Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.


“A Hardware Renaissance”

August 26th, 2012 / in Research News / by Erwin Gianchandani

An interesting article in The New York Times this weekend about the resurgence of hardware prototyping in the Bay Area:

A Nest thermostat prototype is tested at Nest Labs in Palo Alto [image courtesy Nest via The New York Times].In recent years, Silicon Valley seems to have forgotten about silicon. It’s been about dot-coms, Web advertising, social networking and apps for smartphones.

 

But there are signs here that hardware is becoming the new software.

 

It is an expansion of a trend that began a few years ago with the Flip videophone, a sleeper hit, and has recently accelerated with Nest, the smart thermostatLytro, a camera that refocuses a photo after it is taken; and the Pebble smartwatch, a wristwatch that can interact with a smartphone.

 

Although the hardware is not manufactured in Silicon Valley, it is being conceived, designed, prototyped and financed here, usually by small start-ups.

 

What has changed?

 

Each of those steps is speeding up, which cuts the costs and lowers the risks of developing new things.

 

It’s not that software is any less important in Silicon Valley. One reason for the rise of hardware is that it is now so tightly integrated with software. Apple has taught a generation of product designers that an electronic device isn’t much without specially designed software that makes it a joy to use.

 

Instead, any designer now has the ability to quickly experiment with new product designs using low-cost 3-D printers. These printers can churn out objects to make prototypes quickly — a fork, wall hooks, mugs, a luggage clasp — by printing thousands of layers of wafer-thin slices of plastics, ceramics or other materials. Products can be made quickly in contract assembly plants overseas, usually in China.

 

All of this has given designers and engineers a fast-forward button advancing this technological flip-flop…

Read the rest of the article here.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

“A Hardware Renaissance”
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  • hera

    Although the hardware is not manufactured in Silicon Valley, it is being
    conceived, designed, prototyped and financed here, usually by small
    start-ups
    .

  • hera

    Although the hardware is not manufactured in Silicon Valley, it is being
    conceived, designed, prototyped and financed here
    .
    usually by small
    start-ups.