging

High component cost and low production yield limit E-band usage in applications like 77-GHz collision-avoidance systems to luxury cars; a new approach can change that. Read More...

NFC controller packs firmware, NCI-based interface

Offering full NFC Forum V1.3 compliance, the PN7120 near-field communication controller from NXP Semiconductors includes embedded firmware providing all NFC protocols, a standardized NFC controller interface (NCI), and a small form-factor antenna for contactless communication at 13.56 MHz. Read More...

Portable OLED lantern is versatile, affordable, and downright sexy

My dreams of basking in the silky radiance of my own OLED light may indeed come true if ALKILU Enterprises’ successfully completes its Kickstarter campaign for its TripLitOLED lantern. With a $60 price tag and a 30-hour maximum run time, the TripLit appears to be a versatile unit, equally suitable as a camping light, a utility light, a book light, or for emergency applications. Read More...

Module permits TI DLP Full-HD 1080p chipset evaluation

Complemented by a robust ecosystem, Texas Instruments’ DLP LightCrafter Display 4710 evaluation module allows designers to quickly assess the DLP Pico 0.47-in. TRP Full-HD 1080p display chipset for use in a diverse range of applications, including digital signage, mobile projectors, screenless TVs, control panels, and wearables like head-mounted displays. Read More...

High-performance LEDs aim at halogen spotlight applications with 90 CRI, halide-like R9 values, 140Lm/W

One of the reasons I attended Lightfair last month was to get a firsthand look at Cree's new TrueWhite® LEDs which the company claims are able to rival the light quality of a traditional ceramic metal halide (CMH) bulb. The short answer was that I was tickled at the "near-halogen experience" TrueWhite appears to deliver. There's also a slightly longer answer which I'll get to after a quick review of what Cree says about its devices. Read More...

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Teardown: Router dissection reveals a Marvell foundation

When the newer of two Linksys E4200 dual-band 802.11n routers dies, a teardown reveals a chipset change. Read More...

Teardown: Wireless access point has two-PCB design

Tearing down a wireless access point reveals that segmenting the design into two PCBs enabled an abundance of functional flexibility. Read More...

Teardown: Inside a 3G MicroCell

A 3G MicroCell teardown reveals what makes the device work, and how it can detect tampering. Read More...

Teardown: Moto 360’s shape forces design compromises

Ongoing software enhancements are fairly effective in keeping the Moto 360's hardware current, but Motorola's circular form factor decision, while cosmetically preferable to many, also compelled some compromises in the design of the smart watch. Read More...

Teardown: Chromecast streams must have gotten crossed

An expired Chromecast provides the chance to get a look inside Google's streaming device. Read More...

Teardown: Xbox wireless controller

See how a third-party wireless Xbox controller takes control. Read More...

Teardown: Wireless weather sensor transmitters

Out-of-box failure and a residence transition provided the analysis subjects for the last article in this series of weather station teardowns. Read More...

Teardown: Under-the-weather weather station's temperature sensor

Did a deep discharge of this solar-powered temperature sensor's embedded rechargeable batteries render them unable to store electrons any longer? Read More...

Teardown: Dissecting an under-the-weather weather station

Keeping a solar-powered temperature sensor in the dark puts it to sleep for good. What better way to find out why than to take it apart? Read More...

Teardown: Looking under the cover of a LCD computer monitor

When a dusty LCD monitor stops working it becomes a perfectly acceptable teardown-surgery patient. Read More...

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Sensors combinations make for more intelligent mobile devices

Smartphones can be remarkably dumb. Learn how sensor combinations can bring about more intelligent mobile devices. Read More...

Smart connectivity for the wearable revolution

This overview explores how connectivity solutions, including wireless power, antenna, contactless data, and other connectivity, will enable the customer to make wearables happen. Read More...

