Category Archives: Devices

A phone that can do nothing

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It’s no secret technology becomes more and more present in our lives with each passing year. It seems almost impossible to disconnect from the world, and many feel exhausted and overwhelmed by the constant stream of information bombarding them. As a result, minimalist solutions gain popularity as means of minimizing the information noise. In my previous post, I took a closer look at futuristic devices for meditation, and this time I’ll share my opinion about a somewhat eccentric phone model.  

In 2019, Michał Kiciński (who is also one of the founders of CD Projekt) came forward with an unusual idea for a mobile phone that goes in the exact opposite direction than most smartphones we know. 

Mudita Pure takes us back in time to when the functions of phones were limited. What we are offered is a small cell phone with an old-school alphanumeric keyboard, an E-Ink screen with 16 shades of gray, and 600×480 pixels. Apps were also brought down to the minimum, and none uses the internet. Some of the functions we are left with are a calculator, a music player, an alarm, a calendar, a flashlight, a voice recorder, and a meditation app with a timer and inspirational quotes. That’s correct – there’s no camera either. Additionally, we are given 16GB of memory, a headphone jack, and a USB C input. 

To make things even further, we can cut off the phone from the mobile network entirely, only receive calls and text messages or just text messages (and still not more often than every half hour) with just one button. 

To make dreams reality, Michał Kiciński started a campaign on Kickstarter, which raised $100,000 in just the first 24 hours – all in all, raising over 1.5 million PLN for the project.

The beginnings were great, but the lucky streak didn’t last. 

The first phones were supposed to be delivered to those who bought them on pre-sale, in the fall of 2020, however, it quickly became clear that the company would not be able to meet the original deadline. The lockdown, global supply chain paralysis, and general pandemic chaos were certainly not without fault. On the other hand, even at an early stage, Mudita Pure experienced production problems, so some suspect the culprit was “ambition over the possibility.” At first, the company encountered problems with a case design, but it soon became apparent that the company’s goal for Pure to meet the IP54 water- and the dust-proof standard was impossible to achieve on a phone with physical buttons. Mudita announced the need to lower the standard to IP30 or IP42. 

Between production problems and the slow development of the operating system, the release of the Mudita Pure was constantly postponed. It went from early 2021 to fall. Finally, in early October 2021, the situation was at last brought under control. Mudita released a video in which the director of engineering, announced that the project had entered its final phase and mass production was set to begin on November 15th. It apparently happened, as, on November 30th, the first orders went to buyers who had purchased them on Kickstarter.

The only thing I can really praise Mudita Pure for, are the relatively regular progress reports that can be read on the blog. Thanks to it, the company has managed to avoid being called a fraud, but it undoubtedly deserves harsh criticism for the delay. Also, the least patient buyers could ask for a refund any time, while those who have been waiting for the phone the longest got a free phone case. 

Mudita Pure enchanted people by the concept of a “phone that can do nothing”, however, as the producer advertises, we pay for something more than just a cell phone – this something is the ability to function outside the Internet. For some – especially the wealthy and seeking peace of mind – this can be of great value. 

The phone costs 1449 PLN (1159 PLN in pre-order), and in my opinion, that’s a rather high price for a device that’s so useless, because for this price we can buy a used iPhone X, or save money and buy a standard cell phone with an alphanumeric keypad. 

Sources:

https://mudita.com/products/phones/mudita-pure/

Apple Watch Series 8 – too high expectations

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In 2015, undoubtedly among fans of the Apple brand, but not only, there was an increase in the commotion caused by the release of the company’s first smartwatch. I owned one of them myself! Innovative, waterproof, measuring your heart rate, equipped with a flashlight, wi-fi, wireless charging, personalized clock face, and above all connected to your iPhone so that you can receive notifications from your phone through your watch, as well as the weather, steps taken, activity, music controls and many other watch-specific applications available with interchangeable bands in various colours.

