I have been bugging a new friend, Neil, whom I was introduced to by genebren but whom I had never met face to face to let me know when his company would be attending an electronics show somewhere near my home. Neil is the founder and inspiration behind the company Tag-Connect out of San Fancisco. Neil has started a revolution in board connectors that simplify and economize on space and board cost without sacrificing connection integrity. Neil is also the person who is using his company and influence to get the word out on my Non-Slip meter probes. When Neil informed me that he would be coming to the Embedded Systems Conference in Minneapolis I immediately made plans to go to the show and meet him.
I have never been to an electronics show before but having attended many dental equipment shows I had a pretty good idea what to expect. Apparently the ECS event is held in conjunction with 4 other specialty shows all with related focus. Besides the Embedded Systems Conference there was also Medical Design and Manufacturing, Automated Technology, Plastec Minneapolis, and Minn PACK. The five groups completely filled the Minneapolis convention center main showroom area with booths, Tech forums, different conference educational presentations and even a track for a VSI Labs self driving car.
Personally I had three missions in mind for the day. First I wanted to meet Neil and his wife Takako to thank them for all they have done to take the non-slip probe adapters all over the world to shows as well as featuring them on their website. Secondly I wanted to go around and talk to people to see if I could find other techs that might have an interest in the probes, and finally I just wanted to see all the fascinating technology.
My first stop was at Neil's booth where he had a display of all the interesting and novel ways he had designed to save space and money for his customers with respect to connecting programming and data lines to circuit boards. Here is a picture of Neil's booth at the show.
Neil had a new connection product that he had just developed that makes an edge connection to a circuit board but uses virtually no space on the board. I asked Neil to give me a short demonstration so that I could share it with my friends on element 14. Here is a video of Neil's presentation:
After learning more about Tag-Connect's line of connection solutions I started my 3 hour walk through the showroom. It is impossible to tell you about all the wonderful and interesting technologies that were on display. There were a lot of companies with automated robot technologies for use in assembly lines and parts placement.
The diversity of the technology on display was quite impressive. Everything was here from a driver-less car to specialized plastic tubing for catheters. I continued to look for electronics related booths so that I could show and get opinions from the techs in the booths about the non-slip probes. A General Manager from Siglent had an open mind and took the time to look at my probes and offered to forward a sample to his technical team. I gave him Neil's booth number as he is in charge of the marketing.
There weren't very many people in this sea of technology however that I could find who had actually ever taken a multimeter probe in hand and tested something on a circuit board. My wife who had taken the time to read the rules for show attendees called to my attention that I was not suppose to be showing things (my probes) from the customer side of the booths. It did not stop me as I continued my walk but I was as courteous and respectful as I could be of the time of the people I talked to. Along the way I took a few more pictures of the show and a couple of short videos.
One booth in particular caught my eye as it was a company that specialized in sensors for the biomedical industry. Among the sensors displayed were load cells and force sensors, Pressure sensors, bubble / air in line sensors/ Flow Meter Sensors, Liquid level, and a variety of custom sensors.
I remembered how over the years we on element 14 have fielded questions about measuring pressures, flow rates of liquids, and other physical aspects of mechanical systems. Marc Savoie was kind enough to take me on a tour of some of the different strain gauges. One force gauge demo caught my eye. Marc was explaining how it was tied into a circuit that would transmit the data to any device capable of receiving bluetooth. When I looked more closely I noticed that the bluetooth circuit was attached to an Arduino Uno. The funny thing was that the only part of the UNO that was being used was its power supply connections. Perhaps the first time I have seen an Uno being used strictly as a power supply and regulator.
In every booth that I stopped and looked there was very expensive medical and military grade equipment. I felt a lot like a guy with a moped budget browsing the showroom of a Ferrari Dealership. Fortunately the show wasn't that crowded and even when I explained that I was just a curious old guy who liked technology they still took the time to talk to me and show me their little wonders of technology. It was really fun.
Here is a video of a machine that made me laugh:
In the end I had made contact with a couple of companies that would be able to help me in the future with manufacturing my non-slip probes should I ever want to move past doing them myself on the drill press in the basement. I had seen some of the front line automation and medical technologies that are currently available and I had had a lot of fun. This show was inspiring and I am very happy that Neil and Takako invited me to attend.