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The commercialization of digital circuit breakers

EDN Network - Wed, 08/23/2023 - 12:13

Ryan Kennedy began his career as an electrician, and after spending six years in the power distribution industry, he went to college to become a professional engineer. During his college days and soon after that, Kennedy worked on building designs, which included facilities like data centers with large power systems.

That’s when he developed this idea that the future would be electrified more than previously seen, which meant that many things had to change on the grid as well as on the electrical consumption side. Since 2003, Kennedy started noticing that while we put a big emphasis on the grid stuff, power consumption defines everything.

“At the end of the day, billions of points of consumption define the grid needs,” he added. “The idea was that if consumption is going to be the most important element of the system, then protection, visibility, and control are super important at the points of consumption.” So, Kennedy started thinking about a unified method for doing all that.

The view was that all circuits need protection, visibility, and control whether it’s a device charger or a heat, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. And if there is one element in front of everything that consumes energy, it’s the circuit breaker. “It’s universal across every industry, including residential and industrial power systems,” Kennedy said.

So, the idea was that instead of spending money on HVAC control or industrial control systems, you buy circuit breakers that can do these things. “You can do it using a sophisticated software platform, but you still need hardware to do that,” Kennedy added.

For him, that meant that there must be a new solid-state circuit breaker, utilizing semiconductors instead of mechanics to control the energy flow. There are different current ratings in electrical systems because the physics of mechanical breakers and control systems wildly change depending on which environment you are in to be fault tolerant. “Semiconductors do pretty good in fault tolerance.”

Figure 1 From an electrician to CEO of a power electronics company, Kennedy’s journey in power systems encompasses 28 years. Source: Atom Power

Solid-state circuit breakers

After co-founding Atom Power in 2014, Kennedy and his team set out to commercialize solid-state circuit breaker technology. It was certainly not a new idea; it’s been experimented with for at least four decades. “But our view was that the world needs a universal platform for protection, visibility, and control at the edge of the power grid.”

“If you look at the world’s energy, between 85% to 90% is consumed from 100-A or lower circuits,” he said. “So, we thought of solid-state circuit breaker up to three-phase and 100 A as our flagship technology product.” Kennedy added that it was more of technology development that can be applied to all markets at some point.

By 2019, Atom Power became the first company to commercialize solid-state circuit breakers. It also received the first UL listing for solid-state circuit breakers. But Kennedy and his teams also recognized that it was a new product category. “It was chaotic in the beginning, and then we realized that we have to focus on one industry, at least for the time being.”

So, in 2021, Atom Power decided to focus on a major pain point in the market: electric vehicle (EV) charging. “We’ve replaced the complexity of the traditional EV chargers with the software-defined digital circuit breaker, pairing it with application-based hardware,” Kennedy said.

Figure 2 The first UL-listed commercial solid-state digital circuit breaker facilitates centralized charging at the panel level, providing both circuit protection and EV charging. Source: Atom Power

Atom Power manufactures the circuit breaker along with the board where it sits and the peripheral equipment. The company also manufactures silicon carbide (SiC) modules that feature avalanche protection, control systems, and current sensing.

“Unlike the traditional mechanical breaker, which is a single-purpose device, we can use SiC technology to bridge the flow of energy, both from circuit protection and control standpoints,” Kennedy said. “With SiC switching, we can achieve everything in one box.”

A key thing here is that UL still requires that when a breaker trips, it’s galvanically isolated. Here, SiC does the work as galvanic connections never break under load.

Charging for EV fleets

Atom Power has recently announced to supply solid-state breaker EV charging solutions to Inovis Energy, an energy services company, which is building charging infrastructure for Mecklenburg Paint Company to transition its fleet to EVs by 2025. The project was launched in July 2023.

Figure 3 Digital circuit breaker technology enables EVs to charge from a centralized panel. Source: Inovis Energy

Inovis will install solid-state digital circuit breakers to charge vehicles from a centralized panel, eliminating the need for expensive utility upgrades. Otherwise, traditional chargers necessitate a utility transformer upgrade, thereby increasing costs and project timeline.

The system enables the installation of eight charging ports using the existing transformer capacity. Moreover, the installed EV charging ports will be fully networked for secure on-premise and cloud-based asset and power management. That’s also a step closer to the premise of dynamic power management.

Atom Power is headquartered in Huntersville, North Carolina.

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Bentley Systems’ iTwin Ventures Acquires Blyncsy, Breakthrough Innovator in AI Services for Transportation Operations and Maintenance

ELE Times - Wed, 08/23/2023 - 09:11

To Broaden and Accelerate Infrastructure Asset Analytics 

Bentley Systems, Incorporated (Nasdaq: BSY), the infrastructure engineering software company, today announced the acquisition of Blyncsy provider of breakthrough artificial intelligence services for departments of transportation to support operations and maintenance activities. The digital twin ecosystem focus of Bentley’s iTwin Ventures portfolio is bolstered by accelerating the development and propagation of such broadly valuable infrastructure asset analytics.

Founded in 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah, by CEO Mark Pittman, Blyncsy applies computer vision and artificial intelligence in analyzing commonly available imagery to identify maintenance issues on roadway networks. Pittman originally conceived the idea for the company while stuck at a traffic light, believing there had to be ways to combine “real-time” condition data and innovative technologies to help DoTs become more efficient.

Blyncsy’s disruptive AI services replace costly and slow manual data collection efforts, reducing the need for personnel or specialized vehicles or hardware in the field and improving transportation owner-operators’ awareness and timely mitigation of road conditions. Blyncsy detects over 50 different roadway safety issues, including the actual location of active construction work zones.

Pittman said, “Blyncsy is committed to applying the latest AI and machine learning techniques to benefit transportation networks. This alignment with Bentley will only strengthen the value to our users and together we will provide even deeper asset analytics to transportation owners, to support the drivers of today and tomorrow.”

“Safety is our first priority, and operational efficiency is a high number 2. We depend on real-time data, like the information we receive from Blyncsy, to proactively manage the highway system to be as safe and reliable as possible,” said Hawaii Department of Transportation Director Ed Sniffen. “HDOT embraces technology that enables us to run in the most productive manner possible. Blyncsy gets us weekly reports with graphics and photos detailing guardrail, roadway, and vegetation conditions that provide more tools to allow us to prioritize our resources to address the needs of the system.”

