This a key driving force making wireless technology more usable, practical and feature rich. By the rate of miniaturisation over the last 45 years, a component on a chip measuring 10um (micrometres) in 1970 then would be just 10 nm (nanometres) now.
One of the consequences for electronic product design is that complex systems are now available on a single chip, allowing for more creative applications. Components of the same physical size now offer increased performance and a wider range of features. Due to this increased complexity, expert support is often required when developing new products, particularly where power consumption must be optimised (e.g. a small battery or scavenged-energy power supply).
The integration of as many systems as possible is a pervasive trend across most technology fronts today. With the ubiquitous use of the web, cloud-based systems and connected devices (also known as the ‘Internet of Things’) increasingly popular, it’s a trend that will continue for the foreseeable future.
As evidenced by the decrease in the cost of a DSSS modem over the past 40 years, technology gets significantly cheaper over time. It’s clear that further reductions in component, system and manufacturing costs will drive forward the implementation of new technologies.
Quick tip – Consider how the falling cost of key components could open up new possibilities in the near future and design solutions that take full advantage of these opportunities.
Smartphones are a perfect example of how many different functions can be brought together in one system. Users are more keen than ever to control different technologies from a single point that is convenient to them and easy to use. As such, you need to ensure that your wireless device or system communicates well with the popular native wireless standards employed in the growing mobile market.
More than that, wireless devices increasingly need to use a number of types of wireless communication within the same design e.g. WiFi as well as Bluetooth. This prolongs the useable life of the device as it can communicate with a variety of network types and settings, widening its market appeal.
Quick tip – Do your homework when selecting a wireless device, especially when choosing ones that include a number of communication standards. Ensure your needs are well matched by the features the standards offer.
Sending large amounts of data over a short range is becoming increasingly possible and, more importantly, economic as well. The wireless market is already seeing the emergence of high speed 60 GHz radio frequency devices capable of 10Gb/s data rates, which are ideal for short range, large data requirements.
Whilst systems using such frequencies were previously an expensive and not very widespread option, the device costs continue to drop. This has enabled wireless networks and devices to increase performance thresholds further. 5G cellular radio is driving the consumer use of these higher frequency bands.
Quick tip – Be clear about what data you need to communicate, how far and how frequently. This is the basis for deciding which technology provides the best solution. Have a big vision of how you want the technology to do and ask a wireless expert what solution will best meet your budget.
Battery density has increased threefold in the past 40 years and is showing continued steady improvement. This is fueled by battery technology advances in areas such as handheld devices and electric vehicles. While these advances are significant and should not be understated, it’s important to recognise that the rate of development is plateauing more than the advances in other areas such as miniaturisation.
Quick tip – Choose a battery with the greatest capacity within the physical size constraints of your design and then ensure your system uses the techniques contained in our resource ‘5 ways to maximise your battery life’.