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Weekend Wisdom - Prognostication Review

Ever have one of those: "oh, if I only knew..." moments? I just did. I read one of my predicting-the-future blog posts from December 2018. Let me quote the first paragraph:

"It's now the eve of 2019 and about all I'll say on the coming year is that we are in for a wild ride. The last few years have been pretty crazy, and 2019 looks to continue that trend, but amped up - 2019 will go to eleven. Don't worry though. If it seems like things are at their worst, they aren't. It's just the cycle."

If 2019 went to eleven, we've got to be at about sixteen now. 

Webb image

Thinking about the last three and a half years just scared me, so I stepped further back in time to my decade-spanning predictions from 2010 (My Top Ten Electronics Predictions for 2010). Twelve years on, how did I do?

Prediction, wrong: First, I said that by 2020, 50% of all passive components would be embedded passives (within the layers of the PCB) and 20% of all PCBs would have more than 90% of all passives embedded. Not. This practice hasn't really taken off except in specialized applications. For most designs, the cost/benefit just isn't there yet. It touches CAD software, PCB fab and assembly, so maybe it's just been too big a bite.

Prediction, wrong: Quad POP (package on package) becomes commonplace.  Another miss that is pretty much reserved for specialized applications. Memory density has kept up with demand, so this just hasn't really been made necessary in broader applications.

Prediction, correct: Each individual human will have their own IP address.  Totally on point. We all carry at least one in our pocket, sometimes more. We have multiple in our house, Most new cars have an IP. We may not have IP addresses for each hand and foot, but close enough.

Prediction, Mixed: Diminished use of solder paste. Missed and met on this one. Boards and components on balance are smaller than was typical 12 years ago and we do use less paste with smaller footprint components, but I was thinking in terms of not needing it due to embedded passives and direct copper deposition.

Prediction, correct, but still in progress: Most hydraulics and pneumatics in new vehicles replaced by electrics. This one was spot on but more in terms of the trend than the exact timeline. Power steering is almost switched from hydraulics to electric. Braking is still largely hydraulic but is heavily supplemented with electric controls.

Prediction, correct: Semi-autonomous passenger cars on the auto-show circuit. In fact, prototypes are on the road. I did add that that hobby-built semi-self driving cars would be on the road. This may be the case, but I haven't heard of any. Get to work car hackers.

Prediction, correct: I said that "airline pilot" would become a boring job due to the automation. This isn't all that obvious, but I suspect it is more true than we like to think. I'm giving myself a yes on this one.

Prediction, mixed: I predicted that most military foot action would consist of a couple of remote solders commanding robots in the front lines. The robots that I envisioned aren't quite there yet, but if you include flying drones, you could give this one a partial yes.

Prediction, correct: I gave a tongue-in-cheek prediction that the US president would be calling for healthcare reform as the highest priority. The language and circumstances are a bit different than I was envisioning (I did not predict a pandemic and accompanying strain on healthcare in general), but I'm going to say close enough.

Prediction, correct: Routine bioengineering- A lot more of this is going on just below the public information base than we are aware of. The startup category (now referred to as Biotech) is gathering a lot of brilliant young minds and venture capital. I may have been a little overoptimistic in terms of the definition of "routine", but we'll be hearing even more from this in the next decade.

Prediction, maybe?: And I quote myself: "By the end of the decade, the 2019 recession will be looming large." You be the judge.

Prediction correct: Maybe a bit overstated when I said that lead would be gone from 98% of new electronics, but the trend is on the mark. Military and medical electronics still often use leaded solder, but very little else does.

I was 50/50 for my final four. Not bad as a futurist. Although, if I'm completely honest with myself, I would have to say that the best way to make accurate predictions is to look for trends that are well on their way, but just not yet that obvious. Prognostication is really just keen observation.

Duane Benson
Still no real flying cars, but, you know, you can kind of buy a useable jet pack now.

One last prediction: If you quote and order your PCBAs here at Screaming Circuits, we will build them for you.

Comments

I think when I originally wrote the joke in 2010, it was intended as commentary on how difficult the healthcare and health insurance problems are to solve or even to come to agreement on, and on how many times I had heard a president call that out as a top priority.

PPPAC was going through the legislative process at the time. So is the 2019 healthcare reform a joke to indicate PPACA would not be entirely successful. If so, I think that has come true. The idea making everyone buy health insurance, and helping the poor buy it, so they can pay their own bills made sense, but there was a lot that didn't work... and we didn't predict how much people would love or hate something based on pure partisanship, without regard to any characteristics of the program.

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