Constant-voltage topology and intelligent dimming drives LEDs efficiently

LEDs as light sources in luminaires seem an ideal match due to their high efficiency, small size, and greatly improved color quality, but incompatibilities between long-established TRIAC dimmers and the LED drivers has been a problem. New ICs with innovative topologies overcome these issues. Read More...

Designing a feedback ANC headset using AS3435

This article describes the development steps necessary to design a feedback ANC headset based on the AS3435 chipset. Read More...

The world is ours to make: The impact of the maker movement

The maker movement is bringing engineering into the mainstream. Innovations happen in home garages and collaborative workspaces with their peers, and are openly shared to inspire other makers. Is this the beginning of the next industrial revolution? Read More...

Voice as an interface in the smart home: Can you hear me now?

New voice processing technologies can enable excellent far-field speech recognition with only two microphones. Read More...

Secure commissioning for ZigBee home automation using NFC

As connected devices start to become ubiquitous within the home and industry, and wireless networking is used to link them with the Internet, the security and integrity of the networks is becoming of the highest importance. Read More...

IoT not ready for ‘iPhone moment’

CES has a lot of connected hardware but where is the 'oh, that's really easy' surprise? Read More...

CES sampler: selfie drones, mobile health, and more

There's no place like the International CES to discover a wonderland of devices, services, goodies, and toys fit for every tech lover. Read More...

IoT: Collaborate or else, says Samsung CEO

Samsung Electronics CEO Boo-Keun Yoon made a passionate pitch to “unlock the infinite possibilities of the Internet of Things,” in his CES 2015 keynote. Read More...

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Create a stack monitor in 7 easy steps

Stack overflows are hard bugs to catch. A monitor will help. Read More...

The downsides of tech complexity

Putting yourself in the shoes of your customer is one of the most challenging aspects of engineering. But market success necessitates that you do so. Read More...

Enhance IoT security: use snipers

One proposal for enhancing IoT security is to have devices operate in stealth mode. Read More...

Apple software updates slow down legacy hardware

Don't push hardware too far with your upgraded software. Apple perhaps should have made the obsolescence decision more than it has in the past. As, perhaps, should you. Read More...

LAN security for MoCA and powerline

LAN equipment manufacturers have been much less upfront in educating consumers of the need to set unique and secure encryption passwords for MoCA and powerline than they have been with Wi-Fi. Read More...

Wireless fast-charge capabilities are on the rise

With the introduction of the 15W extension to the Qi specification, a new world of wireless charging products and capabilities has opened up. Read More...

Are you using the cloud as your time capsule?

We're told the cloud is the solution to all of our problems, except it's not. You have to understand what it will and will not do, both short and long term. Read More...

The Batteriser: scam or savior?

The miniaturization is commendable, but is there a strong commercialization market opportunity for this product, aimed at extending the life of disposable batteries? Read More...

Honey, I retrofitted the car's interior lights with LEDs

Cheap LEDs from China Inc. do a decent job updating interior car lighting. Read More...

Consumer electronic sensor market to climb to $34.57 billion in next 7 years

Grand View Research estimates that the global market will reach $34.57 billion by 2022, with high-performance imaging, and applications like restore recognition, 3D mapping, and eye tracking driving the market. Read More...

Apple enhancements help legacy hardware

Implement creative techniques that allow software to make the most of the hardware that exists in your system designs. Read More...

Wi-Fi in the sky

It's better to under-promise and over-deliver than the converse, whether we're talking about broadband or any other product or service. Read More...

Include a remote update boot loader: 5 reasons why

Your embedded system can benefit from remote update capability. Here's how. Read More...

Time stands still for no tech

Cleaning out the garage leads to another set of technology observations. Read More...

Measure career advancement by blowing your mind

If you can possibly finagle this opportunity, do it right now! Read More...

Good product, lousy crystal

The combination of established functions rather than a technology breakthrough can yield a useful product, but a small and easily avoidable deficiency can weaken its overall attractiveness. Read More...

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