Category: Company Blog

ePaper Reinforcements In The Paperless Revolution

The paperless revolution in which we now find ourselves is not so much a revolution as a slow burning movement anchored primarily by the logistics involved in changing systems and a lingering resistance to wholly trust technology.  But the technology is there.  Waiting.  In fact the E-Ink concept was originally penned way back in the 1970’s and ironically there it stayed, on paper, until a couple of boffins from MIT filed a flurry of patents in the mid to late nineties and early noughties, finally bringing life to the idea.

The technology behind E-Ink is beautifully simple.  Floating in a clear oil you have positively charged black particles and negatively charged white particles.  This, housed within a small transparent capsule, forms a single pixel, tens of thousands of which are meshed behind a clear screen.  Each pixel is placed between electrodes and a charge is given to the electrode to determine the position of the charged black and white particles and thus the image presented on the screen.  As per the first law of electrostatics, particles with like charges repel and those with opposing charges attract so when an electrode is given a negative charge, it attracts the positively charged black particles, simultaneously displacing and repelling the white particles.  The result is that the white particles are then forced to the top of the screen and that pixel is now a white pixel.  Conversely, when the electrode is given a positive charge, it attracts the negatively charged white particles, repels the black particles and we see the pixel as being black.  For even greater image sharpness the charge can be bifurcated such that a single pixel (microcapsule) can present as black on one side and white on the other, or vice versa.

In many ways e-ink is simply an advancement of the old etch-a-sketch children’s toy, except where a magnetic stimulus is used to change the state of a pixel, e-ink uses an electrostatic charge.  Crucially, there is one further key commonality; once an image is created on the screen, there it stays even with the device powered down.  This vital feature is quite unlike almost all other forms of electronic screen where displaying an image requires ongoing power.  Whether LCD, LED, AMOLED, QLED, plasma et al, once the power goes, so does the image.  With E-Ink, it takes no power to maintain the image on the screen.  Until a new charge arrangement is input by the user, the image will remain visible with no degradation.

E-ink isn’t suitable for every application.  You wouldn’t, for instance, want your TV to use e-ink.  It does, however, excel in some very specific areas.  First to mind is of course Amazon’s Kindle device where e-ink brings about incredible battery life, a screen that can be used in bright sunlight and a paper-like reading experience that can be less stressful on the eyes and less stimulating for those who read at night.  Digital paper is gathering momentum with some major players like Sony driving the market forward with their 10 and 13 inch tablets.  Here, not only can you read text on the screen, but you can also edit text, highlight it, format it, etc, all the while still benefiting from the incredible battery life and the user friendly screen, etc.  Sony, amongst others, are also using the technology to try and solve one of the key problems smartwatches have with their incessant demand for charge.  With most smartwatches typically yearning to suckle from the national grid daily, watches using E-ink technology can have battery lives of 30 days, 3 months or even a reported 2 years in one case.  And the same is happening with smartphones with a recent release boasting a battery life in excess of two weeks.  And that’s not to mention the number of small home use medical devices that use an E-Ink screen.  Every diabetic, for instance, will be familiar with that monochromatic display.

But surely there’s more to be had from this technology?  With it’s incredible flexibility, power efficiency, high visibility and eco friendliness, American Bright agree wholeheartedly and eagerly introduce their E-Paper Display range.

Imagine a supermarket where every item on every shelf is mated to a small E-Paper display showing the product details, the price and the barcode.  When the price changes, there’s no more printing labels.  When an item goes out of stock, there’s no more stickers to apply or signs to place.  It’s just a case of updating that screen through the press of a few keys, locally in the store, centrally from head office or nationally by the group.  With full control and immediacy of action, finally the price display mechanism can catch up with the rest of the frenetic paced dynamism of the supermarket industry.

Hospitals have multi-million pound scanning machines, highly trained staff, robotic operations and cellular even genetic manipulation at their fingertips.  Yet what is the first thing that happens when you go into a hospital bed?  Your name is scribbled on a white board or written on a sticker above your bed.  Sometimes.  A colleague of mine visited his sister after her gallbladder operation to find that, according to the board, she’d aged 20 years, grown a beard and changed her name to Geoffrey.  Imagine if all hospitals simply had American Bright’s E-Paper technology.  Every bed clearly signed, every patient added at the touch of a button along with special notes, allergies, dietary requirements, etc.  Every time a shift changes, the doctor’s name is automatically updated in line with the roster.  How many mistakes could be avoided?  How much time could be saved?

And what about café’s constantly changing their menus?  Restaurants and their smudges-of-chalk specials boards, vending machines, kiosks and luggage manufacturers?  Oh and what about … well, you get the gist.  Anything that needs to be regularly updated and displayed is a prime target for American Bright’s E-Paper.