Bentley’s iTwin Ventures managing executive, Mike Schellhase, said, “Blyncsy came to our attention for potential participation in a successive VC investment round. But we were so convinced of the significance of their breakthrough that we undertook its outright acquisition, in order to scale it rapidly and pervasively. We expect investments in widespread asset analytics to accelerate leveraging infrastructure digital twins.”

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Blyncsy will adopt Bentley’s iTwin Platform for immersive integration with infrastructure owners’ engineering and simulation models, and Bentley will incorporate and bring to market Blyncsy’s AI services within its emerging mobility digital twin offerings.

The acquisition was supported for Blyncsy by Ignatious Growth Capital and Advisory. Blyncsy’s investors included: Peterson Ventures, Doug Wells, Elemental Excelerator, Park City Angel Network, OakHouse Partners, and CEAS Investments.

Image 1Image 1

Blyncsy’s automated AI road inspection technology detecting paint line presence and its visibility

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Automated pothole detection is a critical variable, as potholes grow when snowplows and cold weather impact the roadway. Blyncsy uses AI to detect these automatically.

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Roadways are worn down by vehicles driving on them. Different types of vehicles and heavier vehicles wear roadways faster. Blyncsy’s AI application reports changes to users so they can fix the road at the appropriate time to reduce the costs for transportation managers.

Image 4Image 4

Blyncsy’s automated road inspection application uses AI to identify roadway assets, assess their condition, and alert users to problems. Image courtesy of Bentley Systems.

About Bentley Systems

Bentley Systems (Nasdaq: BSY) is the infrastructure engineering software company. We provide innovative software to advance the world’s infrastructure – sustaining both the global economy and environment. Our industry-leading software solutions are used by professionals, and organizations of every size, for the design, construction, and operations of roads and bridges, rail and transit, water and wastewater, public works and utilities, buildings and campuses, mining, and industrial facilities. Our offerings, powered by the iTwin Platform for infrastructure digital twins, include MicroStation and Bentley Open applications for modeling and simulation, Seequent’s software for geoprofessionals, and Bentley Infrastructure Cloud encompassing ProjectWise for project delivery, SYNCHRO for construction management, and AssetWise for asset operations. Bentley Systems’ 5,000 colleagues generate annual revenues of more than $1 billion in 194 countries.

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Two-half-period rectifiers on op amps

EDN Network - Tue, 08/22/2023 - 20:17

Schemes of two-half-period rectifiers on op amps with switching inputs in accordance with the polarity of the input voltage are given. The switching of inputs is performed by a control signal taken from the output of the zero-indicator made on the comparator.

Precision two-half-period rectifiers, whose operation is based on switching inputs in accordance with the polarity of the input voltage, usually contain an op amp, the non-inverting input of which is shunted by a diode, Figure 1, R1 = R2 = 2R3.

Figure 1 Classical scheme of a precision two-half-period rectifier.

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When a positive half-wave of the input voltage enters the input, the diode D1 is locked. The op amp U1 operates in the mode of a non-inverting amplifier with a transmission coefficient equal to R2/R1. The output voltage is equal to the input voltage: Uout = Uin.

When a negative half-wave of the corresponding amplitude arrives at the input of the device, the diode D1 opens, the circuit operates in the mode of an inverting amplifier with a transmission coefficient equal to –1, Uout = –Uin.

The disadvantage of the circuit is obvious: with a low input voltage of negative polarity due to the fact that the diode D1 has a noticeable resistance, Uout ≠ –Uin. In practice, the amplitude of the input signal when using the op amp U1 LM324 and the diode D1 1N4148 should be in the range of 2.5 V to the supply voltage.

It is possible to improve the operation of a precision two-half-period rectifier by using key elements (FET Q1, Figure 2, or analog switch U2, Figure 3), controlled by a zero detector on the comparator U1.1.

The practical scheme of the first of the devices is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2 A two-half-period rectifier with switching of the input of an op amp by a FET.

A zero detector of the input signal is made on the comparator U1.1 of the LM339 chip. From the output of this detector, the control signal is applied to the gate of the FET Q1 2N3823, which switches the input of the op amp U2.1 of the LM324 chip.

The amplitude of the input signal when using an op amp U2.1 LM324 and a FET Q1 2N3823 should be in the range of 0.5 V from the supply voltage.

It is possible to improve a two-half-period rectifier by using an analog U3 switch as a switching element such as Figure 3, for example, CD4066, or a more modern element with less losses. To reduce the resistance of the public key, all 4 channels of the CD4066 switch should be connected in parallel. The switch S1 can change the polarity of the output signals.

Figure 3 A two-half-period rectifier with switching of the input of an op amp by an analog switch.

The precision of the two-half-period rectifier in Figure 3 is operable in the input voltage range from 20 mV to the supply voltage of the device. The maximum frequency of the rectifier is 100 kHz and depends on the frequency properties of the active elements.

Michael A. Shustov is a doctor of technical sciences, candidate of chemical sciences and the author of over 750 printed works in the field of electronics, chemistry, physics, geology, medicine, and history.

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Pasternack Introduces Hermetically Sealed RF Connectors and Adapters

ELE Times - Tue, 08/22/2023 - 15:22

New Line of Hermetically Sealed RF Components Meets Needs of Military and Defense

IRVINE, Calif. – Pasternack, an Infinite Electronics brand and a leading provider of RF, microwave and millimeter-wave products, has announced a new series of hermetically sealed RF connectors and adapters designed to meet the stringent requirements of military and defense applications.

The hermetically sealed terminal connectors and bulkhead-mount adapters in the series are developed with a variety of BNC, Type N, TNC, SMA, 2.92 mm and 2.4 mm options. This provides users with a vast range of options tailored to various specifications and needs.

Adhering to the rigorous MIL-STD-348B connector interfaces, this product line confirms its commitment to delivering top-tier performance and reliability.

In addition to their versatility, these connectors and adapters exhibit remarkable resilience across a wide temperature spectrum, highlighting their suitability for even the most challenging environments.

Furthermore, they exhibit remarkable leak rates of 1×10-6 and 1×10-8 helium per second, epitomizing Pasternack’s dedication to crafting products with a strong focus on quality.

“What sets this line apart is its ability to perform in harsh environments that require a highly robust seal, coupled with its superior electrical efficiency,” said Product Line Manager Kevin Hietpas. “The combination of adaptability, strength and superior functionality ensures that our customers receive the most advanced solutions for their mission-critical applications.”

