Hawkshead Designs' Blog
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Why E- Recycling Is Important
E-waste is an ever expanding blight on the planet. The amazing array of innovative technologies we depend on for our day-to-day are taking a serious toll on the environment, through the extraction of rare metals and other resources, compounded by the excessive dumping of anything deemed broken or obsolete. The dumps are usually vast, toxic wastelands, with more e-waste arriving each and every day.
1972 was a spectacular year, for many reasons, not just because my beloved Tottenham Hotspur won the first ever UEFA Cup final. No. 1972 was the year video game pioneer title Pong was released by Atari, gracing our screens with an actual game to played against an actual computer, right in your living room. Gaming has taken unfathomable leaps since that time, and we rest upon the precipice of a world immersed in virtual reality environments.
Dangers of Positive Disclosure
At the end of last year, we took a quick look at hacking bounties. These are bounties collected by so-called “white-hat” hackers, those Internet users or security researchers who discover critical flaws in system infrastructure that could allow more nefarious parties access to sensitive information. For the most part their efforts are applauded, and in some cases, financially rewarded for making a disclosure to the company rather than those who would use the information to cause damage.
Are You Listening, Facebook?
Internet privacy is a debate that just doesn’t stop. Rightly so, as the vast majority of the world is now directly involved in it. Social media is often directly involved in the debate. Our willingness to upload and share our personal information has curated the perfect storm for government entities to track us, monitor us, and run surveillance programs.
Old Tech Powering Modern Life
When Windows 10 was released last year, a massive number of users immediately jumped ship, upgrading from Windows 7, 8, and 8.1. Windows 10 was largely hailed as a success and the vast majority of people had an excellent upgrade experience.
Alternative Power Funding
The world appears to be waking to the dangers of continually pulling fossil fuels out of the ground and burning them for energy. It has been apparent to billions for years that this practice can no longer continue, yet those voices are almost helpless against the powerhouses of the global energy industry.
The Accidental Battery
Experiments that go wrong usually result in a negative outcome. This might vary from extremely bad – think explosions, loud booming – to merely having to reset your instruments. Of course, to gauge the success of an experiment, measurement is key. Observing and detailing which variables have changed usually dictates the overall level of comprehension.
SmartThings Not So Smart
Last year we took a look at the potential dangers concerning massive amounts of IoT Ready devices coming online. While the unthinkable hasn’t happened – our power stations are still running, I think (though they do seem to find significant amounts of malware at these critical facilities) – the numbers of regular users purchasing and installing IoT devices in their homes has risen significantly.
Crucial Product Design Considerations
Are you a budding product designer? Are you an established product designer? Either way, every successful product designer must take these three vital components into consideration before embarking on a new project.
Electronic Brain Hacking
Would you willing strap electrodes to your head? Would you willingly let a friend or loved one flip the power switch to feed an electrical current through your brain? And would you let an amateur neuroscientist take charge of your “treatment”?
Amateur brain hacking is on the rise. With the electrical parts available online for as little as $100, the home brain hacking community is live, and experience a surge in interest, with some shocking results.
Self Repairing Electronics
When we talk about nanoparticles, the mind can easily drift into semi-plausible fantastical ideas of super self repairing medicinal anitbodies, surfing through our bodies to fight the good fight against the evil, poisonous bad guys. Nanomedicines, injected by nano-needles combat rare and exotic illnesses from the future, sent to destroy specific types of cells, but our bodies fight back and repair themselves.
And we don’t even notice these worlds colliding as the scale is so...nanoscopic.
Just as massive advances are consistently achieved in medicines, nano-scale electronics are also on the rise, also with an eye on the supreme prize of self-repairing electronics. They could be edging ever closer.
Last month several corners of the Internet went somewhat crazy. This isn’t usually worth reporting on its own; Internet corners are well known for their usually unprovoked and unfounded craziness. An image of a gentleman carrying a mobile payment terminal had surfaced on various social media outlets, prompting countless individuals to declare theft via contactless payment had arrived and as such, we are all absolutely doomed. DOOMED!
Luckily, things aren’t that bleak, and we’ll quickly explain why – but also alert you to a vastly more tangible potential issue.
Sustainability and efficiency are two words we often see nestled together, even throughout this blog. There is a global understanding that we need to focus our energies on creating new stepping stones for the electronics industry, and moving into a future where renewables, sustainability, ecology, and efficiency will be continually under scrutiny, it pays to start thinking and acting before too long.
Start-up Considerations Returned
Last month we talked about a number of important things to consider before rushing off to begin a startup following your big idea moment. We’ve already covered The Idea and The Review, Proof of Concept, Functional Protyping, and Designing for Manufacturing. This time, we’re going to look at the Supply Chain, Certifications, more Manufacturing, and Further Testing. Let’s go!
UK Determined To Introduce Snooper's Charter
Encryption has understandably been hogging the airways for the past month or so. The US-based argument between the FBI and Apple has rumbled on, capturing the imagination of those individuals sitting on either side of the fence. The US case holds great importance for the future of encryption, and how we expect our government agencies to act with respect to our personal and private data.
Cryptography Pioneers Win Turing Award
Two of the best known cryptography pioneers have won this year’s Turing Award. The Turing Award, widely considered the Nobel Prize of the computing world, delivers winners Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman massive international recognition for their work on public encryption, as well as an amazing $1 million prize fund to be shared between the two.
