Electronica 2010

13.11.2010 15:13

This was a busy week. First a trip to Vienna and then to München to visit Electronica 2010 fair. I spent a day there which is way too little time for anything more than a quick trip through all the halls and a chat or two. If it has anything to do with electronics it was probably on display there.

Entrance to Electronica 2010

First thing I found out is that nobody expects you to be there only to see pretty things first hand and find out about the latest developments in the field. As soon as you stop for a moment in front of a stand to have a closer look at something that looks interesting someone will run to you and start talking. Which is great, until the discussion inevitably turns into how many tens of thousands of components you're looking to buy or how many of those five-figure dollars oscilloscopes you need. Which in my case made for a kind of an awkward end of the discussion.

While everybody was trying to shove cheap plastic pens, cups and bags into your hands (practice which I successfully avoided) apparently nobody would give you anything useful, like a sample of their latest component that could be used for prototyping. How weird is that? On a related note the iPad currently appears to be the ultimate attention grabber. Every other company was offering a chance of winning one in exchange for spending a few minutes at their booth.

Oh, and I managed to fall prey to a couple of American hard-sell types from which I almost had to run away. You know, the type of guys that won't take no for an answer, even when you tell them you're not even remotely interested in what they're selling. Now I know how what a human equivalent of e-mail spam is.

From a more technical standpoint, I expected more from the Displays section of the fair. I've seen only one E-ink display and OLEDs were limited to applications like tiny MP3 players and such. Rather than on new display technologies the focus seemed to be on smart LCD panels that have very high-level interfaces and are simple to use (i.e. "draw line here" commands instead of accessing a framebuffer).

On the equipment side the trend of having Windows running on your oscilloscope continues. On one hand these things offer some really nice features like on-the-fly decoding of various digital protocols and very long time windows. On the other hand you (still) get pop-ups reminding you to update your anti-virus software. Not that nice, especially if it happens while you're demonstrating the scope in front of potential customers.

Finally, one thing worth seeing first hand were the few automatic PCB placement and testing machines on display. It's just amazing how fast and accurate those tiny robotic probes and manipulators are getting.

In conclusion Electronica 2010 was worth a visit although I've seen no terribly surprising things. It would probably also be worth staying a day longer to attend a talk or two. The only bad thing about it is that when you get back to reality you realize that most of the components and equipment you saw there are only available to people designing for production runs that go into millions of items.

Posted by Tomaž | Categories: Life

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