Researchers at Monash University are now one step closer to providing a solution to minimising the energy wasted by modern telecommunications and computing – simply by the flick of a switch.Professor Michael Fuhrer, Dr Mark Edmonds and James Collins from the School of Physics and Astronomy at Monash University have, for the first time, successfully ‘switched’ a topological insulator off and on via application of an electrical field.This announcement is a major advancement towards the creation of a functioning topological transistor - a transistor that would burn much less energy than conventional electronics.“Ultra-low energy electronics, such as topological transistors, would allow computing to continue to grow without being limited by available energy. This becomes extremely important as we near the end of achievable improvements in traditional, silicon-based electronics,” said Professor Fuhrer.“Information and communications technology already consumes 8% of global electricity; a figure that is doubling every decade. To solve this problem, we need to develop a new type of transistor that burns less energy when it switches.“This discovery makes an important contribution in the direction of topological transistors that could transform the world of computation.”A significant proportion of the growing amount of energy used in information and communications technology is caused by transistor ‘switching’. Each time a transistor switches, a tiny amount of energy is burnt.“And with billions of transistors in each electronic device, switching billions of times each second, the amount of wasted energy adds up,” explained study co-author James Collins, a Monash University PhD student.Topological insulators are novel materials that behave as electrical insulators in their interior, but can carry a current along their edges.Unlike conventional electrical conductors, such topological edge paths can carry electrical current with near-zero dissipation of energy,” said lead author Dr Mark Edmonds..In order to be viable to the current silicon-based technology, topological transistors must operate at room temperature, without the need for expensive supercooling, and must ‘switch’ between conducting and non-conducting at a rapid rate through an electric pulse.“While switchable topological insulators have been proposed in theory, this is the first time that experiment has proved that a material can switch at room temperature, which is crucial for any viable replacement technology,” Dr Edmonds said.The research was conducted through FLEET (The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technology) – a collaboration of more than 100 researchers at seven Australian universities and 13 Australian and international science organisations. 
Key word:Wearable device
Release time:2019-01-03 00:00 reading:3057 Continue reading>>
Next month's CES in Las Vegas will see Plessey demonstrate the first AR and VR glasses powered by microLEDs.The next generation of Vuzix smart glasses will be demonstrated using technology that ditches OLEDs in favour of microLED displays. Vuzix is the first company to present Plessey’s microLEDs in action for AR applications.Plessey says that its microLEDs offer 10 times the resolution, 100 times the contrast ratio, and up to 1,000 times the luminance of traditional OLEDs. This has been achieved by using just half the power consumption, doubling battery life in portable headsets.These benefits have been recognised by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), owner and producer of CES, which has named Plessey a CES 2019 Innovation Awards Honoree in the Embedded Technologies category. Commenting Mike Lee, President of Corporate and Business Development at Plessey, said: “We’re looking forward to previewing the AR, VR and head-up display experience that microLEDs are set to create at CES. Compared with all other display technologies, microLEDs are brighter, smaller, lighter, more energy-efficient, and have a longer operating life.”Plessey microLEDs are developed using a scalable and economical, repeatable GaN-on-Silicon monolithic process that guarantees uniformly high quality and performance. This pioneering process has succeeded in eliminating the problems associated with the pick-an-place microLED display manufacturing techniques currently being used by other companies.According to Plessey, microLEDs are also about to have a huge impact on the design of pico- and micro-projectors. Here, microLED illuminators enable the form factor to be cut by 40% and optical efficiency boosted by 50%. The projects not only become smaller and lighter but they need less battery power and deliver higher quality images in every respect: brightness, resolution and contrast ratio. DMD (including DLP) and LCOS technologies are about to go the way of the cathode ray tube.Other demonstrations on the Plessey booth will include a 0.7 inch 1080p microLED comprising separate red, green and blue panels, and an addressable blue 0.7 inch microLED display running 1080p video.
