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A Glimpse Of Tomorrow, Today

Dec. 5, 2011
The microwave industry was largely born out of a very proud moment in history: the discovery and application of radar, which helped the Allies to win World War II. The first side to strike in that conflict would prove the winner. The Allies quickly ...

The microwave industry was largely born out of a very proud moment in history: the discovery and application of radar, which helped the Allies to win World War II. The first side to strike in that conflict would prove the winner. The Allies quickly gained that edge with radar, which gave them an unprecedented ability to see targets many miles away. After the war, microwave engineers kept improving and building on radar, creating a knowledge base that led to major innovations like the transistor. From there, microwave and RF technology has marched forward steadily, giving Microwaves & RF and everyone who worked for it the honor of covering its innovations since the magazine's inception 50 years ago. The speed of such developments is only expected to quicken going forward.

The industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) markets, for example, have been altered by wireless networking alone. Such networking has enabled the continuous monitoring of patients in medical facilities. It has provided better inventory control through RF identification (RFID). Wireless sensors support safe buildings and can even monitor energy usage.

The wireless hospital is quickly becoming a reality. Physicians no longer need to be on site to know the status of their patients. Modern wireless technology can provide them with instant updates and even live video of their patients. This changecombined with existing innovations like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other microwave-dependent medical technologiesheralds only the beginning of the RF/microwave industry's impact on the medical arena. Research and development efforts are constantly leading to new medical applications for microwave technology, ranging from microwave hyperthermia for the treatment of tumors to the detection of pregnancy by means of microwave urine analysis. In fact, RF power in particular has been targeted as a source of everything from RF ablation to beauty treatments.

The automotive space also has been revolutionized by microwave developments. Since 1993, auto makers have studied the use of 77-GHz radar for collision-avoidance applications. From hands-free kits and key fobs that use wireless networking to a multitude of sensors, today's cars offer a vast amount of technologyand will only be offering greater capabilities as a result. With Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) systems being leveraged by the majority of drivers, many think the next step is equipping cars with mapping and positioning engines. Eventually, such capabilities could lead to the car that can drive itself.

These examples do not include the massive communications and wireless breakthroughs that will birth the "connected/smart home" of tomorrow. Eventually, everyone will be able to stream videos, show pictures, and more throughout their homes. Notifications will allow consumers to adjust their thermostats and time the usage of their appliances to conserve energy during spikes in energy usage.

Meanwhile, radar and defense capabilities are doing everything from providing secure communications to the soldier on the ground to protecting us from space. Many great existing programs, which enhanced capabilities in the past, are being upgraded to improve functionality for the next generation. Microwave and RF technologies are being used to combat today's threatscountering improvised explosive devices (IEDs), detecting the presence of potential terrorist threats inside structures, gathering intelligence, and much more.

Microwave and RF technologies are driving the world toward a future that can only be imagined. In the process, they are saving more lives, helping people stay connected, and adding to quality of life. High-frequency technologies will continue to revolutionize many industries and markets. Microwaves & RF feels honored to be along for the ride, and we will continue to report on the trends that are driving this industry. Thanks for your support. Here's to the next 50 years!

About the Author

Nancy Friedrich | Editor-in-Chief

Nancy Friedrich began her career in technical publishing in 1998. After a stint with sister publication Electronic Design as Chief Copy Editor, Nancy worked as Managing Editor of Embedded Systems Development. She then became a Technology Editor at Wireless Systems Design, an offshoot of Microwaves & RF. Nancy has called the microwave space “home” since 2005.

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