There are times when we get so caught up in the news, natural emergencies, and keeping up with the latest technological whiz-bangs that we lose perspective. And then a simple miracle slams into us that stops the music for a moment and lets us appreciate where we’ve been and where we’re going.
Just recently, for instance, David Wiens of Mentor Graphics stopped by our New Hampshire office to demonstrate his new design software that integrates multi-site global company libraries using data management tools. More often, large companies have distinct design teams spread out in Taiwan, China, Europe, and the U.S. This tool spans the time continuum. Picture this: the designs for FPGAs can be integrated with those for corresponding PCBs. Software engineers in various time zones can simultaneously edit interconnects on the same board with ease. We watched a video of the “rat’s nest” of connections on fine-pitch components being edited in several areas at once. It looked so complex, so intricate; yet it simplified workflow.
This October, faced with the need to set new specifications, SEMI published eight new technical standards applicable to the semiconductor, flat panel display, and MEMS manufacturing industry. Many of you have participated in standards committees and know how tedious it is to build the document, reference previous works, and decide which path to take. One of the eight standards, PR10-1105, proposed a specification for RF Air Interface between RFID tags in carriers and RFID readers in semiconductor and material-handling equipment. With a new tracking method, such as RFID, we suddenly have another tool for simplifying electronics manufacturing. PR10 provides for the interchangeability of suppliers’ carrier ID tag readers at load ports. It will allow one standard to define the single RF communication interface across disparate equipment types. The standard will help to verify that the correct material is being used at different steps during the manufacturing process.
All the hot new products use the latest technologies to meet the consumers’ need to streamline and simplify. Nokia unveiled its first keyboard phone, due out in the first quarter of 2006. It features a typewriter keypad for thumb tapping and is based on Symbian, the most widely used operating system for advanced wireless phones. Now we can e-mail outside of the office. Motorola’s latest offering is ROKR E1, which combines iTunes capability in a cell phone, in addition to a camera, video, and keyboard. And just in time for the gift giving season there’s the iPod Nano for music, the new 2.5" TV, and a host of other cool toys.
In the midst of all this thinking about how complex electronics has become and how embedded new technologies are in all products, a child was born in my family. In a private, joyful moment, the deadlines and details of modern life suddenly became simplified. I wonder how much the world will change by the time she’s five. Today’s technology will be obsolete. Perhaps I’ll concentrate on teaching her to satisfy her curiosities, to enjoy work, to be honest, play as much as she can, and how to absorb in a few private moments the beauty of it all. I’ll teach her to ski, write stories, and pick blackberries. In turn, she may teach me how to use the latest whiz-bangs.