Along with the production of the next series, producers enriched Apple Watches with new functions. Among other things, GPS, Bluetooth, SOS alarm, microphone, speaker, payment functions and compass. And also cooperation with Nike in new types of sports, silicone, leather, braided or steel bands. The number of new functions, however, did not change radically from model to model, one of them caused a scandal – the electrocardiography function and arrhythmia notification, which was only available to users in the United States due to the lack of appropriate medical licenses. This clearly disappointed customers, because due to the lack of this function, the previous series did not differ much from the newest one. With time, however, the company managed to reach other countries one by one.

The next, eighth edition of the smartwatch, although it does not even have a release date yet, has already aroused the emotions of future buyers. So far, in the previous series, there have been no changes in the appearance of the watch, but according to speculations and reports of people working on it, it is to be larger and have flat edges for the first time, and also be available in a third variant – for use in extreme conditions. There were also suspicions that “Apple Watch Series 8 will work under the control of a new operating system. This year’s models have watchOS 8 installed, which was presented by the manufacturer during the WWDC 2021 conference in June. So we can expect more detailed information about the system of new watches in May or June 2022. “

However, these rumours may turn out to be untrue, as well as about the new features of watches – measuring body temperature, hydration level, blood pressure, glucose monitoring and blood oxygenation for sleep apnea, which disappointed customers again.

“Don’t expect any of these soon, though. Body temperature was on this year’s roadmap, but chatter about it has slowed down recently. Blood pressure is at least two to three years away, while I wouldn’t be surprised if glucose monitoring doesn’t land until later in the second half of the decade.”

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman

Although Apple Watch is currently the most popular smartwatch on the market, but the frequent release of new products without major changes from the previous model and publicizing their premiere on unreal rumours will not satisfy its customers.

Sources:

https://www.theverge.com/2022/1/10/22876324/apple-watch-series-8-body-temperature-smartwatch

https://www.pcworld.pl/news/Apple-Watch-Series-8-data-premiery-cena-ciekawostki-przecieki-10-01-2022,433903.html

https://www.apple.com/pl/watchos/watchos-8/

https://support.apple.com/kb/SP745?viewlocale=pl_PL&locale=pl_PL

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All James Bond’s phones from the Daniel Craig era

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The first James Bond movie debuted in 1962 and ever since the entire franchise earned the title of the 4th world’s most profitable and built a loyal fan base worldwide. For 60(!) years, movie fans have been excitedly waiting to see the next adventures of the legendary spy. They delighted the audience with suspenseful action scenes, cinematography, and great acting. But that is not all that the series can offer us. Some of the most recognizable attributes of James Bond are his incredible high-tech gadgets, thanks to which he can get out of almost any trouble. So many people were interested in them that there’s even a Wikipedia page listing all of them!

The ‘era’ I resonate the most with is the era of Daniel Craig, and that’s why I’d like to present a very subjective evaluation of all the phones that James Bond used in the last five movies. 

1. Casino Royale (2006) is undeniably my favorite part. In his debut role as an agent on Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Daniel Craig was equipped with Sony Ericsson K800i. What stands out about this model is that it was labeled as a camera – justifiably though. It had 3.2 Megapixel resolution, Autofocus and, Xenon Flash for worse light, and BestPic (function for capturing moving objects). The model was also provided with 3G data transfer, which allowed users to send images instantly. For me, the cherry on top is the fact that the model came with a full movie trailer, James Bond wallpapers, and ringtones.

2. In 007 Quantum of Solace (2008), James Bond uses Sony Ericsson phone again – C902 Cyber-shot in Titanium silver edition. This phone was one of the first on the market that offered a Face Detection feature (which came in handy for Bond in the movie)! Like in the previous one, the camera of this model was one of its best features – it had a 5MP camera, ‘slide-out’ lens cover, illuminated by touch icons to access settings, Photoflash, Autofocus, and BestPic. This model was from a limited edition, which included a memory card with a 007-themed game (as well as some other 007 bonuses), so I’ll give Sony a ‘+’ for this.