Pasternack’s hermetically sealed RF connectors and adapters are in stock and available for same-day shipping. For inquiries, please call +1 (949) 261-1920.

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About Pasternack:

A leader in RF products since 1972, Pasternack is an ISO 9001:2015-certified manufacturer and supplier offering the industry’s largest selection of active and passive RF, microwave and millimeter-wave products available for same-day shipping. Pasternack is an Infinite Electronics brand.

About Infinite Electronics:

Based in Irvine, Calif., Infinite Electronics offers a broad range of components, assemblies and wired/wireless connectivity solutions to the aerospace/defense, industrial, government, consumer electronics, instrumentation, medical and telecommunications markets. Its brands include Pasternack, Fairview Microwave, L-com, MilesTek, ShowMeCables, NavePoint, INC Installs, Integra Optics, PolyPhaser, Transtector, KP Performance Antennas, RadioWaves and Aiconics. Infinite serves its customers with deep technical expertise and support. Its broad inventory is available for immediate shipment, fulfilling unplanned demand for engineers and technical buyers. Infinite is a Warburg Pincus portfolio company.

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NECTO IDE from MIKROE adds GNU C for ARM supports more MCU cores from ST, TI and NXP

ELE Times - Tue, 08/22/2023 - 15:10

Myriad of new features includes Planet Debug board sorting functionality and easy access

MikroElektronika (MIKROE), the embedded solutions company that dramatically cuts development time by providing innovative hardware and software products based on proven standards, has launched a new version of its powerful IDE (Integrated Development Environment), NECTO™ Studio 4.0, which now includes including full releases of mikroC AI for ARM, PIC, PIC32, dsPIC, and AVR. The update also adds GNU C for ARM, and makes using Planet Debug™, which enables designers to develop and debug embedded systems remotely over the internet without investing in hardware, more powerful and simpler to use.

One of the most significant new features of NECTO Studio 4.0 is the natural and seamless integration of the GNU C compiler for ARM. This extends support for a range of cores including M0, M0+, M3, M4, and M7 from various vendors such as STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments, and NXP. This integration is especially beneficial as it provides compatibility with mikroSDK libraries for ARM, allowing developers to use a myriad of Click libraries on ARM microcontrollers with the GNU C Compiler. Moreover, developers can switch between different architectures without the need to modify their code.

Another new addition is the introduction of NECTO Studio Plot, a real-time data collection tool that requires no additional hardware or bulky libraries. With just a single line of code, developers can log data, which is collected in an Excel-like table view. This data can be exported to a CSV file at any moment, which is highly beneficial for data analysis and reporting, and is set to change how developers collect and visualize data from microcontrollers.

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As Planet Debug continues to gain in popularity, MIKROE is continuing to add new features into NECTO, the IDE on which Planet Debug runs. In NECTO Studio 4.0, one notable enhancement is the automated sorting function, which intelligently prioritizes and displays available boards prominently. This sorting mechanism saves developers’ time, enabling them to quickly identify and select the boards they need without scrolling through a potentially long list.

Comments Nebojsa Matic, CEO of MIKROE: “Our mission is to save design engineers time. Every new feature we add into NECTO aims to make the design engineer more productive. Take MIKROE Passport, that is also new.  A unique login system that unifies access across all MIKROE platforms, including NECTO Studio, Planet Debug, Libstock, MIKROE forum and MIKROE shop, MIKROE Passport allows developers to use their existing accounts from Google, GitHub, Microsoft, Facebook, or Apple to connect with MIKROE, eliminating the need for maintaining multiple accounts and passwords, making access to MIKROE’s resources more streamlined and hassle-free. Of course, it is also totally secure.”

A new video is available on MIKROE’s YouTube channel which explains all the new features.

About MikroElektronika

MikroElektronika (MIKROE) is committed to changing the embedded electronics industry through the use of industry standard hardware and software solutions. In 2011, the company invented the mikroBUS™ development socket standard and the compact Click™ boards for peripherals that use the standard to dramatically cut development time. Now the company offers more than 1450 Click boards – ten times more than competitors – and the mikroBUS standard is included by many leading microcontroller companies on their development boards. SiBRAIN™ is MIKROE’s standard for MCU development add-on boards and sockets and the company’s DISCON™  standard enables uses to choose between a wide variety of supported LCDs and touchscreen options. MIKROE also offers NECTO™, the world’s most flexible IDE, as well as industry’s widest range of compilers, plus development boards, programmers and debuggers. MIKROE’s Planet Debug™ – the embedded industry’s first hardware-as-a-service – enables designers to develop and debug embedded systems remotely over the internet without investing in hardware.

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Fairview Microwave Announces Low-Frequency Waveguide Standard Gain Horns

ELE Times - Tue, 08/22/2023 - 15:00

New Devices Are Set to Transform Landscape of Antenna and Wireless System Testing

IRVINE, Calif. – Fairview Microwave, an Infinite Electronics brand and a leading provider of on-demand RF, microwave and millimeter-wave components, has announced the release of its groundbreaking low-frequency waveguide standard gain horns.

Designed to enhance test and measurement applications, the low-frequency waveguide standard gain horns offer a comprehensive solution for characterizing antennas and wireless systems. With their unique ability to support frequency ranges as low as 320 MHz, they ensure precision and versatility in an increasingly complex field.

These waveguide horns are designed for easy integration into existing setups, boasting direct mounting capabilities to other waveguide systems. Made from high-grade aluminum, the horns are built for durability and longevity. The inclusion of a corrosion-resistant powder coating ensures their reliable performance in a variety of environments.

The low-frequency waveguide standard gain horns present an affordable alternative for customers who do not require TAA/US-made products. However, these products do not compromise on quality or functionality, maintaining consistent gain versus frequency for accurate and consistent test and measurement results.

“Our new waveguide horns demonstrate our commitment to providing advanced solutions that empower our clients,” said Product Line Manager Kevin Hietpas. “We’re offering high-quality, affordable solutions that cater to a wide range of testing needs.”

Fairview’s new low-frequency waveguide standard gain horns are in stock and available for same-day shipping. For inquiries, please call +1 (949) 261-1920.

