The biggest themes to emerge from electronica 2018

3rd December 2018
Lanna Cooper

This year’s electronica lived up to its slogan of 'connecting everything - smart, safe and secure'. This is evidenced in the three main technologies on display at the show: as Artificial Intelligence (AI), home automation systems and medical electronics. Michele Windsor, Global Marketing Manager of Ultralife, explores these growing trends in the electronics industry.

Artificial intelligence
It should be no surprise that AI was a core theme at the bi-annual electronica show. AI technologies are becoming prominent in every sector, including the medical and home automation market.

In healthcare, AI systems are being implemented to manage medical records and inspect the images and diagnostics of tests like CT and MRI scans. Despite lack of trust from consumers in the safety of AI, research has found that the error rates for image labelling has decreased from 28.5- 2.5% following the integration of these systems.

Wearable and portable devices
Over the last year, we’ve seen significant growth in the adoption and development of smart wearables. From smoking cessation patches to devices that can monitor the breathing of sleep apnoea sufferers, wearable medical devices have the potential to revolutionise healthcare. Most notably, in the context of being able to manage and treat the ageing population and long term health conditions.

As an experienced manufacturer, we often find that for many medical devices, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) come to us for advice far too late in the design process. They will have a space for us to fill, but there is not always adequate room to fit a battery that delivers the required energy density and runtime. This is particularly problematic in wearable and other compact, portable, electronic devices, where space is a premium.

With its high gravimetric and volumetric energy density, rechargeable lithium ion (Li-ion) is the dominant battery technology for powering portable electronics. At electronica, Accutronics representatives exhibited the Entellion range of smart batteries, which have been engineered to be easily integrated into new portable devices with minimal effort and cost.

Built to offer a high level of functionality and safety, products in the Entellion range like the VR lithium ion standard smart batteries are designed to feature the latest tracking SMBus and SBS compliant fuel gauges. This means that the battery provides the host equipment with accurate real time information, which can be monitored and managed by the user effectively.

Home automation
As visitors of electronica will already know, it’s not just medical devices that require high performing and reliable batteries. Smart devices are also entering our homes in the form of security cameras, smart lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. At Ultralife, we’ve taken our expertise from providing power solutions for medical and military applications to design our CR123A battery products launching early next year.

One of the main concerns regarding the operation of home automation devices is that not all of them can be connected directly to the grid, which offers an ongoing power supply. With the global home automation market estimated to reach $81bn in 2023 for a stand-alone device, manufacturers are looking for longer-lasting batteries to reduce the maintenance required by users.

The UB123A, which is part of the CR123A range, has been created with an internal spiral construction that improves overall performance and uses crimp seal technology to provide the highest capacity in the industry, which is 1800mAh.

While AI, home automation and medical devices may have dominated many of the discussions at this year’s electronica, we expect this these will also be dominant themes for the 2020 show.

As the home automation market grows, and we make the transition from the clinical setting we’ve come to associate with healthcare to one focussed on home care, these trends reflect where the industry is headed. Design and electronics engineers need to be clued up and prepared.

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