mobile | classic
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology Magazine





Follow us on:
Follow us on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn


Search...

Electronics Buyers' Guide

Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook 2017


 

From the editor's desk: This phablet is the hottest thing around – and it has GPS!
22 February 2017, News

How easy it is to take technology for granted. Perhaps the most fitting testament to the dependability of modern electronics is that, after the honeymoon period of getting to know the latest gadget that we just can't live without, we tend not to notice them until they let us down. We all know the frustration of losing our GPS signal on the way to an important meeting in an unfamiliar area, or the battery going flat while on an urgent call.

It's human nature to take the familiar for granted, but stop and consider a couple of recent examples of how much it takes to get these technologies right, and the consequences of getting them wrong.

Is that a fire in your pocket?

Of course, there are worse things that can happen than suffering a flat battery at an inconvenient time. One of the biggest scares in consumer electronics in recent times has been the cases of lithium-ion batteries catching fire or exploding. I've read stories of people suffering severe burns from their e-cigarette's battery catching fire, and one bloke even lost seven teeth when his exploded. I'll refrain from commenting on the irony of this because it's no laughing matter.

Probably the most publicised example of batteries catching fire was Samsung's doomed Note7, numerous incidents of which prompted the company to first recall and then terminate production of one of the most eagerly anticipated phablet smartphones of all time. The company has released details of its investigation into the incidents, which were apparently caused by faulty batteries that suffered short circuits across their electrodes. As a result, it has implemented a host of extra quality and safety processes, which is no surprise since the fiasco is estimated to have cost Samsung at least $5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016. Then again, that didn't stop it from making record profits of $7,9 billion in the same quarter, so what's the harm?

I can see my house from here

Since it became operational in 1995, the USA's Global Positioning System (GPS) has become synonymous with global navigation satellite systems (GNSS). It is not generally well known that Russia has a satellite constellation of its own, GLONASS, which has been providing full global coverage since 2011. In fact, most mobile phones made in the last couple of years can receive both GPS and GLONASS signals, and dynamically switch to whichever one provides the strongest signal in a particular location.

Now, the European Space Agency has launched its own GNSS called Galileo, which entered initial service on 15 December 2016. After five years of launches, there are now 18 Galileo satellites in orbit. The most recent four, launched in November, will undergo months of testing before being deemed fit to join the constellation. The full Galileo constellation will consist of 24 satellites plus orbital spares, intended to prevent any interruption in service.

Even the little details are impressive. Since Galileo’s timing needs to be accurate down to the nanosecond range, each satellite has an atomic (hydrogen maser) clock which uses the ultra stable 1,4 GHz transition in a hydrogen atom to measure time to within 0,45 nanoseconds over 12 hours. A second, independent rubidium clock provides accuracy to within 1,8 nanoseconds over 12 hours. While that is astonishing accuracy by most standards, it's still too much drift for such a demanding application, so the clocks need to be synchronised regularly with a network of even more stable ground-based reference clocks. These clocks on the ground also generate a worldwide time reference called Galileo System Time (GST), the standard for Europe's system, accurate to 28 billionths of a second.

That's a whole lot of preparation, hard work and engineering of multiple disciplines – 3 billion Euros worth in fact. If all goes according to plan, our smart devices will soon be able to pick and choose between GPS, GLONASS and Galileo signals, as well as China's imminent BeiDou system.

And if all goes according to plan, we won't even notice.

Brett van den Bosch

Editor


Credit(s)
Supplied By: Technews Publishing
Tel: +27 11 543 5800
Fax: +27 11 787 8052
Email: malckey@technews.co.za
www: www.technews.co.za
  Follow us on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn    

Further reading:

  • High-speed design expert completes SA seminar
    15 November 2017, EDA Technologies, News
    Internationally renowned expert Lee Ritchey returned to South Africa in October to present a course on high-speed printed circuit board (PCB) design. This follows a similar visit in March last year, ...
  • Electronics news digest
    15 November 2017, News
    South Africa • The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) hosted the inaugural Fifth Generation (5G) forum meeting from 1-2 November 2017 in Sandton. It stressed to the public that ...
  • Eskom Expo rewards young scientists
    15 November 2017, News
    The Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair (ISF) 2017 recognised some of the exceptional projects on display at an awards ceremony held at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Johannesburg.
  • Technology enablers towards connected and autonomous driving
    15 November 2017, Concilium Technologies, News
    The connected car is already here in many ways with advanced telematics becoming more and more available on a wide range of vehicles, ADAS and V2X almost a reality.
  • From the editor's desk: Smart cities promise local opportunities
    15 November 2017, Technews Publishing, News
    Hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear or read something about smart cities. Perhaps I’m only noticing it more because I’ve been doing some research into the topic and so it’s top of my mind. By nature ...
  • Win Microchip’s new in-circuit debugger
    15 November 2017, News
    Dataweek is offering its readers a chance to win a Microchip MPLAB ICD 4 in-circuit debugger. The new debugger introduces a faster processor and increased RAM to deliver up to twice the speed of ICD 3 ...
  • Wits researchers demonstrate quantum teleportation of light
    15 November 2017, News, Electronics Technology
    Quantum communication over long distances is seen as the future of information security and has been demonstrated in free space and fibre with two-dimensional states, recently over distances exceeding ...
  • Appointment
    15 November 2017, Uniross Batteries, News
    Jason Finney has been appointed to a sales position at Uniross Batteries.   
  • Electronics news digest
    11 October 2017, News
    South Africa • ICASA councillor and acting chairperson, Rubben Mohlaloga, has ended his term on the communications regulator’s council, following a more than one year stint in the acting chairperson ...
  • Arrow Altech appoints new sales GM
    11 October 2017, Arrow Altech Distribution (AAD), News
    Renato Martins has worked in the electronics industry since 1994, earning valuable work experience through various positions at BMS, Logitech SA and Mimic SA before joining AAD.
  • From the chairman’s desk: Q3 in South Africa
    11 October 2017, AREI, This Week's Editor's Pick, News
    Warren Muir, chairman of AREI, provides an update on how the local electronics sector is doing, and some of the Association’s latest happenings.
  • From the Editor's desk: The cyborgs are coming, and they are us
    11 October 2017, Technews Publishing, News
    Many of the most exciting and life-improving developments in electronics are happening on the biomedical and cybernetics fronts, but they also have the potential to be truly terrifying. Consider the ...

 
 
         
Contact:
Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronic Buyers Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Other
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual





 

         
    Classic | Mobile

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.