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About Fairview Microwave:

A leading supplier of on-demand RF and microwave products since 1992, Fairview offers immediate delivery of RF components including attenuators, adapters, coaxial cable assemblies, connectors, terminations and much more. All products are shipped same-day from the company’s ISO 9001:2015-certified production facilities in Lewisville, Texas. Fairview Microwave is an Infinite Electronics brand.

About Infinite Electronics:

Based in Irvine, Calif., Infinite Electronics offers a broad range of components, assemblies and wired/wireless connectivity solutions to the aerospace/defense, industrial, government, consumer electronics, instrumentation, medical and telecommunications markets. Its brands are Pasternack, Fairview Microwave, L-com, MilesTek, ShowMeCables, NavePoint, INC Installs, Integra Optics, PolyPhaser, Transtector, KP Performance Antennas, RadioWaves and Aiconics. Infinite serves its customers with deep technical expertise and support. Its broad inventory is available for immediate shipment, fulfilling unplanned demand for engineers and technical buyers. Infinite is a Warburg Pincus portfolio company.

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SCHURTER launches a new very compact filter series with the 5121-appliance inlet filter. An IEC C14 inlet is surrounded by a closed metal housing and thus effectively shields the mains input. The new filter series is available as a standard or medical...

ELE Times - Tue, 08/22/2023 - 13:34

The mains input is often a critical opening in the housing. Interference via the power cables and interference radiated through the opening gets into, or out of the housing. The new 5121 appliance inlet filter series offers a very compact solution to prevent interference.


The new filter family is especially suitable for applications with very small installation depths that require high-frequency filtering of the mains input at the same time. The 5121 appliance inlet filter reliably shields high-frequency interference conducted through cables or radiated thanks to a completely closed metal shield and capacitors. Interference in the lower frequency range can be reliably attenuated with additional capacitors and chokes on the PCB. Especially the interferences in the low frequency range < 10 MHz are mainly conducted through the cables, which means that the filter components do not necessarily have to be located at the mains input and can simply be placed on the printed circuit board. SCHURTER offers a wide range of current-compensated and linear chokes for this purpose.

Typical applications are medical, laboratory, audio- and video equipment and industrial systems.

Multiple mounting versions

 The new filter series is available in three mounting versions: Screw mounting from the front side with plastic flange, screw mounting from the front or rear side with metal flange and snap-in mounting from the front side. All variants guarantee optimal electrical contact of the mounting panel thanks to the wide metal flange. The closed filter housing acts as optimal shielding of the mains input.


The SCHURTER Group is a globally successful Swiss technology business. With our components ensuring the clean and safe supply of power, input systems for ease of use and sophisticated overall solutions, we impress our customers with agility and excellent product and service quality. We focus on industrial equipment, medical equipment, automotive, avionics and space, data and communication and energy.

The post SCHURTER launches a new very compact filter series with the 5121-appliance inlet filter. An IEC C14 inlet is surrounded by a closed metal housing and thus effectively shields the mains input. The new filter series is available as a standard or medical technology version for a rated current up to 10 A / 15 A with wire connections. appeared first on ELE Times.

Edge and corner cases: AI’s conceptual simplifications and potential complications

EDN Network - Mon, 08/21/2023 - 21:27

Whether or not (and if so, how) to account for rarely encountered implementation variables and combinations in hardware and/or software development projects is a key (albeit often minimized, if not completely overlooked) “bread and butter” aspect of the engineering skill set. Wikipedia seemingly agrees; here’s a relevant excerpt from the entry for edge cases:

An edge case can be expected or unexpected. In engineering, the process of planning for and gracefully addressing edge cases can be a significant task, and yet this task may be overlooked or underestimated. Non-trivial edge cases can result in the failure of an object that is being engineered. They may not have been foreseen during the design phase, and they may not have been thought possible during normal use of the object. For this reason, attempts to formalize good engineering standards often include information about edge cases.

And here’s a particularly resonant bit from the entry for corner cases:

Corner cases form part of an engineer’s lexicon—especially an engineer involved in testing or debugging a complex system. Corner cases are often harder and more expensive to reproduce, test, and optimize because they require maximal configurations in multiple dimensions. They are frequently less-tested, given the belief that few product users will, in practice, exercise the product at multiple simultaneous maximum settings. Expert users of systems therefore routinely find corner case anomalies, and in many of these, errors.

I’ve always found case studies about such anomalies and errors fascinating, no matter that I’ve also found them maddening when I’m personally immersed in them! And apparently, one of my favorite comic artists concurs with my interest:

That said, I’ll start off with a bit-embarrassing-in-retrospect confession. Until now, as I was researching this piece, I’d historically used the terms boundary case, corner case and edge case interchangeably. Although Google search results reassure me that I’m not unique in this imprecision, the fact that there are multiple distinct Wikipedia entries for the various terms (along with the closely related flight envelope) has probably already tipped you off (those of you not already more enlightened than me, to be precise) that they aren’t the same thing.

Here’s a concise explanation of the difference between an edge case and a corner case:

Corner cases and edge cases are different things even though they are commonly referred to as the same thing. Let’s formally define both:

  • An edge case is an issue that occurs at an extreme (maximum or minimum) operating parameter.
  • A corner case is when multiple parameters are simultaneously at extreme levels, and the user is put at a corner of the configuration space.

And what about the term boundary case? My research suggests that it’s essentially interchangeable with edge case, which makes sense when you think about it…an edge defines a boundary between one thing and another, after all. Boundary case seems to more commonly find use in software engineering, where (again quoting from Wikipedia’s edge case entry):

In programming, an edge case typically involves input values that require special handling in an algorithm behind a computer program. As a measure for validating the behavior of computer programs in such cases, unit tests are usually created; they are testing boundary conditions of an algorithm, function or method. A series of edge cases around each “boundary” can be used to give reasonable coverage and confidence using the assumption that if it behaves correctly at the edges, it should behave everywhere else. For example, a function that divides two numbers might be tested using both very large and very small numbers. This assumes that if it works for both ends of the magnitude spectrum, it should work correctly in between.

Conversely, the edge case vernacular seemingly finds more common use with hardware engineers. Examples here, off the top of my tongue, include extremes in:

  • Operating temperature (including both ambient extremes and circuitry-generated heat, not to mention what happens when ventilation sources—i.e., fans and the like—fail)
  • Supply voltage and current
  • Electromagnetic interference, both self-created and ambient
  • Humidity, more blatant moisture exposure, and other environmental variables
  • Etc…

And for the mechanical engineers in the audience, a whole host of other variables beg for attention, involving pressure, torque and other measures of stress, vibration, and the like.

