All About Flex: Three Emerging Trends That You Can Bet On


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Market Demand: Businesses, government agencies and everyday consumers are keenly aware of the effects of hacking. Few are questioning the need (or expense) for cyber security. Money has been pouring into this industry for a several years now and many businesses have already allocated a significant amount of their budget to cyber security. The urgency is probably moderate to high for many businesses. If, during 2016, a major terrorist hacking incident shuts down a power grid (for example), the urgency will move to extreme.

Issues: Unfortunately, hackers have been able to keep up with most new security enhancements. Also, some of the U.S. power grid infrastructures have gapping security holes and obsolete systems that need to be replaced or significantly upgraded. The U.S. government has some of the best resources in the world for going on the offensive to hack into other systems; however conventional wisdom suggests it is extremely weak in defense. What is truly needed is a security architecture system that will “self-adapt” to the many types of attacks that are generated.

Green Energy

On December 12, 2015 negotiators from 196 countries approved a landmark agreement that sets the course for dramatically reducing greenhouse gases. This agreement implies dramatic changes are on the horizon in the way we use fossil fuels, significant reductions are occurring and the trend is obvious. While no single technology or energy source will be used to replace fossil fuel, a number of sources are available and having an impact. These will be further enhanced with technology.

One example is hydrogen: Hydrogen fuel is one alternative being evaluated for automotive applications[4]. All the major automotive companies have developed hydrogen fuel cell cars. Some are currently operating in California. Hydrogen is a renewable energy source and does not emit greenhouse gas. Italy has built a hydrogen fueled power plant[5].

Market Demand: Hybrid cars have had a fair amount of demand in the U.S., but conventional automobiles are currently vastly outselling hybrids. Government regulation may force the market but regardless, the technology is viable. Trajectory suggests this will be an important emerging technology in the foreseeable future.

Issues: Changing from fossil fuels to other energy forms has huge implications on both our economy and infrastructure. Oil companies have huge clout with Congress and there is sure to be resistance to enacting any regulation that hurts oil companies. The cost to implement an infrastructure to support hydrogen fuel cell cars, or 100% electric cars, across the U.S. will be significant. Even environmentalists disagree on benefits among the various alternative energy sources such as nuclear, hydrogen, solar, wind or a host of others.

Summary

Regardless of which new technologies emerge in the near future, it is hard to imagine flexible circuits will not play a significant role in the technology transformations. Too many useful features are inherent with this adaptable product technology. Battery interconnects use flexible circuits in new automotive designs, taking advantage of light weight. Fingerprint sensors improve computer security using low profile and high density flexible circuits. The list goes on…

Flexible circuits are light weight, require minimal space, can be bent into “origami” shapes for adoption to a wide range of applications. These utilitarian features give electronic designers endless options for the new and exciting products that will soon become part of our everyday life.

1. CNN Money

2. www.transportation.gov

3. www.wsj.com

4. U.S. Dept. of Energy

5. AENews

Dave Becker is vice president of sales and marketing at All Flex Flexible Circuits LLC.

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