Software of all kinds plays increasingly important roles in everyday life. On an engineering level, of course, software circuit and electromagnetic (EM) simulators have made it possible to analyze structures that were once designed solely by trial and error. Design times have been shaved dramatically as a result of these simulation tools, and system-level simulations have made it possible to combine complex arrays of components and circuits with a fairly good understand of the final system's performance.
On a consumer level, most people would be lost without the operating system in their personal computer (PC), or in their cell phone, or their personal digital assistant (PDA). Software has taken over some of our thought processes and some of our organic "memory space" that we once dedicated to remembering key facts, such as names, addresses, and phone numbers.
The inevitable use of software is to replace humanoids all together, through the use of intelligent robotics systems. Curiously, LabVIEW software, which is perhaps most associated with automatic test equipment (ATE), has successfully been applied to a humanoid robot to study locomotion. Robotics technology is still in its infancy, but it is possible that robots may take over some of the tasks now performed by humans, within the lifetimes of many readers. Whether that is a good thing, only time, and our readers, can tell.
by Jack Browne, MWRF Technical Director