Technology Forecast '95

Ever wish for that material that's lighter than a feather, but stronger
than steel? What about an electronics component that could shrink a design in
half? Perhaps you would like to have a fluid-power system that not only performs
flawlessly, but does so at the speed of light? Or how about a software system
that would take all of the guesswork out of design, and do it in half the time?
Would these breakthroughs make your job easier and improve product quality?

Certainly, these innovations won't be available to design engineers in 1995. But, we can give you a glimpse of pioneering products the experts tell us will debut this year in the areas of materials, fluid-power, electronics, computer hardware and software, fasteners, and motion control. You may want to put them on your shopping list.

Electronics: Getting personal

Julie Anne Schofield, Associate Editor

"The electronics business is smoking and it should remain that way in the next year or two." These optimistic words come from Mark V. Rosenker, vice president of public affairs for the Washington, DC-based Electronic Industries Association.

"I think we're the only business in the world that, as we begin to advance new technology and products, the products get better, more reliable, smaller, and cheaper," says Rosenker. "This means we have to sell more at a lower price to grow."

For the rest of the 90s Rosenker sees incredible growth. Electronic products have become integral to people's daily lives, he says, citing the cellular phone as a good example. "We're also going to be seeing the convergence of communications, computers, and entertainment devices as we move into HDTV. Then there'll be new software services, such as interactive television and telecommuting."

Fueling growth in 1995 will be quantum leaps in technology, as well as people becoming desensitized to what such technology can do for them. And this new technology is becoming more user friendly,

One such technology revolves around the digitalization of products. It will provide clearer, more reliable, and easier-to-maintain telephones, audio and video equipment, TVs, and data transmission devices.

Rosenker adds that people now recognize the importance of product areas that at one time were defense-oriented: "Dual-use capabilities are forcing economies of scale within our defense community and spilling over into the commercial world. These changes will be incredibly important to the future of our industry and our national security efforts."

Also in 1995: The Battle of the RISC chips. High-end reduced-instruction-set-computing microprocessors from such companies as Digital Equipment Corp, MIPS, SPARC, and IBM will go neck-and-neck for new server, high-end PC, workstation, and embedded designs.

Computers: More power, less cost

Dramatic increases in computing power witnessed over the last year show no sign of abating in 1995, industry analysts say--allowing ever-more-complicated engineering problems to be solved on the desktop. And, engineers are likely to see hardware prices keep declining even as the capabilities of their desktop systems soar.

Raw processing speed should again roughly double in 1995 compared to chips unveiled 12 to 18 months ago. IBM, for example, outlined such plans for its PowerPC line,


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