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Interface is our magazine about current and emerging technologies and markets

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Issue 60: Spring 2016

Article summaries:

An engaging idea

Online and mobile purchases have reshaped the retail sector in recent years. But now a new generation of devices is transforming the way consumers interact with retailers and brands. It’s offering companies a new route to engage with customers in their own homes.

Lateral thinking

Monitoring and controlling how much water is produced from oil and gas wells is highly valuable. But existing techniques can be ineffective in wells with horizontal sections. So we’ve developed a novel approach, based on radio-frequency measurements.

Growing pains

The farming industry faces the challenge of having to feed 10 billion people on this planet by 2050. The answer may lie in the clever application of technology. We’ve developed a targeted spray device with the potential to reduce pesticide use by up to 99%.

To buy or not to buy?

Is it best to make or to buy, to develop in-house or to outsource? These are decisions many organisations are faced with when expanding or embarking on a new undertaking – and the best way forward is not always straightforward.

No margin for error

Surgery is one of the most dramatic examples of the importance of getting things ‘right first time’. That’s what makes the latest developments in navigation and visualisation techniques particularly exciting – they have the potential to transform the world of surgery.

A range of options…

We’re all familiar with the fact that there is a mobile phone in everyone’s pocket – and that, increasingly, watches, glasses and thermostats are all connected. But we’re still waiting for a technology to connect these devices directly to cloud, with no mobile phone or Wi-Fi router involved.

A smart choice?

Smart antennas are the future – or are they? Smart antenna technology is a strong candidate for the next generation of wireless communications standards. But validation of system performance may prove to be an impossible task.

Making the right connections

How can manufacturers stay competitive in the fast-moving consumer goods marketplace, where there are so many choices available? How do you build brand loyalty with a generation that demands personalisation and expects a ‘killer’ experience? Connectivity might just be the answer.

Are we nearly there yet?

The experts are confident that wireless networked audio is poised to take off. Yet the majority of consumers are not even really aware of it. So who is right? Is networked audio destined to end 2016 on a high note?

More for less

The future of cancer diagnostics is very promising, thanks to developments such as next-generation sequencing and the ability to detect circulating tumour cells. As our understanding of the underlying science increases, it will lead to more effective and reliable diagnostic tests – and enable patients to get the right treatment as early as possible.

Here’s the thing…

So you’ve decided that this ‘Internet of Things’ we keep hearing about really is a thing – and ‘big data’ isn’t getting any smaller. But what next? How do you go about creating a service for your thing that makes appropriate use of all that data – a service that is, by definition, digital?

Hacking product development

Hackathons originated in the late 1990s as a way of enabling groups of software and hardware experts to collaborate in an open and flexible way to solve problems or generate solutions of common interest. So how relevant are they to the product development process?

Staying ahead of the game

Breakthrough innovation is not something that always happens by accident. In fact, it can happen by design – if companies strike the right balance to create an environment where the culture, processes, organisation and systems encourage staff to push forward with radical ideas.

A catalyst for innovation

Developed healthcare markets face increasing costs, stringent regulations, technological and data complexity, and market saturation. Meanwhile, emerging markets offer strong growth potential but must overcome significant infrastructure, usability, economic and policy challenges. So how can industry capitalise on the emerging markets opportunity?

Learning a lesson

When technology trends emerge that cross different industries and different application areas, it’s often a sign something big is happening. And you can see the signs right now… We’re entering what is already being called the golden age of machine learning.

Issue 59: Autumn 2015

Article summaries:

Drug delivery on the go

The world of drug delivery is changing. Diabetes care is a prime example – small, wearable patch pumps are now giving patients the option of more discreet and flexible treatment. But insulin delivery is only the tip of the iceberg for body-worn devices.

Seeing with new eyes

The ability to recognise the things we see around us is something we take for granted. Replicating this ability in machines could allow us to ‘delegate’ a lot of vision-based tasks to automated machines. But it’s a complex challenge.

Pushing the envelope

Push-to-talk (PTT) technology is a simple, low-cost way of keeping in touch at the push of a button. But traditional PTT systems are limited by range and coverage. How do you design, develop and deliver a truly global PTT communication service?

A vital measure

Corrosion is a major problem – limiting the lifetime of assets and giving rise to safety concerns. By considering magnetic saturation, we’ve created a simple, robust sensor technology that can measure the thickness of steel – without removing any covering on the metal.

Keeping one step ahead

Fitness trackers are everywhere. They are affordable, and fitness tracking features are often included as standard in smart watches and other wearable devices. It’s a very successful idea but one that is also fast becoming commoditised. The question is – what next?

A stitch in time…

Latency is often the poor relation when it comes to the measurement of data speed. Yet getting it wrong can mean losing out to the competition – or even make your product unusable.

Diagnostics on demand

The digitisation of industries like music, photography and printing has unleashed an unprecedented level of accessibility and benefits for all of us. So what could the digital world offer in the diagnostics industry?

Spot the difference

Next time you’re wandering round the electrical section of your favourite store, try to spot the ‘feature that sells’ in the products on the shelf. If you design products for a living, this is a particularly interesting game.

A winning combination

In many industries, the delivery of commercial success is dependent on accurately understanding the impact of technology evolution. It’s why the right mix of business understanding and deep technical insight is crucial.

Less is more

Each year we tackle more than 300 engineering, scientific and design projects – creating cutting-edge technology and intellectual property for clients. Yet we are only 500 people. So what enables us to punch above our weight in the world of product development?

Pick ‘n’ mix

From mayonnaise to paint, emulsions are part of our daily lives. So, what if emulsions could be made just when they are required – with stabilities of hours not months? The answer is a paradigm shift in products, formulation and manufacturing.

In double quick time

Design and develop a wearable consumer electronics device – a standard challenge for our consumer product development team. But there was a snag – the device had to be in the shops before Christmas, which was just nine months away.

Emerging success

Emerging markets are predicted to account for a third of global pharmaceutical spend by the end of next year. Their rapid growth will open up new opportunities for pharma companies – with innovation and technology key to differentiating their offerings.

I am connected, therefore I am

What happens as electronic devices reach further into our lives and the ‘Internet of Things’ becomes simply ‘Everything’? The devices we wear, the gadgets we use and the services we consume define our online presence, whether we like it or not.

An apple a day…

The idea of designing biology to suit our specific needs is not new. Mankind has practised this for millennia, using selective breeding of plants and animals. But how do we make synthetic biology an everyday reality?