Category Archives: Product

Updates from GE

The Heat Camera Is On: Retailers Turn To Sensors For Insight
By Bruce Watson & Dorothy Pomerantz – Online retailers have been tracking their customers and their web habits with cookies for years. No wonder their brick-and-mortar rivals are looking for new ways to play the big-data game.

The French startup IRLYNX believes it can help them set sales on fire. The company developed small heat sensors, each just 1 centimeter in diameter, that retailers can place on walls, ceilings and even in light fixtures around a store to track customers.

Picking up customers’ body heat, each sensor can monitor movement as far as 15 meters away and within a 120-degree sweep. They can detect heat variances of less than 1 degree Fahrenheit, which helps them tell a human from, say, a hot computer or a fresh cup of coffee.

The sensors can also detect the size and postures of shoppers and distinguish an adult from a child or someone who is sitting down to try on a pair of shoes. The sensors are a big upgrade from the way stores typically track shoppers — with cameras.

While the images on a camera may be clearer, it’s very difficult to use those images to track data about how people are using a store. “Video-analysis software can be easily confused by mirrors, photographs, televisions, posters — almost any images of humans,” says Guillaume Crozet, IRLYNX’s vice president for sales and marketing.

Training algorithms to disregard these false images can be time-consuming and costly. more>

Updates from Ciena

By John Hawkins – 100G. One hundred billion bits per second. Let that sink in for a minute.

You may have seen broadband offers from your local phone, cable, or wireless operator for 1 Gb/s services. But 100 Gb/s? Nice as it sounds, who needs it? Well, you’d be surprised.

As it turns out, 100GbE service is in demand for several reasons. Not in your residential context, mind you, but in a growing number of enterprise and operator scenarios – and it’s starting to get noticed. Current industry projections estimate that almost $7B (US) worth of 100G Ethernet services will sell this year, and will approach $20B by 2020.

We have been experiencing continued growth in bandwidth consumption for years. No surprise there. Shipments for 1GbE ports are still the sweet spot and the volume leader, while 10GbE ports are gaining ground according to Ovum. The trend is driven primarily by the growth in enterprise/residential service aggregation, mobile network buildouts, and data center interconnect. more>

Updates from Boeing

Boeing’s robotic and human workers join up to start production of 777X jets
By Alan Boyle – The 777X is bigger than the 787 Dreamliner, but it picks up on a lot of the technologies pioneered by the smaller plane, ranging from wider windows to a common layout for the flight deck and the cargo handling system.

Boeing says it has improved the production process as well.

The 777X production process builds upon lessons learned from the 787 Dreamliner program, which has shifted Boeing toward greater automation and wider use of lightweight carbon fiber for components.

Boeing’s two 777X variants, the 777-8 and 777-9, are designed to carry between 350 and 425 passengers. That stretches well beyond the 396-seat capacity of Boeing’s biggest current-generation 777. The new jets are expected to be 20 percent more fuel-efficient as well.

The 777X’s 235-foot wingspan is so wide that each wingtip has an 11-foot-long section that’s built to fold upward, just in case extra clearance is needed at small airports.

The showcase for the upgraded production system is Boeing’s 1.3 million-square-foot Composite Wing Center, the billion-dollar facility where the carbon-fiber wing components for the 777X are being fabricated. more>

Updates from GE

Laser Focus: Computer Vision and Machine Learning Are Speeding Up 3D Printing
By Todd Alhart – Even though companies like GE already print parts for jet engines, additive manufacturing is still a young field. It can take days to weeks to print large parts such as a compressor blade. If something goes wrong near the end of the process, precious machine time and money could go to waste.

