Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Parties and other good thoughts for 2010

White Elephant

Like a lot of places, end of the year means office parties. This year, we played White Elephant.

After some cunning stratagem in the face of fierce competition, I am glad to report that I come away with the biggest prize, an electronic bug killer.

The question now is how do I slip it into the next White Elephant exchange. Thinking...

Happy 2010!

Happy holidays and look forward to a fruitful 2010.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Robots at PARC

Email Notice

Tomorrow, Dec. 17, I will host three visitors who are bringing their robot to PARC. They will be “exploring” the hallways and the cafeteria with scanning laser range finders and video cameras.

They will engage in 3 activities:

1. Collect a dataset for use by the robotics research community to study localization and mapping.
2. Give a demonstration of the robot and allow interested people to tele-operate it.
3. Collect a dataset with people around.

Does this happen a lot?

It just so happened that I hosted a visitor to PARC over lunch on the 17th. As we chatted in the cafeteria, the robot came toward us. My visitor was not fazed and thought that this happens regularly at PARC.

Well, sort of. We do have a separate lab space for land-bound and flying robots. We don't usually let them out in cafeteria though.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Digital Content Consumption - through the lens of users

Digital Content Design - building blocks

A major characteristic of digital content that makes it different from the traditional medium is that it can be consumed in non traditional settings. For example PARC has done identified the notion of "micro-waiting" as a new way that users engage content.

We are also exploring the categories/thresholds of "information overload." The obvious implication is how can technology help users find the nuggets of useful information given the constant deluge of data from all sources.

Embodied Interaction Framework

Beyond understanding these building blocks, there are teams at PARC exploring the issue of how to design an embodied interaction framework that leverages natural human behavior to alter system state or trigger interaction. Or, in plain(er) English, create devices/solutions where a user does not need to learn a new "language" to interact with technology. What makes PARC's approach unique is that this explicitly incorporates social science and psychology insight, also areas that PARC has a long history of advanced work, into the technology design.

Moving from Content Creation to Content Consumption

Although nobody would dispute the truism that content creation and consumption are the two sides of the same coin, people don't always think of it that way. Today, there seems to be little understanding of the consumption side beyond aggregate measurements to meet the needs of content creators/providers.

Let's flip the lens around and ask how to measure and deliver consumption pattern in the eyes of individual consumers. If we can make it seamless and nearly invisible, this could ignite the next phase of the digital revolution.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Flexible Electronics: Materials and Applications

The Textbook

Flexible Electronics: Materials and ApplicationsFlexible Electronics: Materials and Applications

Given PARC's work in flexible and printed electronics. It is little surprise that we also write the textbook on this topic. And, this is my reference reading material before attending Printed Electronics USA 2009.

Printed Electronics at PARC

Here are some of the areas that we are working on right now:
- PEN substrate
- Ink-jet printing (nanoparticle)
- Polymer dielectrics
- Polymer semiconductor

In our facility, we support different print head technologies and can customize to each project's specific needs. So far, we have done work with Microfab, Spectra, and Xerox print heads.

Sensors and applications

An area that we are seeing a lot of interests in is printed flexible sensors. We have a project that measures acceleration, pressure, acoustic, and thermal status then incorporates memory and CMOS (logic) into a single printed sensor tape. The initial work is for DARPA but it would have wide civilian applications once the technical kinks have been worked out.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Printed Electronics USA 2009 Report

PARC's Printed Electronics

PARC participated in PEUSA09 as technical presenter, facility tour sponsor, and exhibitor. Come to this annoucnement if you like to download the assets that you have seen in the show.

PEUSA09 Field Report

Several people commented that printed electronics seem to have developed a robust vendor/supplier base. And, as people stake out their claim in the upstream value-chain, the next step would be for early adopter consumers/buyers to set the application directions.

Beyond the traditional application of OLED (organic light-emitting diode - bendable display screen), flexible and disposable sensors seem to be another area that can be high value-add yet difficult to achieve with traditional silicon based solutions.

Looking at the value-chain, "system integrators" services probably will play an important match making role for the immediate future as the buyers often do not have the development capabilities in-house for printed electronics while the suppliers may be too limited, albeit very in-depth, on the modules and materials.

Not surprisingly, these are the services (characterization & optimization, application development, and full-system prototyping) that PARC offers. More importantly, we have had a lot of interesting conversations with both vendors and buyers to work with PARC.

If you are interested in what PARC can do for you in printed electronics, pls contact