by Dot Cannon
The recent 2016 Sensors Expo and Conference, in San Jose, went beyond showcasing ways to create something new.
It also innovated itself–with a number of new events, while keeping its strong features from the past. Those strengths included pre-conference symposia and keynote speakers.
On Tuesday, June 21st, five symposia took place at McEnery Convention Center. Conference sessions and exhibits were open on Wednesday and Thursday, June 22nd and 23rd.
Discussions and presentations included not only sensor technology to create new innovations–but some of the obstacles innovators could expect, along the way.
“Eighty per cent of people will tell you, ‘that’s a dumb idea’,” said Ray Zinn, Silicon Valley’s longest-serving CEO, during his Day 2 keynote speech.
Ray Zinn is the founder of Micrel, where he served as CEO for thirty-seven years. As an inventor, he holds multiple patents, and he is the author of the new leadership book, Tough Things First.
“What’s so special about being an innovator, you go where other people haven’t gone,” he said. “If you look at an innovation cycle, it lasts about four, five years, and then we have to create a new product.”
(After the keynote, there was a booksigning of Ray’s new book, Tough Things First, on the convention floor. Each of the keynote attendees had received a copy. Full disclosure: so did this reporter.)
Meanwhile, Sensors Expo was showing attendees its own new “products”, in the way of additions to its program.
One of our favorites (robot nerds that we are) was “Robo Madness West”–an afternoon of panels and presentations on robotics.
In addition to the programs we mentioned in previous posts, another “Robo Madness West” highlight was a demo by Transcend Robotics. While stair-climbing has presented a challenge for most robotic devices…
“This is ARTI, and ARTI was built for stair-climbing,” said Transcend Robotics CEO Phil Walker, as his robot did exactly that, very quickly. “We didn’t want to just climb some stairs. We wanted to climb three steps, within six to eight seconds.”
In addition to the new robotics sessions, 2016 Sensors Expo included “Sensors U”: several events involving the academic community.
On Thursday afternoon, the Sensors Live Theatre hosted “The Future of Engineering Education Panel”. Moderator Roger Grace’s speakers included the Dean of a top engineering school, a member of industry and a current engineering undergraduate. All of them painted a picture of an evolving, and challenging, field.
Showing a pie graph of engineering graduates throughout the world, Dean Nadine Aubry, of Northeastern University’s College of Engineering, pointed out a national shortfall.
“The portion of the pie of engineering grads in the U.S. is very small,” she said. “It’s only three percent.” (China currently has the most engineering graduates, according to her data.)
The problem, Dean Nadine and her fellow panelists said, was keeping curricula in sync with constantly-evolving technology, so that new graduates are fully prepared to enter the workforce.
“Product life cycles are so short that we don’t have time to do on-the-job training of engineers,” said panelist David Anderson. “(And) new incoming engineers need to have the ability to communicate clearly (to both technical and nontechnical listeners), and communicate across cultures.”
“Communication is the most overlooked thing about engineering,” agreed Peter Hartwell, InventSense Senior Director of Technology. “Engineering is sales.”
Hands-on co-op experience for today’s students was essential, said Northeastern University Associate Research Scientist Cihan Yilmaz. Cihan, who is entering his fourth year at Northeastern, said his education had included co-op experience, where he had the opportunity to go into industry and work on real-world engineering problems. His experience was in sharp contrast to David’s studies at Purdue University and Arizona State in the 1970s; David said he had received mostly classroom education.
“I’d like to see more real-life problems to solve in classrooms,” Yilmaz said, when asked what changes he’d like to see. “I want to see more students teaching other students about the things they learned in co-op.”
Additional new “Sensors U’ 2016 features included a poster contest, and the first-ever “Sensors Design Challenge”, in which students and engineers started from scratch and used the Internet of Things to come up with a solution to a problem.
Meanwhile, the exhibit floor was showcasing new ideas.
At the Cypress Semiconductor booth, exhibitors were programming a robot.
They used this new prototyping kit, which sells for–wait for it–ten dollars. Makers are going to love this one!
Meanwhile, we loved this. It’s a gaming device, worn just the way it looks, by Logbar, the makers of the “Ring” technology.
And does this bus look familiar?
Last year, during its stop in Long Beach, it looked like…
Since then, NXP has purchased Freescale. But, just as before, the NXP bus has been traveling on its “Smart World” tour.. Its next stop is Las Vegas, in September, to showcase “the best of the Internet of Things”.
Among the newest additions:
… the “Sunshine iRemind” child car seat alarm. If parents get fifteen feet or further away, it texts a reminder that the smallest member of the family is still in the car.
…the “Fleye” personal flying robot, with a spherical shape to solve drone safety issues.
…and, the world’s first “smart halter”, which will measure a horse’s heart rate, respiratory rate, motion and posture.
We also stopped upstairs to say “hi” again to NXP Manager of Strategic Technical Marketing, Global Sales and Marketing Iain Galloway. With a sleek new Raise 3D printer on the bus, he’d been having fun printing his head!
2016 Sensors Expo took us some exciting places in an ongoing journey. And they obviously see this year’s innovations as just one step further.
They’re already looking forward to next year.