Let’s now revisit software. Putting aside obvious code bugs, such as accesses to invalid areas of system memory and the like, edge cases often involve input, intermediary and output data that’s other than expected. The information may be larger or smaller than what was comprehended by the coder; it might also be formatted differently than anticipated. And then there are cases such as one that I personally grappled with a few years ago…

The original version of the website for the Embedded Vision Alliance (now the Edge AI and Vision Alliance), my “day job” employer, was initially implemented in a now-archaic version of Drupal. As time went on, I’d increasingly grapple with content provided by a Member company (often written in Microsoft Word or another word processor, or originally published on their website in HTML) which, after I republished it, would (I kid you not) cause our website’s hosting server to spike CPU utilization, sometimes even locking up completely. The culprit, it turned out, was the source content’s inclusion of unconventional character sets and extended symbols as well as other characters within a set…specifically, emoji, which wasn’t in common use at the time of that Drupal version’s development and therefore hadn’t been comprehended by the coders.

Speaking of the Alliance…let’s focus now on software for systems that, paraphrasing the organization’s lingo: “perceive, understand and appropriately respond to their surroundings”. Semi- and fully-autonomous vehicles are one obvious example here, albeit a somewhat extreme one. Since they both contain human beings capable of being harmed or killed by a collision or other malfunction and are capable of colliding with other human beings (among other things), edge and corner case comprehension and testing should appropriately be far more extensive than, say, with an autonomous consumer drone that worst-case might collide with a tree or the side of a building, damaging nothing but itself in the process.

Just the other day I had a conversation with a colleague who relayed to me the story of an experience he’d just had; in traversing a shadow-filled underpass that also involved a “dip” in the roadway, his car had briefly but notably auto-braked, incorrectly perceiving an object ahead of it. More generally, for example, he said that the vehicle will refuse to back out of the garage if the driveway contains more than a few inches of snow, because it discerns the accumulation as something that it might adversely collide with. Due to this particular car’s age, I pointed out to him, its advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) algorithms were undoubtedly developed in a traditional manner, where the software engineer challengingly had to:

  • Brainstorm all possible edge/boundary and corner cases, and then
  • Explicitly code algorithms that comprehended and implemented correct responses

Nowadays, of course, autonomous vehicle (and more general autonomous mobile robot, or AMR) software development is deep learning-based, done quite differently. Instead of precisely coding algorithms to comprehend all possible usage scenarios, you instead “train” the deep learning model with an extensive data set increasingly including not only still and video images, but also “sensor fusion” data from radar, lidar, ultrasound, human hearing-range audio (other vehicles’ horns, for example), and the outputs of other sensing modalities.

As with traditional algorithm development, and reiterating my statement that opened this piece, whether or not (and if so how) to account for rarely encountered implementation variables remains an application-dependent balancing act (to my earlier contrast between vehicles and consumer drones). Feeding the model training function with an excess of images, for example, will invariably lead to an unnecessarily bloated model, not only consuming disproportionate system resources but also executing subsequent inference operations more slowly than would otherwise be the case…particularly an issue when rapid response is critical!

That said, it’s not just rarely encountered big-picture operational scenarios that require thoughtful inclusion consideration in upfront training, it’s also the data within each of these scenarios. A bouncing ball, or for that matter a distracted toddler in motion, looks completely different in the middle of the day than under more muted dawn or dusk lighting conditions (further complicated by rain, snow, fog, and other environmental attenuators). Not to mention at different distances from, and at broader varying orientations relative, to a viewing camera.

If you don’t have real-life images to cover all these scenarios—say, a human being directly facing a camera as well as oriented sideways, with his or her back to the camera lens and image sensor, in various sizes (both absolute and distance-determined), with various skin tones, and wearing various outfits—what do you do? Until recently, you relied on synthetic image generation to append the training data set, using tools not unlike those that video game developers harness. Not coincidentally, check out this presentation on synthetic data creation and training inclusion by Unity Technologies (a leading game engine developer) from the 2022 Embedded Vision Summit, a preview version of which I’ve embedded below:

Nowadays, however, generative AI is becoming increasingly powerful (as I noted in my 2023 forecast piece from last fall) and correspondingly is also becoming an increasingly tempting option for doing synthetic data generation. While sometimes the images it creates are fanciful:

other times its output is uncannily realistic:

And, of course, generative AI can find use not only in creating still images and video sequences but also sound clips and other data types. So why bother capturing (or at least collecting) a bunch of real-life data, or firing up your computer and tediously using audio, graphics and/or other tools to craft your own synthetic content for model training purposes? Why not instead just say “Market Street, San Francisco, CA, on a rare sunny day, including a trolley car” and have your preferred generative AI tool automatically synthesize exactly what you want?

The answer, it seems from recently published research, is that you should resist the temptation to do so, because it ends up being a really bad idea in how it affects the resultant quality of the trained model. As noted, for example, in VentureBeat’s coverage of the topic, aptly titled “The AI Feedback Loop: Researchers Warn of ‘Model Collapse’ as AI Trains on AI-generated Content”:

The data used to train the large language models (LLMs) and other transformer models underpinning products such as ChatGPT, Stable Diffusion and Midjourney comes initially from human sources — books, articles, photographs and so on — that were created without the help of artificial intelligence. Now, as more people use AI to produce and publish content, an obvious question arises: What happens as AI-generated content proliferates around the internet, and AI models begin to train on it, instead of on primarily human-generated content? A group of researchers from the UK and Canada have looked into this very problem and recently published a paper on their work in the open access journal arXiv. What they found is worrisome for current generative AI technology and its future: “We find that use of model-generated content in training causes irreversible defects in the resulting models.”

I’ll explain what I think may be going on by means of analogy to traditional computer vision. Images intended for human viewing purposes are often quite different than those optimized for computer vision analysis. In the former case, they’re intended to be perceived as pleasing to the human visual system, tailored for our green-dominant color perception scheme, for example, as well as to smooth out subjects’ skin blemishes, enhance detail in both dark and light areas of the image, etc. Conversely, images ideal for computer vision analysis have artificially enhanced edges (boundaries?), for example, that aid in differentiating one object in a scene from another…but at the same time can be perceived as undesirable to the human eye.

