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CES 2016 – in case you missed it

As most “tech watchers” are no doubt aware, early January always means the Consumer Electronics Show, held each year in Las Vegas. Critical Link doesn’t tend to get involved on the consumer-side, but I’m still enough of a tech watcher, and tech device/tech toy fan, that I enjoy reading up on what happens at CES. Plus there’s always core technology there that’s of interest.

This year, one of the sources I relied on for CES news was William Wong, who writes over on Electronic Design. This post is a quick summary of what he had to say about the show.

One thing he found of interest is Cima NanoTech’s SANTE technology. SANTE stands for “self-assembling nanoparticle technology”), and is a “conductive coating that forms a random mesh-like network.” I found this intriguing enough that I went over to the company’s site to read about it. SANTE technology is designed “for applications such as large projected capacitive touch screens, transparent antennas, transparent heaters and EMI shielding.”

As Wong reports:

“Capacitive touch is faster and easily handles multitouch supporting dozens of simultaneous contact points, compared to one or two for infrared touchscreens currently used for large displays. The nano particles wind up in a random pattern eliminating the Moire effect that is often seen on more regular touch systems.”(Source: Electronic Design)

The displays that it will support will be able to handle displays as large as 85 inches – and can scale beyond that. Wow! This is pretty cool stuff.

Wong also took a look at Marvell’s 1000Baset-T1 Ethernet for cars, which is smaller and cheaper than regular Ethernet on CAT5 or CAT6. Remember when a T1 line was a big deal, connecting an entire company to the Internet? Now, in the near term, there may be one in your car?

The DragonFly 2020 from Nano Dimensions is a 3D PCB printer.

“The DragonFly uses an additive approach that builds up each layer. The dielectric ink contains a collection of two tiny particles that contain the two encapsulated parts of an epoxy. The printer deposits the ink, breaks the encapsulation, and allows the epoxy to harden. This forms the circuit board, while the silver ink provides the conductive surfaces and via’s. It does not need holes because of the way the way the PCB is created.” (Source: Electronic Design)

D3 printing is likely the future of PCB prototyping and of highly custom solutions. As Wong notes, there are:

“…many challenges to overcome because the characteristics of the silver ink are different from copper that would be used in conventional PCB production. Having the same characteristics is important because the prototype needs to replicate the final product. One way this is done is by increasing the vertical (Z) height when using the silver ink.”

On the more consumer-oriented end of things, Wong observed that there was an awful lot of floor space dedicated to virtual reality, augmented reality, and drones. (He estimated that there were upwards of 1,000 different drones on display at the show, from micro-drones on up to a drone, which looks like a little helicopter) that can actually carry a person. Although I can see where in search and rescue situations, this sort of drone would be valuable, it’s still a scary thought. Lots of things that can go wrong here.) Wong also saw a lot of hoverboards, some telepresence robots, and some hybrid fuel cells, one of which caught his interest as it uses salt water and metallic magnesium.

Kind of makes me wish I’d been there. Maybe next year. It would be a hectic but fun way to usher in 2017.