3. In Skyfall (2012) James Bond uses a Sony Xperia T. Well, probably. It is not clear if the model released and advertised by Sony as The Bond Phone is the same as the one used in the movie because it was available in black, but in the movie, the phone seemed to be silver. Anyway, it was a huge upgrade for Bond – his first smartphone! This model sported a 13 Megapixel HD camera, 1080p HD video recording, and 4.6” HD Reality Display. While I think Skyfall was a decent movie, the only thing Bond used the phone for was… texting. Just seems like a lost opportunity, considering that in the two previous parts, he actually used the best features of the models.

4. In Spectre (2015), we can notice Sony Xperia Z5. There’s not much that can surprise us here anymore. The model was equipped with 23 Megapixel camera, was water- dust- and scratch-resistant (the latter only applies to the display, obviously), and 32GB storage. Long story short, that phone was great (although some critics said that Xperias are not good enough for James Bond), but then again – Bond only used it for one phone call.

5. Unfortunately, in No Time To Die (2021), Daniel Craig uses a Nokia prototype. 

Sources:

https://www.techradar.com/reviews/phones/mobile-phones/sony-ericsson-k800i-87823/review

https://www.jamesbondlifestyle.com

https://www.t3.com/features/james-bond-phone

The return of folded phones – kitsch or an improved hit from years ago?

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What comes to your mind when you hear the name “Motorola“? If you immediately saw the iconic flip phone from this company in front of your eyes, you’ve come to the right place!

Some of us still remember or even used the iconic Razr series phones. In the early 2000s, everyone dreamed of the V3, from black to white through the entire range of colours on offer. The then celebrities only showed up with this phone model. Even the Dolce&Gabbana brand has established cooperation with Motorola by releasing a limited series of gold models with their engraving, which is now a dream of many collectors.  

Motorola owed its success to its innovative design for those times. Most of the phones on the market at that time were heavy, plastic, thick and not so attractive. Motorola, on the other hand, focused on the slimness of the model, lightness and the whole made of metal, which added to its elegance. Its thickness was only 13.9 mm! Maybe today it does not impress anyone looking at the slimness of today’s smartphones, but on average phones 20 years ago were twice as thick! For example, the most popular Nokia 2600 model at that time was 20.3 mm thick.

However, after Steve Jobs introduced the world the first generation of the iPhone in 2007, people stopped being delighted with Motorola as before. The Razr phones were still on sale, but Motorola did not generate as much revenue as before. And then for the next few years it “disappeared from the market” and could not boast of any hit device.

After many years, Motorola has recently hit their strength again. They tried to bring the flip phone to the market again in a new, modernized version. The first two models announced in 2019 turned out to be a flop, the quality did not meet the expectations of customers at a very high price. However, according to reports from the general manager of the Lenovo Mobile Business Group in China – Chen Jin, who currently deals with the Motorola smartphone department, we can expect a breakthrough model in 2022. Time will verify whether the model will turn out to be another flop, or finally, Motorola will show something innovative after so many years and return to the success of the early 2000s.

Back to November 14, 2019

Launched as the industry’s first foldable vertical screen smartphone, Motorola’s new Razr has once again led the industry in innovation.

The star orbit hinge technology independently developed by the Lenovo Research Institute was the world’s only smooth, wrinkle-free hinge technology in mass production at that time.

I think innovation is always the driving force of this industry.

I hope that instead of salivating, we will do more, including silently preparing for the third generation of foldable screen mobile phones Razr: more advanced chip computing power, better human-machine interface and, of course, a more attractive appearance.

This product, we will not give up the first list in the Chinese market!

Chen Jin

Sources:

https://www.theverge.com/2021/12/27/22855629/motorola-razr-folding-phone-third-generation-processor-interface-appearance

https://deluxe.trojmiasto.pl/Motorola-Razr-2020-opinie-cena-test-n142101.html

https://komorkomania.pl/38027,motorola-razr-v3-czyli-najpopularniejsza-klapka-nha-swiecie-podroz-w-czasie

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A high-tech take on an ancient practice?

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LightVision headset

Meditation is a buzzword – I dare to say everyone has heard of it or knows someone who meditates.

