Don’t mention the takeover

5th December 2016
Joe Bush


Steve Rogerson looks at some of the recent news that may have missed the front page.

I seemed to have survived that walking and drinking festival commonly known as electronica. Well, it is walking during the day and drinking at night, but you know what I mean. This was Munich after all.

One of the talking points at the show was obviously the recent announcement that Qualcomm was taking over NXP. That is, it was a talking point everywhere apart from at the official NXP press conference where, when a journalist asked for a comment about the takeover he got a one-word answer: “No.” They were slightly more chatty at the other NXP press conference – this is the standards products group that will become a new company called Nexperia early next year and as such will not be subject to the takeover. “It won’t have a huge influence on us,” said Executive Vice President Frans Scheper.

One of the guest panellists at the first NXP conference was Axel Sikora from Offenburg University who thought the IoT was already acting in a very human way. “Devices are talking to each other but don’t necessarily understand each other, similar to humans,” he said. I don’t know what he means.

Talking of the IoT, and everyone is, I received a press release from Taiwanese company Faraday Technology about its IoT development platform named after one of the planets. The headline started with the words: “Faraday unveils Uranus.” School kids could be heard giggling in editorial offices across the country.

Ever heard of rovables? These are tiny little robots that can crawl over your body and basically do what you want. Imagination already running overtime? Well, their inventors from Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are suggesting interactive jewellery, health monitors and even for adjusting clothing. I am sure other ideas are being considered.

On the subject of slightly dubious uses of technology, a company called Red Light Centre – I think you can guess where this is going – has created a VR world of some of the more seedy establishments to explore wearing a VR headset. Just don’t get too engrossed - someone might be watching.

And finally back to Qualcomm, which has gone all cowboy on us. Maybe it too has been enjoying virtual reality in the TV show Westworld, because it has decided to offer a bounty. But no wanted dead or alive posters, the firm is offering rewards up to £15,000 to hackers who find vulnerabilities in its Snapdragon processors. Who says crime doesn’t pay? Car maker Ford meanwhile has had a similar idea and is hiring people to put faulty parts onto its assembly line as part of its quality control process. Literally a spanner in the works.

Image: An unexpected piece of open space was created at the often overcrowded Electronica show due to the recent takeover of Fairchild by On Semiconductor. What was to have been the Fairchild stand was left almost completely empty apart from a big banner sending people to On Semiconductor. Ah well, somewhere for people to relax.

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