The GE researchers are building a system that could speed up the process and eventually achieve “100 percent yield,” an engineer’s Nirvana where machines only produce good parts, beginning with the very first build. “We do a tremendous amount of work on additive powders to understand what characteristics lead to a good build,” says materials scientist Kate Gurnon, a member of the team. “We want to apply this automatically to the machines and, in real time, observe the dynamic behavior of the powder delivery to the build plate. In this way, we will have a better chance of getting to the 100 percent yield, faster.” more> https://goo.gl/RrCMK3

Updates from Ciena

Virtualizing the World of Cable
By Wayne Hickey – When cable operators saw huge demands in linear video, Video-on-Demand (VoD) and high-speed data services, and faced with an aging analog infrastructure, they moved to a Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) to increase capacity and throughput. CCAP combines headend functions into a single architecture by combing Edge Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (EQAM) and Cable Modem Termination System (CMTS).

Back in June 2011, CableLabs created CCAP by blending two competing platforms, a Comcast-backed Converged Multiservice Access Platform (CMAP) and a Time Warner Cable Converged Edge Services Access Router (CESAR) platform. The following year CCAP products were introduced, and deployed the year after.

Fast forward to today, cable operators are looking to implement software-based access platforms, migrate away from commonly deployed centralized, purpose-built CCAP equipment, and virtualize CCAP (vCCAP) — and thus begin the shift to a Distributed Access Architecture (DAA). Developed by CableLabs, vCCAP is the latest cable technologies that combines functions including the CMTS and EQAM.

Virtualizing and distributing MAC and PHY functions enables digital combining, eliminates analog optics with cost effective 10G Ethernet transport, and converts analog fiber nodes to digital optic IP-enabled devices. DAA makes it easier to push fiber deeper into the edge of the network, and along with the ability to support denser wavelengths for each fiber, digital optics greatly improves Carrier-to-Noise-Ratio (CNR), which will enable higher orders of QAM on the coax and higher performance DOCSIS technologies. more> https://goo.gl/EoPwPL

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Embedded FPGAs Offer SoC Flexibility

By Dave Lammers – It was back in 1985 that Ross Freeman invented the FPGA, gaining a fundamental patent (#4,870,302) that promised engineers the ability to use “open gates” that could be “programmed to add new functionality, adapt to changing standards or specifications, and make last-minute design changes.”

Freeman, a co-founder of Xilinx, died in 1989, too soon to see the emerging development of embedded field programmable logic arrays (eFPGAs). The IP cores offer system-on-chip (SoC) designers an ability to create hardware accelerators and to support changing algorithms. Proponents claim the approach provides advantages to artificial intelligence (AI) processors, automotive ICs, and the SoCs used in data centers, software-defined networks, 5G wireless, encryption, and other emerging applications.

With mask costs escalating rapidly, eFPGAs offer a way to customize SoCs without spinning new silicon. While eFPGAs cannot compete with custom silicon in terms of die area, the flexibility, speed, and power consumption are proving attractive.

Achronix Semiconductor (Santa Clara, Calif.) has branched out from its early base in stand-alone FPGAs, using Intel’s 22nm process, to an IP model. It is emphasizing its embeddable Speedcore eFPGAs that can be added to SoCs using TSMC’s 16FF foundry process. 7nm IP cores are under development.

Efinix Inc. (Santa Clara recently rolled out its Efinix Programmable Accelerator (EPA) technology.

Efinix (efinixinc.com) claims that its programmable arrays can either compete with established stand-alone FPGAs on performance, but at half the power, or can be added as IP cores to SoCs. The Efinix Programmable Accelerator technology can provide a look up table (LUT)-based logic cell or a routing switch, among other functions, the company said. more> https://goo.gl/nXqYvV

The Coming Software Apocalypse

By James Somers – “When we had electromechanical systems, we used to be able to test them exhaustively,” says Nancy Leveson, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has been studying software safety for 35 years. She became known for her report on the Therac-25, a radiation-therapy machine that killed six patients because of a software error. “We used to be able to think through all the things it could do, all the states it could get into.

