It's no news that even supposedly non-analog circuits (and their designers) increasingly are facing “analog” issues of signal distortion, signal integrity, dispersion, and other ailments of the real, analog world. But I am seeing increasing evidence that analog and transducers (many MEMS-related, but not necessarily so), coupled with suitable processors and algorithms, are really where there is innovative, clever design work going on.
A few examples: see this article from The Wall Street Journal on handheld, medical-grade ultrasonic scanners, GE Is Latest to Make Handheld Ultrasound. Or the ubiquitous home blood-pressure units, some of which retail for $40-60 and work quite well. Or this motion-activated security-system sensor from Cooper Lighting, which goes beyond using just passive infrared (PIR) sensing , adding Doppler-mode radar sensing as well. Or this handy blood glucose meter; see our teardown here.
In short, the increasingly powerful and low-cost use of inherently analog transducers and signal-conditioning circuitry, in combination with appropriate processing power is a major factor in the analog world. Wait a minute. . . .Isn't this where “analog” got its original impetus? Isn't interfacing with actual. physical sensors and actuators in the real world, with all the complexity, diversity, and challenges that implies, what analog circuitry and components are largely about?
Hmmm. . . . sounds like “Back to the Future” here! ♦