With almost zero power consumption, sizes from a credit card to a wall display and ongoing software support, the future of signage has arrived and it’s called E-Paper from American Bright.

Arrowing In On LoRa Technology

The latest company to join the Steadlands portfolio, Raltron, has recently launched a design kit, allowing technicians and manufacturers everywhere to experiment with their components and antennae developed for LoRa (Long Range Communications).

Raltron Electronics, long an expert in the field of frequency management tools and techniques, brought out the LoRa Design Kit to allow prospective manufacturers to examine the various components that they offer and give them a trial run. The kit consists of a number of crystals set to 32.000 MHz, some TCXO crystals (temperature compensated crystal oscillators) set to operate at a few different frequencies, ceramic filters set to standard US and Europe frequencies, SAW filters (Surface Acoustic Wave filters) set to standard US, Europe, and Asia frequencies, and antennae set for the same.

The kit is available from arrow.com for under $100.

You can view the datasheet for the LoRa Design Kit here.

American Bright Introduces All-New 5mm Ultra-Slim Series

American Bright has introduced a brilliant new option to its already comprehensive line of flexible rope lighting with the AB-FH series of 5mm diffused side-emitting light. With its sleek dimensions and Ingress Protection rating of 67, adding light to almost any indoor and outdoor application is now possible. Select from either 12V DC or 24V DC with color options of white (warm, neutral or cool), green, blue, red, amber, RGB or RGB+IC.

Adaptable and UL-listed, these 5mm rope lights are customizable in length. The 12V DC lengths starts from a minimum of 0.98 inches in increments of 0.98 inches up to a maximum length of 197 inches. The 24V DC lengths start at a minimum of 1.97 inches in increments of 1.97 inches up to a maximum length of 394 inches. Lead length is standard on both voltage options at 12 inches. Operating temperature is -20°C to 80°C.

Due to its ultra-slim design and robustness, lighting can be added to endless applications such as in architectural residential and commercial buildings, hospital settings, entertainment equipment, backlighting, yachts, and exercise equipment just to name a few. Additionally, the silicon flexible housing material will not yellow due to UV exposure.

“American Bright remains a leader in providing high quality lighting products and meeting demanding challenges of custom light solutions,” noted George Lee, President of American Bright Optoelectronics Corp. “We will continue to stay on the forefront of technology and will continue to develop high-quality, cost effective solutions for the industry,” Lee added.

For further information on the entire product offering of infrared devices, visit https://www.americanbrightled.com/product/ir-products/ or call us on 01670 361 261.

About American Bright Optoelectronics Corporation
American Bright Optoelectronics Corporation is a leading manufacturer in LED solutions with over 20 years of experience in global research, engineering, manufacturing and OEM solutions. We offer one of the industry’s largest selection of AC LED light engines, Horticulture lighting, Custom PCB assembly, High Power LED, SMT Chips, PLCC, LED lamps, and IR products. To learn more about American Bright products, visit americanbrightled.com

The Myriad of Uses for Force Sensing Resistors

Force Sensing Resistors are used in many different applications worldwide, from helping people walk, to detecting the depth of water. Here we are going to take a look at some of the more unusual, or ingenious, uses they have seen.

Fall Sensing Resistors

FSRs are seeing use in the medical industry, to detect when patients fall out of bed or a chair. FSRs under the mattress or cushion allow a nurse to see how a patient is lying or sitting, how long they have stayed in that position, and can set off alarms when the patient leaves the place in question or doesn’t move for too long. This could be they get up to wander off from the chair they’ve been sat in, or it could be they have managed to fall out of bed. Either way though, the nurses will quickly know, and be able to remedy the situation.

Foot/Fist Sensing Resistors

This application is actually seeing use in two very different, but still related fields. In the robotics industry, FSRs are used for grip and/or feet sensors, to allow a robot to, for example, pick something up, without crushing it. In the same manner, FSRs are used in robot feet for the same purpose. Once a step has been taken, the robot needs to know it’s foot is clearly on the floor so it doesn’t keep trying to step and knock itself over. This also allows a robot to detect if it has stood on something it shouldn’t, and allow it to correct before breaking that something.

The other industry which is seeing very similar use is the prosthetics market, allowing recipients of prosthetic limbs a far finer control over their new limbs than was previously possible.

Front Sensing Resistors

A number of vehicle manufacturers are now using FSR technology in front and rear bumpers, to help with collision detection. If anything sets off the sensors, that will send a signal to start other automatic processes, emergency braking, for example. Vehicles aren’t the only things seeing this use of FSRs though. Collision detection is also useful in automatic doors, warehouse conveyors, and weigh stations, to name but a few examples.