Analogously, what we perceive in a generative AI-synthesized “artificial” image and what a trained deep learning model might draw attention to might be very different. Minute variances between a real-life image of an automobile and a synthesized one might not be noticed by us—we might even prefer the artificial representation—but will only confuse a deep learning inference operation guided by the prior flawed model training process. And confusion leads to unintended results, including an increasingly documented phenomenon called hallucination:

In the field of artificial intelligence (AI), a hallucination or artificial hallucination (also called confabulation or delusion) is a confident response by an AI that does not seem to be justified by its training data…Such phenomena are termed “hallucinations”, in loose analogy with the phenomenon of hallucination in human psychology. However, one key difference is that human hallucination is usually associated with false percepts, but an AI hallucination is associated with the category of unjustified responses or beliefs.

This writeup was intended to, and has hopefully succeeded in, providing you with plenty of “food for thought” as well as motivation for providing myself and your fellow readers with feedback. To wit, some questions for your consideration, to whet your appetite:

  • What examples from your past, present, and forecasted future product development experiences exist regarding corner, edge or whatever your favorite cases lingo is?
  • How do you know when to worry, or not, about accounting for a particular potential corner or edge case in your hardware and/or software design, what criteria guides that decision, and how does the outcome of your thought process vary over time, accumulated experience, situation specifics and other variables?
  • If you’re doing a deep learning-based implementation and you’re not confident that your existing model training data set is sufficiently comprehensive, how do you augment it? Conversely, if your training data set’s size and scope are overkill, how do you cull it?
  • Do you think that generative AI will end up being a boon, a bane, or some combination of the two in this regard?

I look forward to your thoughts in the comments!

Brian Dipert is the Editor-in-Chief of the Edge AI and Vision Alliance, and a Senior Analyst at BDTI and Editor-in-Chief of InsideDSP, the company’s online newsletter.

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A sneak peek at next-generation ultrasound imaging

EDN Network - Mon, 08/21/2023 - 11:59

The use of sound waves for non-invasively visualizing a fetus in the womb, via ultrasound imaging, is widely recognized. By emitting high-frequency sound waves into the body and converting their echo into electrical signals, real-time images can be constructed. Apart from medical imaging, these sound waves find application in biometric identification and gesture recognition in automotive and virtual reality (VR) applications and various other fields.

Currently, ultrasound transducers are commonly produced using silicon semiconductor facilities. For high-resolution medical imaging with large-area coverage, large sensors are required, which is challenging for silicon-based sensors because of their high cost per mm2.

PMUT arrays for large-area imaging

In 2021, imec introduced flat panel display (FPD)-compatible piezoelectric micromachined ultrasound transducer (PMUT) arrays on glass. As a result of moving from wafer-based to FPD-compatible processes, cost-effective upscaling of ultrasound sensors was made possible.

More specifically, due to its compatibility with existing thin-film transistor backplanes and because this transducer technology is not hampered by wafer-size restrictions, large-area processing capabilities with PMUT arrays were made possible. However, the performance of the polymeric piezoelectric material was not yet sufficient for high-quality medical imaging.

Now, imec has demonstrated a second-generation PMUT array with another piezoelectrical material, AlScN. With the earlier implementation of a glass substrate instead of a crystalline silicon one, area restrictions were lifted. Additionally, this next-generation PMUT array exhibited 10 times the acoustic pressure compared to the previous generation.

Image acquisition up to 10 cm distance is shown below with pressures above 7 kPa in water, making it suitable for high-performing ultrasound imaging (Figure 1).

Figure 1 The second-generation PMUT array has been built with piezoelectrical material AlScN. Source: imec

The array, featuring an AlScN piezoelectric layer, achieves impressive image acquisition and beam steering up to 10 cm in water. This advancement paves the way for complex ultrasound applications on curved surfaces, revolutionizing medical imaging and monitoring.

Prospects for flexible ultrasound imaging

Next steps include maturing the technology and tuning the device to specific frequencies. In doing so, this technology will enable large ultrasound arrays on for instance curved surfaces, such as sensors for the human body or car dashboards, facilitating integration of ultrasound functions on large non-planar surfaces. As a result, exciting opportunities for innovative ultrasound applications will emerge.

Figure 2 Schematic cross-sections of a PMUT process flow include (a) backplane substrate with optional TFT and/or flexible layer; (b) front-plane substrate with metal-insulator metal stack; (c) bonding of front-plane to back-plane and removal of front-plane substrate; and (d) metal via interconnect for electrical connection between front- and back-plane. Source: imec

In collaboration with Pulsify Medical, imec has already created a proof-of-concept rigid medical patch for cardiac monitoring, paving the way for non-invasive and longitudinal monitoring outside hospitals, without the need for a physician. As a result, imec’s collaboration with Pulsify Medical brings non-invasive, physician-free cardiac monitoring a step closer to reality.

Figure 3 In the diagram outlining characteristics of PMUT elements, the inset shows a microscopy image of the fabricated PMUT and a corresponding cross-section across the cavity. Source: imec

As part of the EU-funded project ‘Listen2Future’, further development of a flexible ultrasound patch is ongoing. Listen2future is an EU-funded project addressing and benchmarking piezoelectric acoustic transducers with 27 partners across seven countries, coordinated by Infineon Technology Austria AG.

The findings are described in ‘A flat-panel-display compatible ultrasound platform’, which was presented at The Society for Information Display’s DisplayWeek 2023.

Erwin Hijzen is director of the MEMS Ultrasound program at imec.

Epimitheas Georgitzikis is R&D project leader of ‘Listen2Future’ project at imec.

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Eico 488

Reddit:Electronics - Mon, 08/21/2023 - 04:49
Eico 488

Picked up this mess today along with a couple of eico scopes. I wouldn't call it the best use of $20, but I wasted more on less. Lol

submitted by /u/m_user_name
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First PCB I have designed!

Reddit:Electronics - Sat, 08/19/2023 - 23:36
First PCB I have designed!

Very trivial and far from perfect, but I recently designed my first PCB and got it manufactured which is something I have wanted to do for awhile. It totally works and I am super happy with it! It is made to mimic a matrix keyboard so I can control a device with a raspberry pi instead of manually typing. Can’t wait to finish the project!

submitted by /u/Skeegan4life
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1946 capacitor looks so much like a bomb it's scary. Dual 40uf 400v common negative, rectifier filter out of my Sparton 5048.

