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Why hardware innovation?

This blog is about hardware innovation: from idea search to debugging. Today it is not so popular field as pure software innovation. Some people ask "Is it a dead field?"  Some people even  say "We live in the info-age, we do not need to mess with hardware". This situation has an objective reason: unevenness of progress in different areas of technology. And it is temporary.

For many centuries hardware development outpaced software development. Middle of XXth century was a moment of peak of imbalance: means of matter processing were far ahead of means of information processing. This caused problems for hardware: its development faced a limit of out ability to work with information. This was a ground for blossom of information technology for the next 70 years.

Currently, the situation looks basically equalised. But software progress accelerate more and more, while hardware development looks nearly stopped.  This is a consequence of resource mobility and inertia. Money and people tend to move to the areas which were most profitable in near past, even if there is no more need for resource and no more profit. And we face it: hardware standstill start to limit software progress. It just starts now.

In first 20 years of my life computers became 1000 times faster: from MHz to GHz. In the next (last) 20 years, they not only did not make me happy with THz, but did not increased performance almost at all. This is not software, but hardware limit.

Meanwhile, real-time calculations for control of first industrial robots were too complicated for their contemporary computers. Today computer power  allows control of robots with thousands to millions of sensors and actuators. One can imagine a smart conveyor or table with sensor and mechanical actuator at each "pixel". There is a great demand of these bio-inspired "robotic materials" in all areas of industry. Software is good enough, but there is hardware limit.

Again, there are unimaginable amount of  tasks to be solved by swarms of micro and even nano machines, and a plenty of related software tools, but there are obvious hardware limits.

Inevitably, industry faces hardware limits in all areas around us. From medicine to astronomy, from chemistry to machining. And, just as it was with software revolution, new hardware development  would unleash accumulating potential of software in hardware-limited applications.

That is why one should consider hardware innovation. Or, more precisely, integrated, balanced hardware and software innovation, because they both are just two mutually reinforcing parts (for simplicity I often just say "hardware"). And this is far multidimensional and intricate task than pure software application. But this field has its own structure, laws and skills which can be understood and used by everyone.

I am Alexander Olikevich, an inventor with 13+ years of experience in design of innovative solutions in areas of industrial automation, CNC and technology equipment. I have designed  a lot of hardware and software, involving physics, chemistry and technology. I am not native English speaker, thus I am sorry for language errors.

I invite you to the fascinating journey of hardware innovation.  Subscribe to this blog, ask your questions, send your case studies. If you are looking where to start, take a look at the next blog post.


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