Fertility Sensing Resistors

I had to save the most unusual use of an FSR for last, of course, and I’m fairly sure I don’t want to know how this use was discovered. Apparently, it is possible to determine the best time of insemination using vibrations of a vagina wall. Now, this is not done on people, but has been discovered to offer huge savings in the cattle industry, allowing farmers to know exactly when they should bring their stud bull in to, well, do his thing.

Where once the bull had to be brought in day after day to ensure fertilization, each time costing the farmer stud fees, now, thanks to force sensing resistor technology, the farmer can tell when is the perfect time to bring him in. Great news for the farmer, not so much for the bull!

Davies Digest April 2019

Davies Molding have recently expanded their offerings of knob toppers to include a new, softer rubber handle. The natural rubber used to make them has a high tensile strength and excellent impact resistance while, at the same time, providing a comfortable, yet sturdy grip. These new handles are available in a variety of sizes and threads to better suit your applications.

In other Davies Molding news, thanks to international business increasing demand, Davies have now started offering their their knobs in metric sizes. These new choices apply to all models of knob on offer, in both thermoset and thermoplastic materials.

Our final snippet for this Davies Digest is to congratulate them on becoming the US distributor for German handle manufacturer Rohde. Rodhe produce sturdy adjustable handles suitable for any application.

eSignature Solutions

STU-541

Whether you’re in a back office, or going door-to-door, whatever your application, Steadlands has an electronic signature solution that suits you perfectly. From a simple signature pad to sit on a quiet desk to sign letters, we can offer you a selection of esignature devices that reaches up to a completely portable solution capable of converting hand-completed forms into electronic documents.

At the entry level, we offer the ePad, ePad II, and STU-300B. All are suitable for simple signature capture, although the STU-300B also boasts a small LCD screen that allows a signer to see their signature appear under the “pen”. The ePad II  also has an identifier code that is unique to each separate pad, allowing an administrator to determine exactly which ePad II was used to capture a specific signature. All three of these units are small and light, and so will easily slip into the side of a laptop case for easy transport, although do still need to be plugged into a computer to work.

The PHU-111KO Clipboard, on the other hand, is a rechargeable, portable solution that lets you complete entire forms (in ink, no less!), and have them automatically transcribed into electronic documents. Those documents are then saved on a local storage device, usually a mobile phone or tablet, and can later be transferred to a company network. Clever use of barcodes also means that the Clipboard can handle multiple documents at once.

For the public, customer facing application, we would recommend you look at Wacom’s DTU-1031X, the DTU-1141B, the DTH-1152, and the DTK-1651. All of these models plug into a PC and are used as you would a second screen. But, thanks to the electromagnetic resonance technology used in the screen and stylus, these tablets are far more useful than simple monitors. The ability to act as a second screen, but with touchscreen capability, means that these tablets are ideal for use in a customer facing environment that requires the customer’s input. Completing entry forms at hotels, or selecting seats at the cinema, are just a couple of examples of where the DT* series will come in useful, and they are, of course, fully capable of handling handwritten signatures on their electronic documents.

In the middle of the range, you will find our most popular esignature solutions. The final two pieces in the ePadLink range are the ePad-Ink, and the ePad Vision, and from Wacom, the STU-430, STU-430V, STU-530, STU-540, and STU-541. All have screens and are suitable for customer facing applications, although they do not have the “full page” capabilities of the DT* series. They can all, however, be used to display simple marketing messages, or even ask questions of the person using the pad. The STU-430 pads, and the ePad-Ink are limited to black and white images, while the Vision, and the higher end STUs are fully capable of displaying colour images with remarkable detail.

All of our esignature solutions come with their own developers’ kits, drivers, and software. For the ePad range, this comes in the form of IntegriSign Desktop, an application which incorporates the SDKs and holds ready-made plug-ins for Microsoft Word and Excel, and Adobe Acrobat. Also available is a standalone piece of software called pDoc Signer which allows for the signing of PDF documents without the need for a full blown version of Acrobat.

The Wacom series of signature pads also has a standalone piece of software for PDF signing, this one named SignPro PDF. The rest of the download for the Wacom pads is all contained in a pair of SDKs, designed to allow you to integrate Wacom’s signature solutions into your own software.

Whatever your application, we can help you find the right solution. For more information, or to arrange a demonstration, please contact us.

Revolutionizing the Automotive Experience

As autonomous and self-driving vehicles are perfected and start to see use on the roads, it is natural to wonder, what will the occupants do, now they no longer need to pay attention to the road? This is where IEE‘s latest innovation comes in.

