Let’s Talk About Standards

I don’t think there was a single European who did not applaud the legislation last year to standardize the connectors on cellphones. A typical example of great legislation, but overdue!

Unfortunately, this is the pattern of technical standards. They are often late in the process, but great for creating platforms upon which, the next level of technology integration can be built.

In an increasingly connected world, the pace of innovation continues to increase as more industry’s expand by application; see chart below:

Aerospace Automotive Consumer Industrial Military Medical
Advanced materials Autonomous vehicles Wearable technology M2M software systems Drone technology Medicine delivery systems
Zero fuel aircraft Rear-mounted radar IoT Supply chain software Multi-level missile defense Behavioral implants
Structural health monitoring Night vision Smart phone Robotics and cobots Exoskeletal robotic suits Advanced prosthetics
Smart automation and blockchain In-car internet Smart watches 3D printing Smart bullets Virtual pain reduction
Advanced space propulsion Vehicle tracking and control VR Displays Blockchain Cyborg bugs

This list is by no mean exhaustive, but it serves to illustrate the number of expanding applications that require electronics.

It has been widely reported that the design and development window continues to shrink, which means that products are being designed, prototyped, tested and produced at a faster rate than ever before. Added to this, the demand for customization by consumers continues to increase, resulting in lower-volume, higher-mix products.

Unfortunately, standards have struggled to keep up with this exploding electronics landscape. Standards bodies have also become more international in recent years, which on one hand is commendable because it provides a more inclusive and holistic view from the industry, but on the other, it must slow down the decision-making process trying to work across time zones and language barriers.

That said, some of our technical standards are woefully old and rooted back in the PTH days! The recent emergence of The Hermes Standard was a direct result of the industry growing impatient and looking for an urgent response to M2M communications to move the industry forward. Conceived by a group of like-minded engineers in March 2017, the first draft was publicly launched in November 2017 at Productronica!

This should not deter trade associations from introducing or updating standards, but act as a strong warning that they really need to pick up their game and find better, more productive and faster ways of developing standards.

– Trevor Galbraith, Editor-in-Chief



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