Smart Homes - The Future is Here

September 20, 2018 at 10:00 AM

 

Long ago, the idea of a home having the technology to be interactive was only a possibility in a Hollywood production or sci-fi novel. But those days are gone, the future is here and smart homes have moved from the realm of fantasy to an endless world of possibility. With the development of the Internet of Things (IoT), the world in general is becoming smarter and safer, and that includes our homes. Here, we’ll take a look at the technology behind the innovation bringing technological magic to your home.

 

First, what is a smart home? A smart home is automated, much in the way your coffee pot or your air conditioner are automated to turn on at a certain time or temperature. But a smart home takes that one step further by connecting all of those automated devices in your home through a wireless network, they are then able to be monitoring and programmed from one device. It is that communication with the devices that makes it smart. The devices in a smart home all rely on connectors and sensors to transmit and relay signals. Most wireless home automation uses low-power equipment so that power supply is not an issue.

 

To connect all of these devices, a combination of long and short-range wireless communication protocols is used, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ANT and ZigBee. With this technology, along with smartphones and tablets, we are now able to connect a multitude of devices within the home, this includes TVs, heating and cooling systems, lighting, appliances, security systems and cameras, or anything else that can be connected to the network. Plus, the communication to these devices is not distance limited, meaning you can control or change your thermostat while you’re at work or traveling using WAN connectivity via a router. Many new homes are being constructed with this technology built-in, older homes can be retrofitted with smart technologies and there are devices from companies like Google and Amazon that will connect to many electronics within your home.

 

Why would someone want a smart home? For one, it can make life a lot easier. Being able to control the devices within your home from your smartphone is super convenient. There is also an additional level of safety added when you’re able to monitor your home through a connected security network. Video cameras can provide surveillance in and around the home, with smart locks you can allow repairmen into your home and you are able to monitor when children get home from school. For people with disabilities or limited movement, smart homes that allow them to manage the home environment from a single, mobile device can make life much easier. In addition to safety, smart homes can be very energy efficient, which is good for the environment. Being able to control the thermostat remotely and turn lights and appliances on or off can be a great way to save energy.

 

With the growth of the IoT and more things becoming connected, it is no wonder that this would apply to our homes as well. Not only do smart homes provide convenience, they can also be good for the environment and give assistance to the disabled. Lucky for us, we no longer have to wait for the home of the future, the future is now. 

 

Cabling in Medical Devices

September 13, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

When we think of cabling, we usually think of data and communications and networking, but there are all types of industries and applications that use cabling. The medical field is one of those industries that is increasingly using technology in medical devices, and wiring and cabling have been a large component in the growth of those technological advancements.

 

There are many medical devices that are dependent on interconnect components such as cabling, but unlike cabling used for a communications network, the requirements for medical device cables are somewhat unique. Medical devices cables must be extremely flexible and withstand repeated flexing. They also have to meet stringent regulated safety guidelines that vary depending on what type of device the cable will be used in and how/if it will come in contact with the patient. In addition to constant flexing and safety requirements, these cables also must be able to withstand constant sterilization processes, which include autoclave, gamma and exposure to chemicals and solvents.  

 

Another challenge of medical device cabling is keeping up with devices as they get smaller. For example, MRI machines now fit into a single room, ultrasound machines are now portable on mobile carts and consumer medical devices are handheld. The miniaturization of medical devices has many benefits including increased mobility and diagnostic capabilities, lower power requirements and less distance from the patient. Plus, the miniaturization of cables in these devices results in less cabling weight which makes maneuvering the cables around the patient easier. It also allows for greater flexibility since cabling with a smaller diameter can be tightly bent and still retain the recommended minimum bend radius.

 

Some of the most important cable factors to consider when it comes to cabling in medical devices are reliability, cable jacket, mating design and connector type. When it comes to people’s health, the reliability of a cable can be the difference between life and death. If cables are working properly or the connections aren’t reliable, devices can malfunction and that can cause great harm. With that in mind, cable connectors have to be properly mated, which can be made easier with the use of color-coding or keyed connectors. Plus, cables with alternative contact designs, such as hyperboloid, are good solutions to avoid issues with contact design, and plug-and-play connectors simplify the task of connecting different pieces of equipment. Lastly, selecting the proper cable jacket, whether it needs to be flexible, insulated or able to withstand a corrosive environment is critical to the overall operation of any cable.

 

The medical industry can be a demanding environment for cabling, and there are many requirements to consider, but as this is an industry with technology that is constantly advancing, and so will the need for cables. 

 

411 on Near-Field Communications (NFC)

September 6, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

In this wild world of wireless technology, more and more short range communications standards are being introduced to support all of those wireless devices. As the name suggests, short range communication standards transmit over shorter distances than long range technologies, but they are still quite capable and are ideal for specialized applications. One standard in this short range category is near-field communications (NFC), used for communication between devices and secure payment applications like Apple Pay. In this post we’ll explore all you need to know about NFC and how it might replace your wallet.

 

NFC It is an ultra-short-range technology created for contactless communication between devices. It can be used with phones, tablets and laptops to share data with other NFC-enabled devices. It allows two-way communication without the use of Wi-Fi, 3G, LTE or any other wireless connection. Developed from radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, NFC is similar in that it uses radio waves, but is limited to approximately 4 inches of communication distance, which is largely viewed as a security benefit and is helping to boost the popularity of NFC. One of the most popular uses is for secure payment applications, like Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay, which transmit mobile payments that are dynamically encrypted.

