Mechatronics Zone Blog

How to Connect Legacy Plant Equipment to the IoT

By Rob Spiegel | March 9, 2018

When you’re connecting legacy equipment to the internet, adjustments need to be made for security. Most legacy equipment was not designed to connect beyond the plant network. While the company’s VPN is often considered the go-to network for sharing data with the outside world, an edge node is often a more practical – and secure – solution.

Electric Motorcycles May Finally Be Making the Turn

By Kevin Clemens | March 9, 2018

For most of the world a motorcycle or a scooter is a basic means of transportation. Cheap to purchase and operate, and easy to park on crowded city streets, commuting on two wheels is a way of life. This is especially in emerging markets where a motorcycle or scooter is an attractive alternative to a bicycle, a public bus, or walking. In the 1950s and 1960s in the U.S., motorcycles had a utilitarian purpose too, but somehow, during the 1980s and 1990s, motorcycles, and in particular U.S.-built Harley Davidson motorcycles, became “lifestyle accessories.”

There Is Still Time to Submit Your Proposals for ESC Minneapolis 2018

By Jennifer Campbell | March 9, 2018

Yes, it’s true — the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) Minneapolis 2018 Call for Speakers has passed. But you are in luck — it has been extended for two more weeks.

How to Create a Smart Greenhouse with a DIY WiFi Timer/Controller

By William Grill | March 8, 2018

Large and small grow facilities have special lighting, temperature, and humidity needs. Fans, coolers, heaters, and related venting or air flow controls have become standard requirements in most cases. A simpler, piecemeal approach might use outlet timers and one of a few available temperature and humidity sensor-based switch resources – like the Sonoff TH-16 WiFi base offering – and a simple thermostat solution for temperature maintenance.

Fuel Cells Set Out to Disrupt the World—By Starting Small

By Kevin Clemens | March 8, 2018

Disrupting the status quo is hard. From the 1990s onward, the idea that hydrogen fuel cells would play an important role in the future of the automobile has been compelling. Fuel cells generate electricity by combining compressed hydrogen gas with oxygen from the atmosphere. Aside from electricity, the only other emissions are heat and water vapor.

What You Need to Know About MedTech Startups and Product Development

By Mitch Maiman | March 7, 2018

Those of you in this space, or who have been in this space, know the unique challenge of launching a product (and company) in the medical technology domain. For those thinking about this space, or in the midst of working to build a MedTech product and company, here are a few of the special challenges you will face compared to creating a consumer, commercial, or industrial product:


Auto racing, Aviation Find Common Ground with Electrification

By Kevin Clemens | March 7, 2018

A hundred years ago, auto racing and aviation shared many of the same technical challenges. Engineers whose work encompassed the beginnings of aerodynamic streamlining, demands for lightweight construction, maximizing piston engine performance, and enhanced safety found similar solutions for aircraft and automobiles. The dawn of the jet age in the late 1950s, however caused a divergence of technologies and interests, as aside from a few jet-powered land speed record cars, performance of racing cars depended upon the combustion of gasoline in an internal combustion engine.

Suppliers Prepare New Products, Processes to Meet 54.5-MPG Standard

By Charles Murray | March 6, 2018

No matter what happens to the 54.5-mpg federal fuel efficiency mandate in April, suppliers are already rolling out new products and manufacturing processes in support of the pending legislation.

“Nobody is saying, ‘Let’s wait and see what happens,’” Lyle Otremba, vice president of Cooper Standard Automotive, told Design News. “The assumption is, it’s going to stay. Besides, the rest of the world isn’t stopping. And if we want to compete on a global stage, we’re going to have to do it anyway.”

Smart Automation Tools Become Available to Small Companies

By Rob Spiegel | March 6, 2018

Smart manufacturing technology is making its way down the supply chain to smaller manufacturers. Once the domain of the largest global enterprises, advanced systems – including robotics, predictive maintenance, and production analytics – are within the cost reach of the suppliers to those large manufacturers.

Is TDK's Chirp Acquisition an Investment in the Future of VR?

By Chris Wiltz | March 5, 2018

Chirp Microsystems, makers of a novel time-of-flight (ToF) sensor that enables touch-free control of devices, has released its first series of products and entered into a deal to be acquired by TDK. But will Chirp's most unique application, touch-free controls for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), remain on the road map?