Key word:AR/VR
Release time:2019-01-03 00:00 reading:2698 Continue reading>>
Nvidia has announced the launch of the Jetson AGX Xavier module, the latest addition to the company’s Jetson TX2 and TX1 family of products.According to the company, developers will be able to use the module to build autonomous machines – from delivery robots to manufacturing robots that collaborate with humans.The Jetson AGX Xavier module can serve as the powerful brain behind any robot and deliver the performance of a workstation server in a computer that fits in the palm of a hand.Consuming as little as 10 watts, the module will enable companies to go into volume production with applications developed on the Jetson AGX Xavier developer kit, bringing next-generation robots and other autonomous machines to market more quickly.The module has been designed to leverage NVIDIA’s AI platform, which is used for numerous AI applications. This includes a complete set of tools and workflows to help developers quickly train and deploy neural networks.It supports applications developed with the JetPack and DeepStream software development kits. JetPack is NVIDIA’s SDK for autonomous machines and includes support for AI, computer vision, multimedia and more.The DeepStream SDK for Jetson AGX Xavier enables streaming analytics, bringing AI to IoT and smart city applications. Developers can build multi-camera and multi-sensor applications to detect and identify objects of interest, such as vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.These SDKs save developers and companies time and money, while making it easier to add new features and functionality to machines to improve performance.With this combination of new hardware and software, it’s now possible to deploy AI-powered robots, drones, intelligent video analytics applications and other intelligent devices at scale.The Jetson AGX Xavier module brings accelerated computing capability to the Jetson family, which includes solutions at different performance levels and prices to suit a variety of autonomous robotic applications.The Jetson TX2 embedded module for edge AI applications now comes in three versions: Jetson TX2, Jetson TX2i and the newly available, lower cost Jetson TX2 4GB. Jetson TX1-based products can migrate to the more powerful Jetson TX2 4GB at the same price.NVIDIA developer kits are also available for each member of the Jetson family. With these kits, companies can create and deploy multiple applications for a variety of use cases, using one unified software architecture.
Key word:Artificial intelligence
Release time:2019-01-03 00:00 reading:2906 Continue reading>>
Clothing embedded with tiny solar cells the size of a flea can allow wearers to generate electricity on the move and charge items like mobile phones and smartwatches.Nottingham Trent University has developed a way to embed miniaturised solar cells into yarn that can then be knitted and woven into textiles.The technology has been tested and proven to charge a mobile phone and a Fitbit.The cells are encapsulated in a resin which allows the textile fabric to be washed and worn like any other form of clothing.Measuring only three millimetres in length and 1.5 millimetres in width, the cells are almost invisible to the naked eye and cannot be felt by the wearer.For all intents and purposes, garments appear exactly the same as any other form of clothing despite having the capability to generate electricity.Project lead Professor Tilak Dias, of the School of Art & Design, said: “By embedding miniaturised solar cells into yarn we can create clothing and fabric that generate power in a sustainable way.“The clothing would look and behave like any other textile, but within the fibres would be a network of miniaturised cells which are creating electricity.“This could do away with the need to plug items into wall sockets and reduce the demand on the grid while cutting carbon emissions.“The electrical power demand for smart e-textiles has always been its Achilles heel and this technology will allow people to use smart textiles while on the move.”Up to 200 miniaturised cells can generate 2.5-10 volts and up to 80 miliwatts in power. The university’s Advanced Textiles Research Group made a proof of concept textile of 5cm by 5cm size with 200 cells.This proved powerful enough to charge a mobile phone and a Fitbit (please see video). Researchers say if 2,000 solar cells were incorporated into a textile it would generate enough power to charge a smart phone.Researcher Achala Satharasinghe, who developed the prototype as part of his PhD at the university, said: “This is an exciting technology which could revolutionise the way we think about solar power, clothing and wearable technology.“With the availability of miniaturised solar cells we can generate power in a range of new ways, by utilising things like clothing, fashion accessories, textiles and more.“It will allow mobile devices to be charged in environmentally-friendly ways which are more convenient for consumers than ever before.”
