A View from the Top: A Virtual Prototyping Blog


ESC Boston: BBQs, Headphones and Green Technology

After my post DAC hibernation period – busy times – I am checking in again here from Boston at the Embedded Systems Conference. What do barbeques, headphone and green technology have in common? Well, apparently the “design component” and Robert Brunner, the industrial Designer of such product lines as the Apple II, Macintosh, Newton, and PowerBook. After a short night in “Hotel United” I did arrive on the red eye flight in Boston just in time for the key notes at ESC.

Robert Brunner, founder and creative director of the San Francisco-based design firm Ammunition, was quite inspiring. He talked about design as a complete process, with all disciplined being involved. He gave a couple of examples from companies in which he is involved in. Starting with “Fuego” he showed pictures of the BBQ I will continue to lust after for a while now. Their BBQs are dubbed as the “iPhones of grills” and the design aspect clearly achieved the target of making BBQing a joint experience, with the BBQ in the center.

Brunner then continued with “Beats By Dr. Dre” showing the design aspects of high quality headphones for the target group which thinks that “badly compressed music with bad ear plugs” is the standard. I especially liked the declared Dr. Dre marketing strategy that “a whole lot of people owe him a whole lot of favors”. This approach got a surprising line up of celebrities endorse the headphones, including the new “heartbeats” by Lady Gaga headphones which are doubling as fashionable ear rings.

To make the line up complete with Green Technology Brunner gave two facts worth repeating. The first fact came from Al Gore’s “Generational Challenge to Repower America”: “Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent of the entire world’s energy needs for a full year. Tapping just a small portion of this solar energy could provide all of the electricity America uses.”

The second fact came from the International Energy Agency: Worldwide, consumer electronics represent 15 percent of household power demand, and that is expected to triple during the next 20 years. To satisfy the demand from gadgets will require building the equivalent of 560 coal-fired power plants, or 230 nuclear plants.

After that introduction Brunner talked about “Regen”, which aims to revolutionize personal and home electronics with a new class of design-driven, light-powered products. The products he showed were both beautiful and practical, and of course all powered by light. The five key components of Regen’s “Smart Architecture Platform” are a Power Efficient Architecture, Hybrid Power Techniques using USB when the light goes away, USB compatibility, User Interfaces and Wireless Connectivity.

The design focus of Brunner’s keynote was immediately compensated with a somewhat geeky industry address by Kevin Dallas, GM of the Windows Embedded Division at Microsoft. Titled “Delivering Compelling Devices”, Dallas’ address was well executed and brought several on stage demos, including an industrial one from Siemens, which showed interesting user interfaces allowing to interact with the design and production line using gestures on the touch screen. Dallas announced Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3, again with nice user interfaces, this time focused on the consumer market.

Before I went off to the show floor to man our booth in the ARM Partner Pavillion, I couldn’t help but noticing that my neighbor all along had used the same gestures introduced by Microsoft on stage on his iPhone while browsing and checking email. Oh well.

Visit us here in Boston and don’t miss the remaining sessions in the track “Improve Productivity at the HW/SW Interface” I chaired:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

[ESC-304] Lessons Learned from Hardware/Firmware Integration Problems
Gary Stringham
Wednesday, 8:00am — 9:15am

[ESC-322] Coprocessing and Multiprocessing Techniques to Accelerate Software
Skip Hovsmith
Wednesday, 2:00pm — 3:15pm

[ESC-342] Developing Software Prior to Silicon using System Prototyping
Juergen Jaeger
Frank Schirrmeister
Wednesday, 3:30pm — 4:45pm

Thursday, September 24, 2009

[ESC-403] How to Write Reusable Device Drivers
Gary Stringham
Thursday, 8:00am — 9:15am

See you in Boston!

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