New Opportunities for E-Waste Recyclers
2015 was a mixed year for many e-waste recyclers. In a global economy prone to fluctuations relating to the price of oil and precious metals, e-waste businesses reported stagnation in global markets. Despite the volume of e-waste continually rising, businesses are not seeing any increase in their profits, in turn hampering their ability to grow and process more e-waste. A vicious cycle that could see some companies downsizing, and others close altogether.
One Wheel On My Wagon
We frequently encounter products delegated the next big thing, their industry equally proclaiming a market-disrupting product is en-route. Often, we’re let down. It isn’t always the product itself to blame; everyone boards the hype-train as soon as it pulls into station, and it isn’t always sunshine and roses when the steam runs dry.
So I’m sceptical of giving this product to much hype – but it looks like good fun, and the parent company has just secured a nice amount of funding to continue development.
Start-ups are everywhere, covering every continent, powering fantastical ideas, merging services and ideas into goodness-knows-what. But not every idea makes it to market. Not every start-up booms, many do not make to their first year – let alone the first iteration of their amazing, world-changing, market-disrupting product.
What you do following the ‘Eureka’ moment can be the difference between boom and bust.
Are E-Textiles About To Boom?
Wearable technologies are increasingly common, though largely take the form of wristbands, watches, and other easy-to-fit, easy-to-access consumer products. A cursory glance at several “top wearables of 2015” style articles shows me most of these products will be found on the user’s wrist, allowing designers to approach wearables as a fashion item.
To continue reaching the masses, wearables must remain relevant, practical, and most of all, actually useful. Electronic product designers are increasingly working alongside clothing designers to create perfect combinations of electronics and textiles to form the next generation of popularised wearable technology.
IPv6 Celebrates 20th Birthday
Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) has turned the magnificent age of 20! And as of its 20th birthday has accumulated a steady 9.98% deployment throughout the world, with this number increasing all the time, from just 0.4% adoption in 2011.
The Internet Protocol Version dictates the number of IP addresses available for the Internet to grow into. As of 24th September 2015, North America exhausted its reserved allocation of addresses, forcing all new address to adopt the IPv6 protocol. This doesn’t mean the old IPv4 address will disappear, but a new protocol was required to give the Internet room to grow at its accustomed rate.
Despite IPv6 being around for two decades, the need to switch hasn’t been truly felt until now.
Biological Computer Chips
The long held futurist’s dream of a computer chip melding biological and man-made machinery together is almost upon us. Researchers and developers working out of Columbia Engineering have announced a successful harnessing of a chemical energy-producing biological process to power a solid-state CMOS integrated circuit.
Do You Need A Kickstarter?
Or could your project find its own feet in another world, before it reaches the hustle-bustle of crowdfunding? Kickstarter is almost unrivalled in its potential to send a project viral – but is that the environment that is best for your product?
To Kickstart, Or Kick-On?
Kickstarter has undoubtedly created a wealth of opportunities for those inventors and creators to reach their goals. A marketplace designed to broaden the appeal of basic investment opportunities, it allows those with a new product to reach their core users, giving them an opportunity not only to invest, but also partly shape the final product.
Kickstarter was originally developed as a much needed platform for artists and other creative media projects that may have otherwise struggled to gain recognition or funding to continue. It has proved successful in this account. As the platform grew, more creative electronic projects appeared, with varying success.
Is Kickstarter the right move for your electronics project? Or are there other options you could consider?
IoT In Product Design
Happy New Year!
Electronic product design can be a minefield at the testing phase. Every product goes through a rigorous program of testing, designed to stress the design, the internal workings and the usability of the product. The majority of issues can be uncovered during this process, especially those manageable on site. However, there are issues that only arise down the line, those irksome issues that only rear their ugly heads once the device is in the hands of the consumer – and well away from the testing environment.
Microsoft and Autodesk Team Up
Earlier this year we saw the awesome power of holograms brought to our eyes in the form of the Microsoft HoloLens. At the time of release the functionality of the HoloLens was limited, though the initial set of promotional videos illustrated the potential of the HoloLens quite nicely. We saw intrepid children (and adults!) delving into gaming sensation Minecraft, and another featuring a holographic electrician guiding the user through some home maintenance.
Li-Fi Really Is Superfast
We have Superfast broadband installed at the office and I have superfast broadband installed at home. The BT Fibre connection is meant to clock in between 25-50Mbps. Instead, I regularly receive speeds of 8-12Mbps, which is what I was used to on my aging ADSL2 setup. Now, this is in part due to the wireless receiver attached to my computer which I will be changing in the coming weeks, but the speed variance is frustrating to say the least.
It has been a remarkable week for renewable energy development throughout the world. Despite the UK's continued attacks on the renewables sector, the entire African continent has come together to pledge around $20bn to develop at least 10 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2020. This comes on the back of the earlier announcement of the formation of a high-profile, tech figure-led renewables organisation, headed up by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, amongst others. I mean, if you want guys with financial resources, you really cannot look much further.
Let’s take a quick look at what both of these respective announcements mean for the wider world.
The Gigafactory sounds like the DeLorean production line. But instead of the home of the DMC-12, it is in fact the first in a line of Tesla lithium-ion battery factories, turning out thousands of batteries for all things Tesla.
As we edge toward a battery powered transport network, Elon Musk, Tesla Motors CEO, has recognised the very real need to boost production of the physical batteries, whilst equally investing in the future of battery powered transportation.