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CEOs, engineers, and theoretical physicists…oh my!

Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) 2010 has come and gone, but not before revealing new technologies, exciting shifts in the industry, and current trends in the embedded community. This annual conference—held in San Jose, California at the McEnery Convention Center—attracts many thousands of attendees ranging from executives and investment bankers to engineers and product mangers—plus, one famous theoretical physicist.

World renowned theoretical physicist Michio Kaku

World renowned theoretical physicist Michio Kaku

Dr. Michio Kaku, born in San Jose, was the opening day keynote at the conference. Kaku is one of the most influential theoretical physicists in the world today, specializing in String Field Theory (SFT). SFT takes String Theory and reformulates it with Quantum Field Theory (I warned you that I was geek!). Kaku’s goal in life is to complete the work Albert Einstein began, defining a Theory of Everything (ToE) that is aimed to provide one elegant equation that would unify the inherently incompatible sciences of quantum mechanics and general relativity.

Kaku is also a world-renowned futurist, and the future was the topic of his keynote. He spoke about what he and some of his colleagues predict the world will look like 10 to 20 years in the future. For all you Trekkies out there, he revealed that the famed Tricorder is likely to be produced in the not-too-distant future. The technology behind it is no longer a mystery, yet you’ll be surprised to find it applied in an unusual location–your toilet! Who would have thought we would have toilets analyzing our health? Kaku said that the technology will be so advanced that the toilets will dwarf current day datacenters in computing power and could detect cancer in our body at a very early stage. Just send in the nanobots to remove the cancerous clusters and you’re good to go.

Kaku then moved on to augmented reality. He presented an image of and discussed a contact lens with embedded computing technology that has been produced at the University of Washington–Seattle. The technology is in its infancy (not currently a working model), the possibility exists that small, but powerful computers will fit on a contact lens. He likened the technology to having Terminator-vision. Imagine walking down the street and having on-demand access to and a constant overlay of data, the computer in our contact lens tracking and analyzing everything we see. When we encounter someone we know but can’t recall their name, the information is instantly displayed to us, whether projected into our retina or on the lens itself.

This innovation would not only revolutionize society, but have impressive applications and implications in mil-aero environments. The mind reels at the thought of how future warfighters could benefit from this novel technology. Unencumbered by goggles, handheld devices, heads-up displays, and other bulky equipment, soldiers on the ground and in the air would be instantly linked with the latest and greatest military hardware and software tools, repositories of information, off-site commanders, and their colleagues. Talk about an instant network-centric battlefield!

The fast and effective development of technology innovations such as this requires the use of advanced electronic design automation tools. I look forward to the day when these technology visions come to fruition. It is a geek’s dream!

In the next few blogs, I will cover many facets of the embedded computing industry—such as new technologies, shifts in the industry, and trends in the community—and how they relate to and impact the mil-aero market. Here’s a teaser: I spoke with a prominent military hardware supplier that uses Mentor Graphics’ software exclusively in the design of its printed circuit boards. Any guesses? Stay tuned to find out.

Kaku, Geek, Mentor, Trekkies, theoretical physicist, warfighter, Mil-Aero, Milaero, Electronic, Military, contact lens computer, soldier, Mentor Graphics, futurist, Mentor.com, Michio, Engineer, Michio Kaku

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That is indeed an interesting vision of the future, but I have a point of view opposite to that quoted to Kaku - I do not look forward to the day of the damned when people are walking around worrying whether the guy tapping his Rolex is reading the FBI database of every Joe Public and his dog and YOU - yes You. As technology leaders it is our responsibility to direct our efforts in better directions than the path sometimes asked for by the very few rich people who claim that they own us. It is the task of technology leaders everywhere to look beyond the money balance sheet and figure out how much off-balance loss to society occurs. If a project is net harm or unknown then I prefer to walk away than have blood on the metal hands which I might be asked to craft for their owners. That seems fuddy-duddy and luddite but I am not anti-technology. I merely prioritize activity towards the helpful technologies such as waste reduction and renewable power. If that pisses off rich people then so be it. They had their twentieth century and pushed Radium cure-alls, tetra-ethyl lead, CFC's, started two world wars and nearly nuked Havana and still try to take credit for every good work done by others which has ever occurred. I am wary of groups of people who say that they have so much money or shares that they own the product roadmap. I say that it is an existential threat to all of the good and helpful people in society both in the US and the rest of the world that money results in us unquestioningly taking any orders. I say that money is possibly the wrong measure of esteem by which we should decide whose orders to take given that so much of their money is traceably printed money or the three-cup-trick at Wall Street or proceeds of fictitious transactions or of sending good men to war to grab materials which they need to sell to support their ability to buy . . . better contact lenses and nasty killer robots to keep ahead of Joe Public, and his dog, and You.

Dan Kitcher
11:20 PM May 20, 2010

[...] are often handling various tasks once outside their realm of responsibility, and experience. At the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC), in fact, I met several mil/aero engineers scrambling for software solutions offering ease of use [...]

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