…But this practice has been known for ages, so why is it suddenly trending? 

Reasons for it, apart from the spiritual and religious ones, are numerous studies that proved meditation to be beneficial to mental and physical health. It is said to not only improve concentration, reduce stress, and help in grounding but also help in managing symptoms of anxiety, depression, heart diseases, and addiction recovery. Among other things, meditation was pronounced the fastest-growing health trend in the US in 2021!

In present times, a considerable number of people suffer from various civilization diseases, which cause them to seek help wherever they can. Many are eager to try a more holistic approach but are quickly discouraged because they don’t know how to do it, find it hard to relax, or can’t see results fast enough. 

To facilitate these problems LAYER, and Resonate joined powers to create the LightVision meditation headset. Resonate is a startup offering a system that includes a chair and matching ottoman, headset, headphones, and a 6-month subscription to the content library, that includes guided meditations and exercises to make relaxing easier. 

LightVision is said to induce a deep meditative state, regardless of the user experience level, in just 20 minutes. The headset uses the cutting-edge science of neural entrainment to re-introduce the meditative experience. The headset uses vibration, sound, and light to change the frequency and pattern of thoughts. The LED light matrix uses videos of natural occurrences such as crops bending in the wind and translates them into sequences of biomorphic patterns. Those, thanks to the LED lights, are visible through eyelids and directly change brain activity, causing a change in frequency. What’s more, when in use, the lights illuminate the user’s face to signal not to disturb them.

LightVision headset signals when to not disturb

Let’s not forget the design executed by LAYER. Its goal was to soften the tech side, which might not encourage relaxing. It was achieved by wrapping everything in soft fabric from the outside. LightVision stands out with a tasteful, contemporary design and appeals to consumers who are ready for such a futuristic take on the ancient practice. The result gives us exactly what the company intended – 

„tech accessory closer to a piece of fashion.” 

LAYER

While I think it’s mind-blowing, how we can hack our brains with technology, I also think I would not use it. It is not my goal to come off as condescending, but for me, meditation is something, that should require “some” effort and a learning curve from a person, but then again, I consider it a part of my spiritual practice. I know that not everyone wants to link meditation to their belief system, so I think Resonate system will be perfect for those who just want to benefit from it while having an in-home, self-care experience.

This leads me to the conclusion, that Resonate picked its target audience very well. To my understanding, it’s directed to people who lead hectic lives (maybe have stressful high-power jobs), want to see the results immediately, and have above-average income.

The whole set costs $2,999 but is offered with a “$500“ discount when reserved online, which is tricky because the reservation alone costs $299, so it brings the total cost to $2798 instead of $2,499 as promised. 

The systems are yet to become available to ordinary, private consumers, but Resonate has announced, that the first units will be ready for shipping in early 2022. 

Sources:

https://design-milk.com/layer-x-resonate-lightvision-meditates-upon-the-state-of-calm/

https://weresonate.com

https://layerdesign.com/project/meditation-remastered/#top-page

https://www.designboom.com/design/layer-resonate-lightvision-meditation-headset-12-07-2021/

https://hiconsumption.com/resonate-layer-design-lightvision-headset/

Are smart homes just an idealized reality?

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NicoElNino / Shutterstock

Each of us has heard about the idea of a modern and intelligent home. Self-closing doors, gates, curtains, lights that turn off when you clap your hands, your favourite song plays after saying its title, one-touch temperature control throughout the house, sensors and tons of other possibilities. Is all this possible or is it just an idealized reality?

Many of the tech companies, instead of focusing on common development and innovative solutions to smart homes for all of them and consumers, create solutions that compete with each other.  For example, devices manufactured by Apple for HomeKit are based on a different system and operation than devices distributed by Amazon such as Alexa (Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, Cloud or Bluetooth). Which discourages consumers from using a smart home, because it takes too much time and effort to figure out which devices are compatible with each other and work in conjunction with each other, and eventually give up the whole solution.

“That’s where Matter comes in.”