Software is different. Just by editing the text in a file somewhere, the same hunk of silicon can become an autopilot or an inventory-control system. This flexibility is software’s miracle, and its curse. Because it can be changed cheaply, software is constantly changed; and because it’s unmoored from anything physical—a program that is a thousand times more complex than another takes up the same actual space—it tends to grow without bound. “The problem,” Leveson wrote in a book, “is that we are attempting to build systems that are beyond our ability to intellectually manage.” more> https://goo.gl/XSu4jU

Updates from Siemens

Declarative Configuration when Change is Constant
By Dave McLeish – Change is a double-edged sword. To set the scene let’s first focus on recent change for the good as relates to our own domain of product lifecycle management (PLM). In the past few years, increased mobility with smart phones and tablets has provided new opportunities for mobile access to PLM. Adoption of familiar user interface (UI) patterns from everyday life (shopping cart, smart search) and enhanced possibilities for user experience through touch and virtual assistants have enabled more of the “extended enterprise” to embrace PLM. From the shop floor where there’s touch screen access to work instructions to executives empowered to simply search, sign off and interact with dashboards on their device of choice, increasingly the whole enterprise can contribute to and view the digital thread from product development to delivery.

At the heart of this change for the good is the rich web-based access to PLM that has been made possible by html5. Rich capabilities that have meant we can begin to reimagine how we collaborate and deliver products from inception, through realization and utilization. Zero-install rich, browser-based solutions remove the need for desktop install and reduce the IT deployment overhead through firewall friendly standard https requirements.

But developing in the browser has its challenges when targeting rich capabilities over high latency WAN and with limited memory resources. Arguably the greatest challenge is managing change. Whilst the emergence of HTML5 and CSS3 among other standards have provided a reliable basis for developing web solutions, the same cannot be said for much of the web development space. more> https://goo.gl/NjgcsC

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Updates from Ciena

Optic Zoo Networks Keeps Vancouver’s Data Traveling at Blistering Speeds with Ciena

By Tony Ross – Optic Zoo Networks is a recognized brand throughout metro Vancouver due to our extensive carrier grade dark fiber network and infrastructure. Based on demand and to further accelerate our growth and better serve Tier 1 service providers, we knew it was time to take our offerings to the next level.

Our customers need to support bandwidth-hogging applications like virtual and augmented reality, as well as Internet of Things (IoT). However, in order for data to continue to flow with ease, we needed to ensure that Optic Zoo Networks was ready to support that growth. That meant offering new Carrier Ethernet Services (CES), and in turn, required that we build a Carrier Ethernet Network (CEN).

To continue to support top-echelon service providers, however, we needed to build a CEN that could scale instantaneously and meet the needs of organizations in a range of industries – from finance, healthcare, education, and more.

For example, customers that previously wanted to upgrade to higher levels of bandwidth had to go through inefficient processes, such as having to order a network loop that could take weeks. With our CEN, today’s 1G customers can easily upgrade to 10G tomorrow with a simple software upgrade. more> https://goo.gl/fh54t3

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Updates from GE

The Aviator: How A Young Pilot Became A Top-Flight 3D-Printing Engineer

By Maggie Sieger – At 15, Josh Mook got a job refueling planes and handling bags at a small airport near his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. He’d work eight hours a day after school, then blow his earnings every Saturday taking flying lessons. “I couldn’t even drive myself there,” Mook recalls. “But I was flying solo.”

Mook has been jetting into the unknown ever since. Originally considering a career in industrial design, Mook moved to aerospace engineering because it combined his love of flying with his love of math and science.

After graduating from Purdue University in 2005, he joined GE Aviation as an engineer at the GE unit’s headquarters in Cincinnati. His first big success came when he found a clever way to fix a blade durability problem in a jet engine high-pressure compressor.

Additive manufacturing methods like 3D printing build parts from the ground up, layer by layer, by fusing together metal powder or plastics. The technology is suitable for prototyping and custom production, but GE is also using it to make production parts that would be difficult to manufacture using traditional methods. more> https://goo.gl/psf2a9