Key word:Power battery
Release time:2019-01-03 00:00 reading:3002 Continue reading>>
The first ever worldwide standards for the drone industry are being released by the International Standards Organisation (ISO).After several years of global collaboration between standards institutions from across the world, the long-awaited drone standards have been developed.These regulations are expected to trigger rapid acceleration of growth within the drone industry as organisations throughout the world are galvanised to adopt drone technology against a new background of reassurance on safety and security. The new standards will play an essential role in guiding how drones are used safely and effectively in a framework of regulatory compliance.The ISO Draft International Standards for Drone Operations have been formally released today (21 November 2018) for public consultation, with drone professionals, academics, businesses and the general public being invited to submit comments by 21 Jan 2019. Final adoption of these Standards can be expected in the US, UK and worldwide next year.The announcement is the first important step in the standardisation of the global drone industry, encompassing applications for all environments - surface, underwater, air and space. Today’s standards are particularly significant for the general public and Government, in that they address Operational Requirements of the more recognised and prevalent aerial drones, including protocols on safety, security and overall etiquette for the use of drones, which will shape regulation and legislation going forward. They are the first in a four part series for aerial drones, with the next three addressing General Specifications, Manufacturing Quality and Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM).Air safetyA prime characteristic of the ISO Standards announced today, is their focus on air safety, which is at the forefront of public attention in connection with airports and other sensitive locations. The new standards act as a new etiquette for drones which promote and reinforce compliance regarding no-fly zones, local regulation, flight log protocols, maintenance, training and flight planning documentation. Social responsibility is also at the heart of the standards, strengthening the responsible use of a technology that aims to improve and not obstruct everyday life. The effectiveness of the standards in improving air safety will be further strengthened by the rapid development of geo-fencing and of counter-drone technology, providing frontline protection against ‘rogue’ drone use.Privacy and data protectionThe standards are also set to address public concerns surrounding privacy and data protection, demanding that operators must have appropriate systems to handle data alongside communications and control planning when flying. The hardware and software of all related operating equipment must also be kept up to date. Significantly, the fail-safe of human intervention is required for all drone flights, including autonomous operations, ensuring that drone operators are accountable.
Key word:Robot drone
Release time:2018-12-03 00:00 reading:1221 Continue reading>>
A lack of quality control in the graphene market has led to inferior products being touted as high-grade. In response, a National University of Singapore (NUS) research team has developed what it says is a reliable way to test graphene quality.Ever since the isolation of graphene was first achieved in 2004, there has been an explosion in graphene-related research and development, with hundreds of business opportunists producing graphene to capitalise on this rapidly expanding industry. However, a new study by researchers from the NUS has uncovered a major problem – a lack of production standards has led to many cases of poor quality graphene from suppliers. Such practices can impede the progress of research that depend fundamentally on the use of high-quality graphene.“It is alarming to uncover that producers are labelling black powders as graphene and selling them for top dollar, while in reality, they contain mostly cheap graphite," said Professor Antonio Castro Neto, Director of the NUS Centre for Advanced 2D Materials, who led the study."There is a strong need to set up stringent standards for graphene characterisation and production to create a healthy and reliable graphene market worldwide."Graphene is typically produced by exfoliating graphite into a powder, submerging this into a liquid, and then separating the tiniest graphene flakes by using sound energy to vibrate the mixture. The aim of this synthesis is to produce the thinnest graphene possible. Pure graphene would be just one atomic layer thick, however the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) states that stacks of graphene flakes up to ten layers thick can still behave like graphene.With this in mind, Prof Castro Neto and his team set out to develop a systematic and reliable method for establishing the quality of graphene samples from around the world. They were able to achieve this by using a wide range of analytical techniques and tested samples from many suppliers.Upon analysing samples from over 60 different providers from the Americas, Asia and Europe, the NUS team discovered that the majority contained less than 10 per cent of what can be considered graphene flakes. The bulk of the samples was graphite powder that was not exfoliated properly.“Whether producers of the counterfeit graphene are aware of the poor quality is unclear. Regardless, the lack of standards for graphene production gives rise to bad quality of the material sold in the open market. This has been stalling the development of the future applications,” elaborated Prof Castro Neto.Graphite powder and graphene have wildly different properties, so any research conducted under the pretext that the sample was pure graphene would give inaccurate results. In addition, just one of the samples tested in the study contained more than 40 per cent of high-quality graphene. Some samples were even contaminated with other chemicals used in the production process. These findings mean that researchers could be wasting valuable time and money performing experiments on a product that is falsely advertised, says NUS.“This is the first ever study to analyse statistically the world production of graphene flakes. Considering the important challenges related to health, climate, and sustainability that graphene may be able to solve, it is crucial that research is not hindered in this way,” explained Prof Castro Neto.With this discovery, and the development of a reliable testing procedure, graphene samples may now be held to a higher standard.“We hope that our results will speed up the process of standardisation of graphene within ISO as there is a huge market need for that. This will urge graphene producers worldwide to improve their methods to produce a better, properly characterised product that could help to develop real-world applications,” said Prof Castro Neto.In addition, NUS believes that testing graphene using a universal and standardised way has the potential to ensure easy quantitative comparisons between data produced from different laboratories and users around the world.