What is Matter? Previously called Connected Home over IP – CHIP for short is a smart home device system. The operating system is based on the possibility of free communication between technological devices at home to increase security and efficiency of use in everyday life. Over the years, the idea has been joined by corporate giants such as Apple, Amazon, Google, Samsung and also smaller companies.

https://www.golem.de/news/smart-home-google-bringt-matter-auf-alle-nest-geraete-und-android-2105-156695.html

“The smart home should be a natural evolution of our homes, bringing better appliances, better systems, better experiences.”

Matter wants to meet the expectations of an ideal smart home, all devices designed by the companies participating in the project are to interact with each other without any problems using the application. And all this is coming soon! At the end of 2022, the first devices with their certificate will be introduced. What distinguishes Matter from previous efforts to create a smart home is technology based on IP technology, which means that the solution they use is designed to provide pipelines and language for communication between devices without the need for constant internet access.

It will be a completely different, modern and, above all, effective solution for creating a smart home, meaning development for Google Home, HomeKit and many others.

https://oiot.pl/google-home-gotowe-na-matter

Sources:

https://www.theverge.com/22787729/matter-smart-home-standard-apple-amazon-google

https://www.theverge.com/22832127/matter-smart-home-products-thread-wifi-explainer

https://mojmac.pl/2021/10/27/czy-matter-traci-na-znaczeniu-nowy-standard-smart-home-w-opalach/amp/

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3D printed Space Rockets and Porsche’s investment in them

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Recently, Porsche has invested in a German startup called Isar Aerospace, which is working on a lightweight launch vehicle with 3D printed parts, including key propulsion components. The first launch is scheduled for 2022.

Geld für Isar Aerospace: Porsche SE investiert in Raketen ...


German journalists are excited to call the startup a competitor to SpaceX, but at present Isar Aerospace is focused on another segment of the aerospace market: launching relatively small satellites using inexpensive light launch vehicles. The main competitor in this niche is the U.S.-New Zealand company Rocket Lab, which has been successfully launching commercial payloads since 2018 (its first partially successful launch dates back to 2017). The company also uses 3D-printed engines. Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket can launch up to 200 kg into sun-synchronous orbit. Isar Aerospace’s Spectrum launch vehicle will be more powerful and can deliver up to 700 kg of cargo to the same altitude. This would not be enough to launch a car into space, as SpaceX once did, but would certainly be acceptable for commercial and research satellites.

Porsche вложилась в космический стартап с 3D-печатными ракетами


The first stage of the 27-meter-high launch vehicle will use nine Aquilla SL engines, while the second stage will use only one Aquilla VAC engine. The company plans to produce up to 80% of the components in-house using additive technologies, with a focus on 3D metal printing. The startup uses laser powder 3D printers from Electro-Optical Systems (EOS GmbH). The devices are used to produce combustion chambers and nozzles.


Isar Aerospace has already received more than $180 million. In addition to Porsche, investors include the venture arm of Airbus and Bülent Altan, a former SpaceX engineer who led a team of avionics engineers for Falcon rockets and Dragon spacecraft. In addition, the startup is supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the German Aerospace Center after winning the Boost! competition, which aimed to improve the state of private space in Europe.

Porsche investiert in Raketen-Start-up Isar Aerospace ...

The place is based in Munich and plans to use the Andøya Rocket Range in Norway for launches. It may be too far north, but it is good for launches into polar or near-polar orbits. Funds will go in part to research the reusability of rockets. Reusable launch systems are the current trend: Blue Origin, SpaceX and the aforementioned Rocket Lab are actively pursuing the technology. The cost of the launch has not yet been announced. For example, the cost of launching one Electron vehicle is about 7.5 dollars.

Links:

https://www.porsche-se.com/en/news/press-releases/details/news/detail/News/porsche-se-investiert-in-raketentechnologie-start-up-isar-aerospace

https://www.iflscience.com/space/porsche-enters-space-race-investing-start-up/

https://www.assignmentpoint.com/science/astronomy/porsche-enters-space-race-by-investing-in-rocket-start-up.html

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The best thing Apple has done for the environment?

