Hot technologies: Looking ahead to 2016

EDN staff -December 01, 2015

In a way, 2015 was a tipping point, a year that saw its own innovations but in many ways brought electronics across the bridge to promises we’ve heard for some time.

Promises of affordable and efficient LED lighting, smart and useful wearables, cars with driver assistance, advanced power systems to meet the needs of growing data center and mobile data traffic, and much more.

As we head toward 2016, we look forward to more innovation and advances, to promises being met and more promises ahead. Here, EDN and EE Times editors explore some of the hot technologies in 2016 that will shape next year’s technology trends and beyond.

Each article offers the opportunity for you, members of the engineering community, to share your own thoughts about the technologies and devices presented, as well as on other hot technologies you see on the horizon.

Click through the below hot technologies articles and be sure to share your thoughts as we look ahead to 2016.


Driven by IEEE standards, Ethernet hits the road in 2016
A new trend emerging in the automotive market in 2016 is the migration of Ethernet, a tried-and-true computer network technology, into connected cars. The proliferation of advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) features in many vehicles is also expected to expand Ethernet use.

Embedded security taking root
Embedded systems that add connectivity face many challenges, of which the need for security is both vital and misunderstood. But vendors and developers have been getting the message and solutions are appearing in greater numbers, from software libraries to MCUs with a secure root of trust.

Energy harvesting for high power
It’s taking a while to sow the seeds for energy harvesting. While much industry focus may be on powering the Internet of Things, the future may be bigger for energy harvesting.

Environmental compliance 2016: Safe world, strong business
In the electronics industry, the topic of environmental compliance has taken its place in the sweet spot between legally mandated and good for business. Increasingly, OEMs are tackling topics that range from climate change to water safety to waste management.

Galvanic skin response stimulates wearable electronics
A fast growing market in the health and fitness arena is the wearable device, which monitors with GSR to accurately predict cardiovascular dynamics.

High stakes in broadband satellites race  
Building a satellite network and associated ground-based facilities and user terminals to provide Internet access to even the remotest and poorest parts of the world will be a huge technical, regulatory, and business challenge. Just as well then that some of the richest and most entrepreneurial mavericks are promoting competing projects, with some giant electronics groups seeking to enter the fray.

IoT networks heat up
Low-power wide area networks for the Internet of Things have been attracting new entrants and investors at a heady pace with unannounced offerings still in the pipeline for 2016 trying to enable new IoT apps by undercutting costs and battery life for cellular and WiFi.

LED lighting: More intelligent, more beautiful, more affordable
The LED industry's products will become more efficient, reliable, and, one can hope, interoperable in the near future. But underlying all these advances will be the relentless pressure to deliver LEDs at lower price points.

PAM4: A new measurement science
PAM4 modulation adds a complexity to serial data communications. Measuring its characteristics is a learning experience in progress.

Sensor-rich ADAS speeds up
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and autonomous vehicles continue forward as sensors begin to move into the role of not just capturing data effectively, but also analyzing it and communicating the results to the driver and the vehicle.

Software-defined power brings to bear critical need in modern power systems
Growing data center and mobile data traffic is pushing data centers and telecom central offices to their limits of power efficiency and heat excess. Software-defined power has the potential to alleviate this challenge.

The year of 3D memory
3D ICs have been around for a while, but now they’re getting real.

Voice-activated interface becomes pervasive and persistent
Evolutionary algorithm improvements, ongoing progress in optimizing processor performance, power consumption and cost-effectiveness, and pervasive, high-bandwidth and "cloud" server resources are among the drivers of the speech-interface explosion.

2D semiconductors take aim at optical communications
Developments in the lab offer glimpses of a technology that could change the future of high-performance optical links.

2016: The year of the nanotube transistor?
Carbon nanotubes have once again become popular as the replacement for silicon, which is reaching the end of the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors. After 15 years, researchers are returning to nanotubes with a vengeance. Last year IBM claimed “nanotube transistors by 2020 or bust” and has already demonstrated a working nanotube transistor with a 9-nanometer channel and a clear path down to the 1.8-nanometer node.


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