Key word:graphene
Release time:2018-12-03 00:00 reading:3759 Continue reading>>
UltraSoC has launched the Lockstep Monitor, a hardware-based, scalable solution, that helps functional safety by checking that the cores at the heart of a critical system are operating reliably, safely and securely.UltraSoC’s flexible IP supports all common lockstep/redundancy architectures, including full dual-redundant lockstep, split/lock, master/checker, and voting with any number of cores or subsystems.The Lockstep Monitor can support any processor architecture or other subsystem, including custom logic or accelerators. Lockstep operation is needed for safety standards such as ISO26262 for automotive, IEC 61508, EN50126/8/9 and CE 402/2013.The Monitor consists of a set of configurable semiconductor IP (SIP) blocks that are protocol aware and can be used to cross-check outputs, bus transactions, code execution and even register states, between two or more redundant systems. It can be used with any processor architecture, including those – such as the emerging RISC-V architecture – which lack native support for lockstep configurations. In addition to traditional processor cores, it can also check other subsystems or accelerators. Because it is implemented in hardware, it responds at wire speed and imposes no execution overhead on the host system.Unlike more traditional approaches, the Lockstep Monitor includes flexible, run-time configurable embedded intelligence, allowing the SoC designer to tailor the monitoring and response system precisely to the application.Monitoring can be implemented at a variety of levels of granularity: at the subsystem level (comparing the outputs of the two processors); at the transaction level (for example comparing bus traffic); at the instruction level, using UltraSoC’s advanced instruction trace capability; and at the most fundamental hardware-level, checking processor internal states or register contents.By embedding intelligence in the system, UltraSoC also allows more sophisticated comparisons between the operation of the lockstep processors than can be achieved with traditional solutions.RISC-V is gaining increasing traction in safety-critical applications, particularly in the automotive industry. However, the RISC-V ecosystem lacks support for the functional safety and security principles – such as lockstep operation – mandated by global standards such as ISO26262 for functional safety, J3061 for cybersecurity, IEC 61508, EN50126/8/9 and CE 402/2013.UltraSoC’s Lockstep Monitor allows any RISC-V system, whether using open source or commercial cores, to incorporate sophisticated safety capabilities.Lockstep systems employ two or more processor subsystems running the same code in a redundant backup configuration. The cores may be clock-cycle synchronised, or offset by a small number of cycles, an arrangement that protects against transient errors in the surrounding system.The outputs, code execution or bus traffic from the subsystems are compared and if the results differ, an error can be signalled. Lockstep systems with two processors are typically configured in a ‘master/checker’ arrangement; those with more than two processors may use ‘voting’ or other redundancy schemes.More sophisticated “split/lock” processor arrangements may allow the lockstep function to be dynamically engaged and disengaged, allowing the cores to run in redundant mode or to run different code for higher performance.
