element14’s DreamBoard project was launched in October last year, where engineers created their ultimate development kit from scratch using an interactive tool on the element14 Community site. They chose from a wide range of technologies and features, including core architecture, board size, memory, processor, sensors, interface and connectivity. By Simon Holt, Strategic Alliance Marketing Manager, element14.
Manjuprasad Basangi, a final year engineering student from India was the overall winner of the initiative. He created the 'PC64' board as a learning tool for students, as well as a powerful platform for professional engineers to build and test their systems. Features included on-board wireless connectivity, GPI/O pins and on-board sensors including a gryoscope, accelerometer and temperature to support robotic and drone projects. Manjuprasad's board captured 67% of the votes and beat thousands of brand new dev kit creations to be named the 'Ultimate DreamBoard'.
The runner up was the Mother H.E.N DreamBoard from Draven Umbra in the USA, whose dev kit enables a 'Home Environment Network', designed to sense motion, temperature, humidity, lighting and indoor air quality and control them to optimal conditions.
Over the course of the competition, element14 received more than 3,000 submissions, which were then narrowed down to sixteen finalists spanning the UK, Europe, the USA and India. The finalists, as selected by a team of VIP engineers on the element14 Community, went head-to-head in the Battle of the DreamBoard, culminating in an ultimate showdown between the two finalists.
The unique designs from both design engineers and electronics enthusiasts have provided us with significant insight into dev kit requirements and the design aspirations of tomorrow’s electronic engineers. The Dreamboard challenge uncovered the following trends into what engineers are really looking for from dev kits.
The connected future
The collected DreamBoard data points to a clear demand for increased power for multiple connected devices, with a strong preference for quad-core processors and network connectivity.
The top selected dev kit features show a clear focus on connectivity, with 70% of dev kit designs using WiFi and almost half (47%) featuring Bluetooth. Engineers were also given a choice of 14 sensors for their DreamBoards, ranging from temperature to light, through to magnetic and inductive.
There appears to be a clear appetite among consumers for these types of devices, with 64% of those surveyed in the Engineering a Connected World study (which uncovered the opinions of 3,500 people from around the world into everything from the connected devices people are most likely to buy and which innovations are more hype than substance) saying they are interested in owning a fitness-tracking device and 61% confirming they own, or plan to buy, an internet connected car, with improved efficiency and passenger safety at the top of the list of innovations.
A healthcare and energy focus
Demand for connected technologies requiring sophisticated sensors and increased power extends into industry sectors that are also on the rise. The Engineering a Connected World report highlighted the areas that consumers would like to see technology focused, with healthcare at the top (68%) closely followed by renewable energy (66%). Accurate sensor data will inevitably form a large part of driving the future of medical technology and the energy sector.
IoT here to stay
There is no doubt that development kits are playing a critical role in the design process, from simple testing right through to full prototypes, and it is clear from the features requested that IoT is continuing to grow in popularity.
Consumer demand for connected devices that allow them to take control of their surroundings is clearly having an impact on design engineers and the development kits set to enter the market in the coming years. As processor speeds increase and devices reduce in size, technology that was once beyond the realms of possibility is becoming commonplace.
As well as showing what the engineers of today want, the DreamBoard initiative has given us an incredible insight into the technology of tomorrow and how we need to support our customers to make it a reality.