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https://www.macworld.co.uk/cmsdata/features/3599252/how-to-fix-a-cracked-iphone-or-ipad-screen-main3_thumb800.png

Whoever has not seen someone with a shattered iPhone screen should cast the first stone. I, myself, own an iPhone with a broken screen. Why is it such a frequent sight, though? One might say it is because Apple products are widely popular, thus a higher chance of seeing someone with an iPhone in general, but it does not answer the question entirely. 

Apple is known among its users and tech enthusiasts for its strict policy regarding the repairs of its products. They are officially only available in certified service locations which use genuine parts and tools and in which workers have completed proper training to provide the best aid. It seems reasonable, am I right? In theory – yes, in practice – not really. 

The costs of those repairs often surpass the value of the device on the second-hand market, so it makes more sense to invest in a new model rather than repair the old one. The other option is relying on the services of third-party technicians, who use parts purchased from non-certified suppliers, and which, I feel obligated to mention, results in immediate loss of warranty. 

A lot of criticism has poured down on Apple throughout the years, not only because users felt tricked into buying new models but because of environmental issues. One poll conducted in the UK by YouGov showed that 30% of Brits throw away devices, which repairs are unprofitable or impossible for some reason. 

Electronic waste, however, is a much more serious problem than many could suspect, and for this very cause, the EU is determined to fight against it. So far, repairability laws specify that only certain electronic goods need to be repairable for at least ten years – it includes washing machines, refrigerators, etc. however, the next step aims to include devices like smartphones and laptops. 

In the US in July of 2021, the Biden administration released an executive order to address “unfair anticompetitive restrictions on third-party repair or self-repair of items” which is considered the catalyst of the most recent Apple decision. 

“unfair anticompetitive restrictions on third-party repair or self-repair of items”

Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy

In Mid-November of 2021, the company has announced its new Self Service Repair program in response to the fast-moving changes on the right-to-repair front. It will allow users to perform at-home repairs using original parts and tools sold via the Apple Self Service Repair Online Store, which will launch at the beginning of the following year. At first, it will only be available in the US and exclusively for iPhone 12 and iPhone 13, but Apple has a bold plan to expand the program to other markets and to cover other device models, all this in 2022. 

How will this process look? 

All at-home repairs will start with the consumer defining the issue using the repair manual and determining whether they will be able to fix the problem by themselves. If they feel strongly about their chances, the next step will be ordering necessary parts from the Apple Self Service Repair Online Store and performing the repair once they arrive.

On the one hand, many are positively surprised by the conglomerate’s decision because it is a potentially crucial turning point for the technology lifecycle as we know it. Besides becoming more consumer-friendly, it will extend the lifespan and durability of our devices, which might reshape technology trends. On the other hand, no matter how easy it may seem, tinkering with any electronic device requires some level of knowledge, which leads me to believe that many users will continue to rely on the expertise and skills of the professionals for this very reason.

Sources:

https://www.ft.com/content/c69b207d-68f4-46a3-b54b-c7177e14fe60

https://www.techrepublic.com/article/apple-decides-you-should-be-able-to-repair-your-own-device-after-all/

https://www.techrepublic.com/article/right-to-repair-moves-forward-for-your-broken-devices-but-campaigners-want-to-go-much-further/

https://www.techrepublic.com/article/broke-your-smartphone-right-to-repair-rules-just-took-another-step-forward/

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/07/09/executive-order-on-promoting-competition-in-the-american-economy/

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2019/640158/EPRS_BRI(2019)640158_EN.pdf

https://docs.cdn.yougov.com/ixz3tlj5a6/TheRestartProject_RightToRepair_211011_W.pdf

“Solar panels can generate more electricity if to make them turn”

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Idea that made an ordinary engineer a millionaire.

American entrepreneur Ron Corio has made a multibillion-dollar business in the production of trackers for solar panels.

Trackers – the mechanisms that move the panel towards the sun throughout the day, turned out to be a real gold mine. For decades, improving the devices that were once interesting to people, Ron Corio, provided his company with a capitalization of $4.6b.