Key word:safety-critical
Release time:2018-12-03 00:00 reading:2841 Continue reading>>
Renesas Electronics is expanding its partnership to offer an integrated virtualisation functional safety and secure development environment for the Renesas R-Car system-on-chip (SoC) devices. Using BlackBerry’s QNX software, it was developed as part of the companies’ ongoing strategic relationship to advance autonomous and connected driving technology.The development environment is an expansion of Renesas’ software package lineup for the R-Car automotive computing platform. It allows automotive cockpit system designers to quickly develop advanced cockpit systems and improve the user experience.The development environment is based on the Renesas R-Car family and features BlackBerry's QNX Software Development Platform 7.0 and QNX Hypervisor 2.0 virtualisation software. It also provides access to the set of software products developed by BlackBerry, allowing designers to leverage the multimedia and HMI-related software for cockpit graphics systems development.The development environment takes full advantage of the virtualisation functions available in Renesas R-Car devices, says Renesas. This contributes to building functionally safe digital cockpit systems by isolating functions such as cluster and navigation, thereby ensuring that a fault in one area cannot corrupt another. The QNX Hypervisor 2.0 allows disparate guest operating systems such as Android and Linux to execute independently on a single R-Car device.The demand for highly reliable, fully integrated hardware and software is rapidly increasing in markets like China, where there is a need for the fastest possible development velocity in connected transportation, says Renesas.Moving forward, Renesas and BlackBerry will continue to accelerate their development of integrated cockpit systems and connected car systems, while strengthening their joint efforts for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and full-scale Electronic Control Unit (ECU) integration.
Key word:Intelligent hardware
Release time:2018-10-31 00:00 reading:1187 Continue reading>>
Infineon Technologies says it is enabling a “crucial” step toward greater cybersecurity in the connected car, as the world’s first semiconductor manufacturer to put a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) specifically for automotive applications on the market.The OPTIGA TPM 2.0 is designed to protect communication between the car manufacturer and the vehicle which increasingly turns into a computer on wheels.Mobility of the future requires the exchange of huge volumes of data. Cars send real-time traffic information to the cloud or receive updates from the manufacturer “over the air”, for example to update software quickly and in a cost-effective manner. The senders and recipients of that data, whether car makers or individual components in the car, require cryptographic security keys to authenticate themselves.By using TPM, Infineon says car manufacturers can incorporate sensitive security keys for assigning access rights, authentication and data encryption in the car in a protected way. The TPM can also be updated so that the level of security can be kept up to date throughout the vehicle’s service life. The critical keys are particularly protected against logical and physical attacks in the OPTIGA TPM as if they were in a safe.Furthermore, incorporating the first or initial key into the vehicle is a particularly sensitive moment for car makers. When the TPM is used, this step can be carried out in Infineon’s certified production environment. After that, the keys are protected against unauthorised access; there is no need for further special security precautions throughout the various stages of the – often globally distributed – value chain.The TPM likewise generates, stores and administers further security keys for communication within the vehicle. And it is also used to detect faulty or manipulated software and components in the vehicle and initiate troubleshooting by the manufacturer in such a case.Whereas a vehicle has an average service life time of 12 to 15 years, security features and algorithms keep on being developed and enhanced on a continuous basis. The TPM’s firmware can be updated by remote access so the security it offers can be kept up-to-date – including the cryptographic mechanisms (cryptoagility).The OPTIGA TPM 2.0 SLI 9670 from Infineon is a plug & play solution for automotive applications. It is especially suited for use in a central gateway, the telematics unit or the infotainment system of the vehicle.The SLI 9670 consists of an attack-resistant security chip and high-performance firmware developed in accordance with the latest security standard. The firmware enables immediate use of security features, such as encryption, decryption, signing and verification.According to Infineon, the TPM can be integrated quickly and easily in the system thanks to the open source software stack (TSS stack) for the host processor, which is also provided by Infineon. It has an SPI interface, an extended temperature range from -40°C to 105°C and the advanced encryption algorithms RSA-2048, ECC-256 and SHA-256.The new TPM complies with the internationally acknowledged Trusted Computing Group TPM 2.0 standard, is certified for security according to Common Criteria and is qualified in accordance with the automotive standard AEC-Q100. It is available now available and manufactured in security-certified production facilities of Infineon Germany and the Philippines. 
Key word:Vehicle electronics
Release time:2018-10-31 00:00 reading:1341 Continue reading>>

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