Reddit:Electronics - Sat, 08/19/2023 - 19:38
1946 capacitor looks so much like a bomb it's scary. Dual 40uf 400v common negative, rectifier filter out of my Sparton 5048.

Idk how many of you remember my other post about my Sparton 5048 I plan to restore. I'm not planning on restoring it any time soon but it is definitely a future project. Thinking of just gutting the whole thing and rebuilding it all except for the tubes, transformers and speaker since likely all those caps and resistors are done. 77 years old lol. This capacitor here is clearly leaked everywhere and is fricked and may be the main reason for the super loud hum, as well as the automatic volume control system it has. Many of you didn't seem to realize how loud this hum is. I'm not talking about a slight "mmmm" no, i mean ear-killing AAAAAAAAAAAA coming from it. It's screaming 60hz like hell. I know I shouldn't turn it on or else I'll risk breaking other good parts like the tubes or the speaker.

submitted by /u/XonMicro
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Weekly discussion, complaint, and rant thread

Reddit:Electronics - Sat, 08/19/2023 - 18:00

Open to anything, including discussions, complaints, and rants.

Sub rules do not apply, so don't bother reporting incivility, off-topic, or spam.

Reddit-wide rules do apply.

To see the newest posts, sort the comments by "new" (instead of "best" or "top").

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Top 10 Electric Scooter Manufacturers in the USA

ELE Times - Sat, 08/19/2023 - 15:14

The most successful business endeavour in this decade has been the emergence of e-scooter-sharing companies. However, it’s important to note that the global number of e-scooter-sharing startups remains under 150. Wondering about the reasons behind this? The answer is that establishing an e-scooter-sharing business requires significant resources.

For such a startup to thrive, several key tasks must be completed. These include obtaining permits, creating a user-friendly mobile app, assembling a team of skilled engineers, and acquiring a fleet of e-scooters. The real challenge, however, is achieving all of these objectives while staying within a predetermined budget.

In this blog post, we are excited to reveal a variety of top e-scooter manufacturers and their corresponding products, all conveniently available for purchase in the USA. To make your exploration easier, we have thoughtfully categorized these options based on the price range of each e-scooter model.

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1. Hover-1 Eagle

Choosing the Hover-1 Eagle stands out as the better choice, presenting a broader range of features when compared to the Razor E90. Remarkable improvements consist of an LCD display, a built-in suspension system, and 6.5” wheels on both the front and rear, all powered by a 300W motor. It’s worth highlighting that the Hover-1 Eagle additionally showcases IPX4 water resistance for durability and has the capacity to support a maximum weight of 264 lbs.

2. Mercane Widewheel Pro – 2020

The Mercane Widewheel Pro effortlessly masters steep 30% inclines, courtesy of its dynamic dual motors. Boasting a maximum speed of 26 mph and an impressive range exceeding 22 miles, this e-scooter truly excels in its performance. The ultra-wide airless tires, coupled with both front and rear suspension, greatly enhance the overall riding experience.

The frame of the 2020 Mercane Widewheel Pro has been carefully redesigned to enhance stability and durability. An intelligent display provides essential information such as speed, total mileage, and voltage. Additionally, this e-scooter comes equipped with features like cruise control, front and rear lights, as well as efficient disk brakes, adding both functionality and safety to the ride.

3. ElectroHeads

In 2020, Electroheads set forth its mission with a clear aim: to spread the unique joy of electric propulsion. Their steadfast objective, then and now, centres on accelerating the worldwide adoption of e-mobility. This involves inspiring individuals to shift from traditional fossil fuel-powered transportation choices to embrace electric cars, e-bikes, and electric scooters.

4. Micro Merlin

Available for $799, the Micro Merlin e-scooter substantiates its price through its compelling attributes. Fueled by a sturdy 280 Wh battery, riders can travel distances of up to 15 miles while attaining a top speed of 18 mph. The incorporation of dual front and rear suspension, along with a dedicated ‘comfort’ ride mode, guarantees an exceptionally smooth expedition.

The Micro Merlin e-scooter features tires impervious to punctures, and its braking system encompasses both a regenerative front wheel brake and a rear wheel foot brake. A remarkable feature of the Micro Merlin e-scooter is the inclusion of cruise control, which adds an extra layer of convenience to the riding experience.

5. Swagtron-5

Equipped with a sturdy 250W motor, the Swagtron-5 empowers riders to journey up to 11 miles on a single charge. The Swagtron-5’s battery can be swiftly charged in just 3.5 hours and boasts an impressive maximum weight capacity of 320 lbs.

A prominent attribute that adds to the Swagtron-5’s acclaim within the e-scooter market is its rear tire, known for its low-maintenance characteristics. The innovative airless-honeycomb design of the rear tire guarantees a comfortable and seamless ride, even when traversing uneven surfaces.

6. Razor E90

One of the most economical choices in the market for e-scooters can be acquired for just $140. The Razor E90 showcases a maximum speed of 10 mph and has the capacity to operate for approximately 80 minutes on a single charge. Its sturdy steel frame is capable of easily accommodating a maximum weight of 120 lbs.

7. Mi e-scooter pro

With an approximate price tag of $700, the Mi e-scooter pro ushers in a range of innovative features. Riders can effortlessly switch between ECO mode, standard mode, and Sport mode, providing versatile riding experiences. The multi-functional display presents real-time information, encompassing the remaining battery capacity and current speed. Equipped with a reliable 474 Wh battery, this e-scooter achieves an impressive travel range of up to 45 km on a single charge. Importantly, the Mi e-scooter Pro excels in energy regeneration.

Enhanced by an ultra-bright headlight, a red tail light, a ventilated rear 120mm disc brake, and a front E-ABS regenerative anti-lock braking system, the Mi e-scooter pro places a strong emphasis on rider safety and visibility.

8. Glion Dolly

Driven by a robust 36v 7.8 Ah battery in conjunction with a 250-watt brushless hub motor, it harnesses impressive power. Reaching a top speed of 15 mph, it has the capability to cover distances of up to 15 miles on a single full charge. The use of 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminium in its fabrication guarantees outstanding durability.

