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Proof of Concept: e-NewsPaper #hardware #electronic

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When in 2000 Philips Research first announced their development of e-paper I was very excited I went as far as to investigate what would be needed to attach a microcomputer which could attach to the e-paper and create a real electronic NewsPaper. I got a microcomputer manufacturer, who gave me an option of including bluetooth so data could be transferred via a mobile device and was willing to integrate the e-paper. The specification that Philips had announced for the e-paper were not completely clear regarding the integration of the device, and we didn’t consider this to be too big an issue. And a friend had already been working on a mobile payment system, which I wanted to use. I even had a large content provider willing to fund a possible a PoC.

wireframe of a enewspaper device

The specifications for the device contained:

  • Mobile ARM processor
  • some MBs storage
  • some MBs memory
  • USB
  • BlueTooth using PDA Sync or Serial Port (COM1) with Data Transfer

The microcomputer was able to run a 2.4 linux kernel, with all of the hardware supported by the kernel. The only thing I would be required to do is write a driver for the e-paper, which I didn’t consider rocket science. The only real issue might have been battery-life, although the specification for the e-paper had extremely low power requirements.

Innocent as I was I thought that Philips Research would be overjoyed to have somebody ask them to produce a prototype with no cost to them. They didn’t even reply to my repeated mails.


Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

March 9, 2011 at 8:20 am

Counting Protons with a Fiat 500

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Ok, so not really with a Fiat 500, with a avalanche photodiode. An photodiode converts light (photons) into either current or voltage. You’ve probably seen it in use if you have a light which switches on when it gets darker.

An avalanche photodiode is more sensitive compared to other semiconductor photodiodes, but are still not able to distinguish between one photon or multiple photons arriving. Andrew Shields explains how to use a standard avalanche photodiode so that it counts photons as they arrive in the article An avalanche-photodiode-based photon-number-resolving detector. “ That’s like turning a Fiat 500 into a Ferrari.

It’s actually relatively simple, when you think about it. A photon causes a certain amount of energy to be released when it first hits the avalanche photodiode, two photons cause twice the amount of to be released. At this early stage, say Shields and friends, the avalanche current is proportional to the number photons that have struck.

The reason this is so impressive is that it reduces the cost of detecting photons down. Currently the last mile for ISPs is almost exclusively over copper, this discovery makes it cheaper to put glass fibre in your home. And as mentioned in the abstract it makes optical quantum computing more of a reality.

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Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

July 10, 2008 at 10:45 am

Posted in electronics

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IPv4 address space filling up

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I have a digital subscription to Electronic Design Europe Digital and they lead with scaremongering. The IPv4 address space is filling up.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has established that 3.65 billion of the 4.3 billion available addresses are already allocated to Internet users. This organisation believes that within three years, the world will have exhausted its stock of IP addresses.

This is something which has been known for years, if it wasn’t for such techniques such as NAT (Network Address Translation) we’d be over the edge already.
One of the issues, as stated in the article, is that the lack of IP numbers brings an additional problem there is little space left for the coexistence of IPv4 and IPv6. The address translation requires IPv6 and IPv4 addresses to be linked, in a method similar to NAT.
Besides from this there are many more advantages to IPv6, security and efficiency.

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Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

July 7, 2008 at 4:15 pm

Posted in network

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