 

NFC operates on the 13.56 MHz ISM frequency and unlike other short range communications like Bluetooth, NFC doesn’t require any device discovery or pairing to begin transferring data. With NFC, a connection is immediately established when another NFC-enabled device is within the 4-inch operating range. Once a contactless transaction is initiated, the NFC reader and device pass encrypted information back and forth to complete the process in mere seconds – making it not only easy, but much faster than conventional payment and data transfer options.

 

In addition to secure payment applications, there are other uses for the technology too. NFC can be used to transfer lots of other data between NFC-equipped devices. This includes sending a phone number, picture or document, sharing directions, launching an app on someone else’s phone and connecting with NFC tags (small, physical tags that contain NFC chips).

 

With the ease of use and convenience of NFC, soon we might need cash, cards or a wallet much less than we do now, if at all. Even more convenient is the fact that NFC is already installed in many smart phones. For a complete list of NFC-equipped devices, check out this list from NFC world.

  

The Mighty MPO Connector

August 30, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

Imagine a connector that can save you time, save you space and still perform – there you have the mighty MPO connector. Multi-fiber push on (MPO) connectors have gained popularity and are the primary multiple fiber connector used globally for high-speed data and telecom communications networks. These mighty connectors come in an array of options and make life easier while delivering the fast speeds needed for today’s technology. Here, we’ll take a look at what makes the MPO connector so mighty.

 

First, let’s look at the design. MPO connectors are designed to combine many fibers in one connector, which reduces the amount of time needed for splicing and connecting fibers, and also saves space. Each connectors has a key on one side. A “key up” position has the key on top, “key down” position has the key on the bottom. Each fiber in the connector is numbered left to right (P1, P2, etc.) and there is a white dot on the connector body to show where position 1 is located.

 

Originally, MPO connectors were only offered as single-row, 12-fiber connectors, but now there are multiple variations available. Today, there are 8 and 16 single-row options that can then be stacked to create 24, 36 and 72 fiber connectors with multiple precision ferrules. Mating these connectors is made simple through the IEC 61754-7 and EIA/TIA-604-5 (FOCSI 5) standards that ensure all MPO connectors meet performance and mateability requirements. Though, keep in mind that the wider connectors and stacked ferrules are susceptible to greater insertion loss and reflection problems because holding the outer fibers alignment tolerances is challenging.

  
 

Now, let’s look at how these mighty connectors perform. As mentioned above, MPO connectors are a popular choice for high-speed telecom and data communications. They have been utilized in duplex 10 Gig fiber applications as a means to ease cable management, save money, speed-up installation and take-up less space. Twelve-fiber MPO connectors can supply six-10 Gig transmit fibers and six-10 Gig receive fibers. Eight-fiber MPOs are capable of 40 Gig speeds and 24 fibers deliver 100 Gig speeds. With connectors able to be combined and stacked to increase speed and capabilities, MPO connectors can deliver the performance specs to keep up with future increased data requirements.

 

As a diverse connector option with great flexibility and ease of use, MPO connectors are a mighty powerful and mighty fine option for many connecting needs and are sure to remain a viable option in the fiber optic marketplace for a long time to come.

 

Next Generation PoE - What You Need to Know

August 23, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 
What’s better than Power over Ethernet? More Power over Ethernet (PoE), of course – and that is exactly what PoE++ is delivering. PoE++ expands upon the traditional PoE benefits of delivering data and power over a single Ethernet cable, it increases power capabilities and extends PoE’s reach into new industries and applications. Here, we’ll tell you exactly what gives PoE++ those two extras plus signs.
 
First, let’s look at a numbers comparison. The first ratified PoE standard 802.3af supports 15.44 watts of power, but power dissipation usually lowers that number to a reliable 12.95 watts. Then PoE+ was introduced and bolstered power to 30.8 watts with the 802.3at standard, though power dissipation usually takes its toll and lowers power to 25.5 watts. PoE++ (the 802.3bt standard) will be capable of supplying more than 3 times the power of PoE+ with up to 100 watts (Type 4) of DC power and the ability to support 10 Gbps connections.
 
Traditionally, PoE has been used in networking applications. With PoE++, the technology’s reach is extended to include healthcare, point of sale, financial and surveillance industry applications. PoE++ utilizes all four twisted pairs of an Ethernet cable for optimal power transmission. It consists of Mode A and Mode B, and combines them to reach higher voltage levels. Mode A is also referred to as Type A, Type 3 or 4-pair PoE. It is specified for 60W, 50W reliable, and is able to support technology such as access controls, point of sale readers, IP cameras and nurse call devices. Mode B is also known as Type B, Type 4 or higher-power PoE. It is designed for 100 watts of power, 80 watts after power dissipation, and increases the capabilities to also include support of videoconferencing systems, laptops, desktops and televisions.
 
PoE++ is slated to bring more power, more conveniently to more devices than ever before. With all of the speed, convenience and capabilities that this new technology offers, it’s no wonder that PoE++ earned those extra plus marks.

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