9. Segway-Ninebot

Renowned for producing high-quality merchandise, Segway-Ninebot stands out as a prominent name in the realm of e-scooters. Their range of products encompasses diverse models tailored for specific purposes, spanning from daily commuting to leisure activities and even venturing into off-road terrains. Segway-Ninebot’s e-scooters come equipped with a plethora of advanced features, including LED lighting, Bluetooth connectivity, and the added convenience of remote control functionality. Going beyond just e-scooters, Segway-Ninebot extends its expertise to a variety of personal transportation devices, ranging from hoverboards to e-bikes. The company’s distinctive feature lies in its steadfast commitment to pioneering innovation and giving top priority to user safety.

10. Boosted Rev

With a price tag of $1599, the Boosted Rev e-scooter comes fitted with dual 750 Watts motors. Travelling on the Boosted Rev can achieve speeds reaching 24 mph and traverse distances of around 22 miles. The e-scooter is equipped with both regenerative electric and mechanical disc brakes, which augment the efficiency of braking. Prominent attributes include three distinct ride modes, along with front and rear lights, all accompanied by the inclusion of pneumatic tires.

The post Top 10 Electric Scooter Manufacturers in the USA appeared first on ELE Times.

Vishay Intertechnology Releases Industry-First Standard Rectifier and TVS Two-in-One Solution

ELE Times - Sat, 08/19/2023 - 13:51

Space-Saving Device Combines 3 A, 600 V Standard Rectifier and 200 W TRANSZORB® TVS in Compact FlatPAK 5 x 6 Package

Vishay Intertechnology, Inc. (NYSE: VSH) today introduced a new surface-mount solution for automotive applications that is the industry’s first standard rectifier and transient voltage suppressor (TVS) two-in-one device. Featuring an oxide planar chip junction design and a common cathode circuit configuration, the Vishay General Semiconductor R3T2FPHM3 combines a 3 A, 600 V standard rectifier with a 200 W TRANSZORB® TVS in the compact FlatPAK 5 x 6 package.

With a wide temperature range from -55 °C to +175 °C, the device released today is suitable for high reliability automotive applications, including secondary protection for sensor units, distributed airbag modules, and low power DC/DC converters in power distribution systems. By combining two different technologies in a single package, the dual-chip solution saves PCB space, simplifies layouts, and lowers overall costs in these applications. When paired in series with a standard TVS, the R3T2FPHM3 offers designers a complete > 24 V solution with a low clamping ratio.

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The two-in-one device’s rectifier features a low forward voltage drop of 0.86 V to reduce power losses and improve efficiency, while its TVS offers a breakdown voltage of 27 V. The R3T2FPHM3 provides ESD capability in compliance with IEC 61000-4-2, air discharge and contact mode; it offers a MSL moisture sensitivity level of 1, per J-STD-020, LF maximum peak of 260 °C; and its molding compound features a UL 94 V-0 flammability rating. RoHS-compliant and halogen-free, the device is available in an AEC-Q101 qualified version.

Samples and production quantities of the R3T2FPHM3 are available now, with lead times of 12 weeks.

About Vishay

Vishay manufactures one of the world’s largest portfolios of discrete semiconductors and passive electronic components that are essential to innovative designs in the automotive, industrial, computing, consumer, telecommunications, military, aerospace, and medical markets. Serving customers worldwide, Vishay is The DNA of tech.® Vishay Intertechnology, Inc. is a Fortune 1,000 Company listed on the NYSE (VSH). More on Vishay at www.Vishay.com.

The post Vishay Intertechnology Releases Industry-First Standard Rectifier and TVS Two-in-One Solution appeared first on ELE Times.

Global Electronic Manufacturing Services Market Set to Reach $859.96 Billion by 2033 – Future Market Insights

ELE Times - Sat, 08/19/2023 - 13:23

The global “Electronic Manufacturing Services (EMS) market” is poised for substantial growth, fueled by the escalating demand and robust sales of consumer electronics. According to the latest market projections, the Electronic Manufacturing Services market is anticipated to reach a valuation of US$ 541.5 billion by the end of 2023.

This market is forecasted to experience a steady Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4.7% during the period 2023-2033, ultimately soaring to a total value of approximately US$ 859.9 Billion by 2033.

Electronic Manufacturing Services has received a warm welcome in a variety of industries since its introduction, owing to its diverse applications in areas such as control framework for radar observation, mission control PC in airplanes and satellites, and so on.

Electronic Manufacturing Services Market: Drivers and Challenges

An increased demand and sales of electronics, especially consumer electronics, is witnessed globally which is further expected to rise in the forecast period. This demand correspondingly increases the adoption and implementation of Electronic Manufacturing Services, which as a result, drives the global Electronics Manufacturing Services market.

In addition to this, the implementation and utilization of Electronic Manufacturing Services offer flexibility aligned with market demand, provides a continuous supply of services, mitigates the risk, and reduce the overall operational cost of a company. These factors are expected to; furthermore, drive the growth of the Electronic Manufacturing Services market.

The decline in the adoption of Personal Computers (desktops, notebooks, etc.) is one of the major factors challenging the growth of the Electronic Manufacturing Services market.

Competition Analysis – Regional Trends:

The Electronic Manufacturing Services landscape is marked by intense competition on a global scale. Leading players in regions such as North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America are vying for market dominance. Asia-Pacific, in particular, stands out as a frontrunner in the market, owing to its robust manufacturing infrastructure, skilled labor force, and favorable regulatory environment. North America and Europe, while mature markets, continue to play a significant role in shaping industry trends through technological advancements and innovations.

  • In May 2022- Ohio. Hon Hai Technology Group (“Foxconn”), signed a contract with Lordstown Motors Corp. (“Lordstown Motors” or “LMC”) for a manufacturing agreement and a joint venture agreement for product development.
  • In August 2021, Toronto-based contract electronics manufacturer Celestica Inc. marked the grand opening of its AbelConn Electronics facility in Maple Grove, Minn, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Celestica. The facility provides rapid prototyping, volume manufacturing, and engineering support for the defense and aerospace industries.
  • In August 2022, Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn is looking at making electric vehicles in India, part of a larger diversification plan to expand its Asian manufacturing supply chain beyond China, according to people aware of developments at the contract phone maker for Apple.

The post Global Electronic Manufacturing Services Market Set to Reach $859.96 Billion by 2033 – Future Market Insights appeared first on ELE Times.


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