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22 The PCB Design Magazine • January 2015 feature coulmn Editor Andy Shaughnessy kindly offered me the chance to write a column looking ahead at 2015. Predicting the future—that's a tall order. But as I write this in mid-December, the news feeds trumpet that the USA is opening a new chapter in ties with Cuba, and that the price of oil is at $55 and headed south. Really? Did anyone see that coming? What happened to "peak oil?" I won't even try to go into why. As one UK news channel put it, it's a case of "Pick your conspiracy theory." Needless to say, predicting the future is a tough call, and the most likely scenario is the one you may least expect. Having said all that, in our electronic world there does seem to be relentless trends towards increasing electronic content in all we see, hear, touch and do. I predict that trend (with the pos- sible exception of the rumour that some celebri- ties are planning to go retro, with low or no tech in their lives) of increasing electronics in all we experience will continue. From the Crystal Ball Electronica 2014 is still fresh in my mind, and notable from a Polar perspective is the in - creasing interest in signal integrity tools shown by the automotive sector. At one time a com- modity and low-tech arena, electronics is in- creasingly deployed for active and passive safety and to further extract the maximum energy from the minimum amount of fuel. That may seem less relevant given the plunge in oil prices, but the old caveat that accompanies most invest- ments—"the price of oil may go up just as easily and unexpectedly as it went down"—means the automotive desire for efficiency and the need to give the combustion engine a helping (electron- ic) hand is likely to continue. Electronic displays are popping up all over the place, with some replacing analog instru- mentation completely with a flat panel display, and I also note that Jaguar are toying with us- ing displays on vehicle A and B pillars, directly connected to external cameras to give the driver a full 360-degree view of the road, making the pillars "virtually transparent." Increasingly high- speed communications such as CAN bus are used to control vehicle subsystems driving automo- tive electronics designers into the high-speed arena. Signaling speed, low cost and durability in harsh environments all come into play. Not only in passenger automotive, but the intensive spread of control systems is also apparent in low- by Martyn gaudion PolAr InSTruMenTS THE PuLSE The Road Ahead: 2015 and Beyond

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