They have been working alongside Yanfeng Automotive Interiors to develop the “Active Space” system in the rear compartment of Yanfeng’s new autonomous rideshare concept vehicle, ‘Experience in Motion 2020,’ or XiM20 for short, which is currently touring the US.

Active Space is an interactive 3D sensing solution combined with a tailored human-machine interface delivery, using a unique combination of in-cabin 3D sensing plus large surface display technology. It enables immersive interaction between passengers and the vehicle interior for entertainment, communication, and ambience.

 

 

Bending Light Made Simple

Whether installed for functional reasons or not, clever use of light can add a whole new dimension to your decoration. American Bright‘s flexible light strips and ropes allow you to do just that. They are available in red, green, blue, white, amber, RGB and RGBW , where those last two indicate a combination of LED colours – red, green, and blue, and red, green, blue, and white. The flexible lighting strips and ropes are also available with a few different IP rating options. The first, IP20, is not waterproof, but is protected from physical objects up to about finger size from touching the electronics. The other two, IP64 and IP67 are completely sealed to protect the electronics from dust, and vary in their water resistance, with the IP64 protecting against splashed water, and the IP67 capable of being submerged for short periods of time, and up to a depth of 1m.

The maximum length these flexible light strips can be is determined by the power you are using to run your lights. A 12 volt DC supply has a maximum length of 5m, A 24 volt DC could reach up to 10m, and for the rope lighting, which can also accept a 120/240 volt AC power supply, you can get up to 35m in length. The rope lighting is constructed from a hollow silicone structure which allows for more flexibility when setting up your light system.

If you’d like to know more about the flexible lighting strips, or the rope lights, please get in touch with us here at Steadlands.

 

New LED Automotive Lighting

American Bright have launched a series of automotive LED lights that serve as low power, high brightness replacements for the T10 incandescent bulbs. As with all LEDs, they give off minimal excess heat, and no infrared, ultraviolet, or other harmful radiation.

The T10 LED bulbs are available in either 12 or 24 volts, and 0.5 or 1 Watts. They can be bought in four different colours. These are Amber, White, Cool White, and Warm White. Depending on all of these variables, the bulb will output light ranging from 37 to 105 lumens.

If you’d like to know more about the T10 LED bulbs, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Green Fingers Under Purple Skies

Light comes in three parts – red, blue, and green. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but this will do for now. When something appears white, it is because it is reflecting all three colours, and absorbing none. At the other end of the scale, if something appears black, they are absorbing all of the visible light, and reflecting none of it back. All colours in all things lie somewhere between these extremes, absorbing some light, and reflecting back part of a specific bracket which is what gives us colour.

Plants usually reflect the green part of the light spectrum, hence their green colour. They also have chlorophyll in their leaves, which allows them to convert light into energy for growth. Chlorophyll comes in several different varieties, but the two you will find in green plants everywhere is chlorophyll a, and chlorophyll b. Chlorophyll a is what allows the plant to convert energy from the ultra-violet end of the light scale, and chlorophyll b converts energy from the infra-red end of the light spectrum.

This is why you will often find LED lighting designed for horticulture gives off a purple light. They are providing light in both the blue and red parts of the spectrum that the plant needs for maximum growth potential.

The other thing to consider when looking at horticultural lighting is the amount of light they give off. It won’t make much difference if you’re using the right colour light, if the beam is too weak to matter. This is rated in Lumens (lm). An old 60 watt filament bulb, for example, would give off around 800-850 lumens, or to talk the technical talk, around 13-14 lumens per watt (lm/W). In comparison, an LED light that gives off the same amount of lumens, would only need to be rated at about 11.5 watt, so barely 20% of the power needed.

As well as the obvious power savings, LED lighting technology also means that we can generate the same amount of light as an old bulb, while giving off just a tiny fraction of the heat a filament bulb generates. This is part of how we can generate the same amount of light with a far lower wattage – a far lower energy loss due to heat waste.

American Bright Optoelectronics Company has recently launched a new range of horticultural LED strip lighting, making them the first company to market an efficient and industrial scale IP67 grow light system. It is suitable for use in both vertical and horizontal applications, and is available in both DC and AC format, depending on length and voltage. The maximum length of the lighting strips can be up to 98 feet, or 30m. At this length you are limited to a 240 volt AC power supply. The next length is 65ft, or 20m, which can be lit using a 120v AC power supply, and the final, shortest length available is just 10ft, or around 3m. This is the maximum length you can use if planning on using a DC power supply.

If you’re interested in finding out about any of American Bright’s products, including these horticultural strip lights, please do not hesitate to contact us.