Following my retirement, we have closed our company for new business.

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly, our email portal remains open and I would be delighted to hear from you and provide ongoing support or advice.

Richard Thomson

Companies represented up to the end of December 2023. Please now contact them directly.

k-Space Associates, Inc.
Phone: +1 (734) 426-7977

Phone: +49 8761 76 24 0

Thursday 25 August 2011

Billion Dollar Brain, Gone with the Wand

Having just seen Lord Voledemort cast his last spell and as the latest Harry Potter film approaches the $1billion global box office figure, I am marvelling at the ability of computer-generated imagery (cgi). For film geeks, the cgi filled movie Avatar is the worldwide box office biggest hit with takings of $2.7billion. A 3D virtual cgi Apple there's an idea?

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Even more 'phones

The latest IDC report covers the period April - June 2011 and states that vendors shipped 365.4 million mobile phone units worldwide compared to 328.4 million in the same period last year. The growth is due to the increasing number of smartphones being purchased whilst the simpler and more basic "feature phone" market actually shrank 4% in the last twelve months. This decline being most prominent in the United States, Japan, and Western Europe, as users rapidly transition to smartphones. The shrinking feature phone market is having a significant impact on some of the world’s largest suppliers as they increasingly lose share in this market to low-cost suppliers such as Micromax, TCL-Alcatel, and Huawei. Nokia being particularly badly hit.

Thursday 18 August 2011

Even more LEDs

Barely a month goes by without further evidence of the rapid growth in LED related areas. This month is no exception with figures showing the impact of the National Semiconductor Illuminating Project in China. In 2010, the growth of AlGaInP/AlGaAs/GaAsP/GaP epitaxial wafers, mainly used in red light LED products, accounted for 60.2% of the total epitaxial wafer output. Driven by the rapidly expanding markets for blue and white light LEDs in landscape lighting and backlighting, the GaN epitaxial wafer output accounted for 39.8% of China’s total epitaxial wafer output in 2010. However it is expected that the GaN epitaxial wafer output will exceed that of AlGaInP in 2011. No wonder that Aixtron believe that there is a market for a 16 x 4 inch or 69 x 2 inch MOCVD reactor.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Dim up North

A group at Oxford University have studied the eye sockets and brain capacity of human skulls from 12 different populations across the world and found that the further human populations live from the equator, the bigger their brains. The skulls used in the study dated back to the 1800s and included samples from England, Australia, Canary Islands, China, France, India, Kenya, Micronesia, Scandinavia, Somalia, Uganda and the United States. However, this does not unfortunately mean that us northerners are smarter. Apparently our ancestors developed bigger vision areas in the brain to cope with the low light levels at high latitudes. Living away from the equator, where there is less light available, humans had to evolve bigger eyes, their brains also need to be bigger to deal with the extra visual input.

Monday 8 August 2011

Apples or Chinese Gooseberries?

They do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In which case Mr Jobs should be well pleased, but I guess that he is not. The news that several fake Apple Stores have been operating in China is quite amazing with some staff convinced that they actually worked for Apple. Several have now been closed and it is unclear whether all the stores only sold genuine Apple products or not. Perhaps shoppers should have tried to pay with fake money. On a separate issue it was interesting to note that on Friday of last week, Apple seemed to have more cash to spend than the US government. Perhaps some of it needs to be used to increase their manufacturing capacities. Apparently Apple sold 9.25 million iPads in the last three months but it could have sold more if it could only have made them.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

EPSRC delivery plan for 2011 onwards

We all have at times a tendency to be cynical and find it easier to criticise and knock ideas down rather than develop and build them up. Equally, bitter experience can lead us towards supporting such phrases as "the devil is in the detail" or "the proof of the pudding is in the eating". However, on first reading, I am greatly impressed with the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) delivery plan for 2011 onwards. EPSRC is the main UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and the physical sciences, investing more than £850 million a year and at any one time supporting a £2-3 billion portfolio of research and training.

Economic realities have undoubtedly been a driving force within the strategic plan, however there is much more to it than merely cost cutting. Many of the ideas and methodologies therein are widely relevant and applicable. The strategic aim being to align the EPSRC portfolio of activities to areas of UK strength and national importance. Maintaining the UK's global research standing in light of increasing international competition, and with limited funding, requires tough decisions and changes. The EPSRC is changing, it is in transition from being a funder of research and training to a sponsor, where investments act as a strategic resource focused on outcomes for the national good. All these higher level strategic concepts and goals can sound grandiose, however the EPSRC do seem to have the action plans that will deliver the end results. I was particularly pleased to see an emphasis on two points:

a) The focusing on specific themes. This includes targeted technical themes (eg the digital economy) and facilitating themes (eg manufacturing in the future and research infrastructure). In addition, the plan is brave enough to clearly state that with limited funding and a more focused approach, there will be losers. Some existing areas will be reduced. This may be obvious, it will be painful for some but it needed saying clearly.

b) The focus on key people and developing leaders. The clear statement that the EPSRC will identify and invest preferentially in emerging and established leaders may not appear to some to be politically correct or even democratic but it gets my vote. Building on existing winners, together with creating even more, always strikes me as a good approach.

Yes, I agree that "the proof of the pudding is in the eating", but to end on another culinary note - "you can't make an omelette without cracking eggs".