Early in 1985 company named Wattsun Corporation, which developed low-cost solar “flat plates” needed a solution to place it in different angles. Ron Corio was the man for the job that started developing multi-tilt angle and eventually purchase shares of Wattsun in 1989, forming Array Technologies, Inc. as the world’s first solar tracking manufacturer in 1992.

The trackers were installed worldwide, but due to the market occupied by coal and other resources with huge deposits, the sun did not cause much demand. However, after the 2000s solar energy began to become a reality and Array started to grow significantly, winning tenders and constantly maximizing land occupancy.

Array’s main product is the DuraTrack system, which rotates photovoltaic panels on a single north-south axis throughout the day to follow the sun. Large-scale solar energy projects are usually arranged in consecutive ” rows “that form an”array”. The array can have dozens of rows with more than 100 solar panels in each row.

At the moment, Array Technologies is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of ground-mounted systems used in the solar energy business. Trackers increase the initial cost of a solar project but allow the panels to generate more energy compared to a fixed-tilt mounting system. Over the life of the project, this results in significantly lower level energy costs.

Sources:

https://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/news/2020/10/15/array-technologies-closes-

https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/array-technologies

https://ir.arraytechinc.com/

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Are chips “The New Oil”? A global shortage of chips

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Did you know that we are currently facing a global chips shortage? The crisis came about due to the massive demand for electronic components triggered by the pandemic, factories downtime, production underestimation, and supply chain failure. Whoever produces the chips, holds all the power – in this case the Taiwanese manufacturer TSMC seems to be a ruler.

The company Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co may seem unfamiliar to you, but it is more than sure that their products are used by you every single day. TSMC is the world’s largest chip manufacturer that produces parts for major electronics and automotive companies, including Apple (which is reckoned to constitute 25% of TSMC’s income [1]).

Source: https://www.eetasia.com/tsmc-will-raise-to-expand-capacity-amid-chip-shortages/

Chips are not only a common component of consumer electronics such as smartphones, computers, or smart appliances, but they are also required for automotive electronic systems, which are expected to account for more than 50% of the total production cost of a car by 2030[2]. For comparison, in 2010 this figure comprised 35% while in the 1970s, 5%. New cars need more processors, which in other words means – more and more chips.

In fact, it is the automotive industry that has been inflicted the most during the last months. Major players on the market such as Volkswagen, Toyota, Renault, General Motors, and Honda had been forced to hold back production due to the lack of components. A shortage in the microprocessor industry is expected to slash Ford’s profit by $2.5 billion this year and GM’s profit by $2 billion[3].

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-05/chip-shortage-spirals-beyond-cars-to-phones-and-game-consoles

The crisis has also hit the electronics industry. Sony has announced that it is unable to manufacture the number of PS5 consoles planned for this year, just like Samsung which in turn postponed the release of its new version of the Galaxy Note smartphone. All this because of chips shortage. But how did such situation even come about?

During the outbreak of the pandemic, many companies decided to cancel chip orders due to a significant drop in demand for products such as cars. It was assumed that the demand would not increase quickly. In response to the situation, chip manufacturers decided to change their sales orientation to other industries. At a time when demand picked up again, motor companies were left holding the bag as microprocessor manufacturers had their hands already full with other orders. Another aspect is also the production bottleneck which lead to the supply chain destabilization. The global production of chips is based on 3-4 companies only, including the afore-mentioned TSMC, which is responsible for about 70% world’s production of technologically advanced microprocessors.[3]

TMSC’s goal is to maintain its position and increase its production capacity. For this purpose, the company announced an investment of $100 billion. It is worth mentioning however, that the reliance of global electronics behemoths on the goods of a single Taiwanese firm is an example of the negative consequences of excessive production outsourcing.

[1]https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/archives/2021/03/09/2003753477

[2]https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/tw/Documents/technology-media-telecommunications/tw-semiconductor-report-EN.pdf

[3]https://cyfrowa.rp.pl/globalne-interesy/61408-dramat-z-czipami-pandemia-sankcje-i-wielka-pomylka