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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk


Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

New Tech Tuesdays: Virtual Reality Is Taking Us to Places We've Never Thought Possible Tommy Cummings

New Tech Tuesdays

Join journalist Tommy Cummings for a weekly look at all things interesting, new, and noteworthy for design engineers.

My young son has turned an extra bedroom into a virtual reality room in our house, meaning we don't have to go far to experience worldly adventures.

You don a headset and can drive in Grand Prix auto races, draw designs in the sky, explore cities and attractions all over the world, and more—all in the comfort of his 3-meter x 3-meter room.

Marketing efforts push VR for games and other multi-dimensional experiences, and it has a strong presence in the entertainment industry. But there's much more to VR than entertainment and gaming.

Leaning on ever-expanding artificial intelligence and programming languages, VR is making breakthroughs in healthcare, automotive applications, education, space and military, architecture, digital marketing, occupational safety, social science and psychology, and tourism.

VR can help healthcare specialists who need to perform precise operations train without being in an actual emergency. VR is becoming an increased presence with car manufacturers in developing features that analyze road scenarios and the behavior of cars.

In educational realms, VR can transport travelers into difficult-to-access spaces in museums or heritage sites with 360-degree videos and models made from 3D scanning.

To get VR projects off the ground, designers can count on manufacturers to develop products with deep AI capabilities.

In this week's New Tech Tuesday, we'll look at AI-powered devices and sensors from Bosch, Advantech, and Axiomtek.

Sensors and Edge AI Solutions for Designers

Bosch’s BHI260AP Self-Learning AI Smart Sensor with Integrated Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) is a versatile solution for always-on sensor applications. The sensor supports self-learning AI software that integrates a range of software features that can be useful for offloading tasks from the main controller. The sensor has embedded AI with on-sensor applications such as fitness tracking, navigation, machine-learning analytics, and orientation estimate. The software has an activity learning time of fewer than 30 seconds. The device is ideal for use in wrist wearables, head-mounted devices, smartphones, and augmented reality/virtual reality/mixed reality headsets and controller devices. The sensor also recognizes pre-programmed activities such as jogging, jumping, and swimming. When used on a wristband, the BHI260AP can determine the number of steps, the length of a stroke, or the wearer's swimming style.

Advantech's VEGA-340 Edge AI Acceleration Module provides plug-and-play AI inference capabilities for vision applications, including video surveillance, medical diagnostics, and machine vision. The VEGA-340 can boost video infrastructure performance from edge contribution to cloud distribution. The device's low-power solution complies with media industry needs. The VEGA-340 boasts hardware acceleration for common deep neural networks and is scalable for multiple video streams. The module's Intel® Movidius™ Myriad X VPUs are optimized for image processing, computer vision, and deep learning.  The modules also provide 10 times the performance of previous-generation models.

Axiomtek's AIE100-903-FL Edge AI Powered by NVIDIA® Jetson™ Nano is designed for AI and edge computing, smart retail, and smart city applications. The box-level system runs the Ubuntu 18.04 operating system on the NVIDIA® Jetson Nano module. The ultra-compact (147.4mm x 129.8mm x 34.6mm) system is equipped with a 15W GbE Power over Ethernet (PoE) port. The 1kg system has a -30°C to 50°C operating range, 3Grms vibration resistance, and 10 percent to 95 percent non-condensing humidity tolerance. Combined with an optional IP42 cover kit that supports semi-outdoor applications, the system is suitable for wet and cold environments.

Tuesday's Takeaway

The possibilities of VR applications seem endless. They're widely available for entertainment and gaming, but manufacturers are providing designers and developers with a deeper array of products to explore and create even more VR experiences.

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Tommy Cummings is a freelance writer/editor based in Texas. He's had a journalism career that has spanned more than 40 years. He contributes to Texas Monthly and Oklahoma Today magazines. He's also worked at The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. Tommy worked at Mouser Electronics from 2018 to 2021 as a technical content and product content specialist.

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