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Hot technologies: Looking ahead to 2012

-December 13, 2011

2011 will be remembered for many reasons - from economic turmoil and
political uprisings to natural disasters and the death of Bin Laden. From a technologists' point of view, however, two things stand out: the closing of the Space Shuttle program and the passing of Steve Jobs. Both were catalysts for innovation and change that will ripple for years to come, proof positive that no matter what goes on across the geo-political landscape, engineers - the creators of technology - never rest.

Here, our editors pay homage to those creators with a look at some of the hot trends and technologies in 2011 - and a look ahead to 2012 - that engineers have helped create and advance (click on a link to read):

The science fiction future of medical implants is here - Steve Taranovich
Semiconductor solutions contained in hand-held consumer product innovations are now finding their way into medical implantables

Mobile apps: The next engineering tool - Martin Rowe
Mobile apps show great promise as the next wave of measurement instruments, reference tools, computational tools, simulators, and system controllers.

Energy conservation spurs LED lighting acceptance - Margery Conner
Japan struggles to restore full energy to homes and businesses, driving a faster acceptance of power-miserly LED lighting. The global community questions nuclear as a safe alternative to carbon-intensive fuels.

LED drivers are making that glow happen - Bill Schweber
The diversity and application-optimization of LED drivers are starting to resemble their analog cousins of op amps and A/D converters.

Ultra-low-power wireless makes inroads into many applications - Janine Love
Low-power and ultra-low-power wireless devices continue to improve our 'quality of experience' in life, by giving us peace of mind, convenience, and new forms of entertainment.

The hottest trends in programmable logic - Clive "Max" Maxfield
New chips are both bigger than anything we've seen before in capacity and performance and smaller than anything we've seen before in capacity and packaging.

Automotive electronics: What's hot in 2012 - Rick DeMeis
2012 looks to be a year of consolidation as technologies introduced previously - like voice recognition and electrified power trains - become more widespread across model lines.

Audio performance advances in portables - Rich Pell
Mobile audio quality is being addressed on several fronts, including portable devices' built-in hardware and software/processing capabilities, as well as media quality itself.

MCUs: High-end devices flourish - Colin Holland
It is the balance between the traditional technologies and the newer kid on the block - ARM - that is providing an area of interest.

PC boards: Materials and processing are now a hot technology - Paul Rako
Exotic substrates and fabrication methods are now commonplace.

Also see the EDN Hot 100 products of 2011.

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