Portable Electronics: World Class Designs
Not long ago traveling humans only carried their necessities with them: food, clothing, passports, kids. If you wanted to talk with someone, you found a phone booth; to listen to music or catch up on the news, turn on the car radio; to see a movie, check the listings in the paper and drive to the neighborhood theater.
That was then, this is now. Somewhere along the line the defi nition of â€œ necessities â€ changed to include music. Sonyâ€™s introduction of the transistor radio in the 50s â€” the product on which they launched the company â€” was radical. Suddenly every teenager on the face of the earth had to have one. The sound was tinny and you needed to carry spare batteries, but transistor radios were â€œ cool. â€ Even in the 50s being cool could sell products whose technology could stand some improvement. In the early 80s the transistor radio gave way to the cassette-based Walkman, which several years later became the Diskman, moving to the new CD music format. You had to carry along a lot of CDs in a â€œ CD wallet, â€ but that was a small price to pay to be able to listen to the latest rock band while attempting to focus on your homework.
Now of course everything is digital and therefore portable â€” including the latest fl ash-based Walkman. Now you can carry around dozens of videos, hundreds of high-resolution photos, and thousands of songs, emails and documents on a thumbnail-sized memory card in your cell phone. If you want a larger screen or better sound, you can also carry a personal media player (PMP). If youâ€™re an inveterate web surfer and really want a larger format, one of the new mobile Internet devices (MIDs) may be just your cup of tea. But notice that the option here is to scale up , not down. Portable consumer electronics devices have gotten so conveniently small that ergonomic considerations, rather than technical ones, dictate the form factor. The overarching engineering challenge now is how to make all this advanced functionality run for an acceptable length of time from a tiny battery.
Consumer electronics is driving the entire electronics and semiconductor industries worldwide. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) estimates the size of the consumer electronics industry in the US at $ 170B in 2008. Worldwide the CEA predicts the consumer electronics industry will hit $ 700B in 2009, which if it were a country would make it the 19th largest country in the world, just behind Australia and ahead of the Netherlands.
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|May 30, 2020|
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