Here's some random news items on the wire that seem appropriate for the end of the year.

Wireless Back-up Camera Wins Award
GPS manufacturer Magellan has been named an International CES Innovations 2012 Design and Engineering Award Honoree for its Wireless Back-up Camera. The Magellan Wireless Back-up Camera attaches to the vehicle's rear license plate and transmits images directly to one of several 7" Magellan GPS models transforming the display into a rear view monitor. When the car is put into reverse, the Magellan navigator will automatically switch from navigation mode to rear view mode, enabling drivers to view what is behind their car. The Back-up Camera has a wide-angle view lens with a 120-degree horizontal and 100-degree vertical viewing area – perfect for seeing children, pets, toys, and other vehicles.

Sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, producer of the International CES, the world's largest consumer technology tradeshow, the prestigious Innovations Design and Engineering Awards have been recognizing achievements in product design and engineering since 1976.

Products entered in this prestigious program are judged by a preeminent panel of independent industrial designers, engineers and members of the media to honor outstanding design and engineering in cutting edge consumer electronics products across 32 product categories including: engineering qualities, based on technical specs and materials used, aesthetic and design qualities, the product's intended use/function and user value, unique/novel features that consumers would find attractive and how the design and innovation of the product compares to other products in the marketplace.

Flexible Substrates
Industry analyst firm NanoMarkets is announcing the release of its latest report on flexible substrates that estimates that the total market for flexible substrates will grow to $1.2 billion by 2017. Demand for these materials is being driven by a wave of interest of adding flexibility in displays, solar panels, sensors as a way to expand markets in difficult times.

This report is the latest in the firm's ongoing coverage of flexible electronics and photovoltaics markets. It analyzes the opportunities for flexible substrates in a wide range of applications including displays, photovoltaics, sensors, and in a variety of roll-to-roll fabrication applications. Materials discussed in this report include metal sheets and foils, polyimide and PET, flexible glass, textiles and paper.The report also discusses the strategies of some of the leading suppliers and users of these materials including include Ascent Solar, Corning, Dow Chemical, DuPont, DuPont Teijin, Dyesol, Kaneka, Nokia, Pilkington Glass, Samsung Schott and Tata Steel. It also includes detailed forecasts for the flexible plastic, metal and glass substrate materials in both volume and value terms, with breakouts by application, by material type, and by printing method.

The earliest flexible substrates revenues will come from roll-to-roll (R2R) fabrication. R2R promises low-cost displays, lighting, RFID, etc. But there are still major challenges to be overcome in R2R since such processes often produce lower performance devices. NanoMarkets believes that these problems will be resolved and the market for R2R flexible substrates will then explode.

Meanwhile, the materials used for flexible substrates will change. The report predicts a major trend towards low-cost polymer substrates such as PET, as dramatic reductions in processing temperatures occur. This will also require more use of organic semiconductors. In addition, NanoMarkets sees flexible glass becoming a substantial market, if this material can support the same process technologies used for rigid glass displays. There will also be niche market for such novel flexible substrates as paper and textiles.

Nonetheless, it is expected that the flexible substrates that are used to today will continue to take a significant share of the market. Metal substrates are already in widespread use (notably in the PV industry). Where strong, inert, cheap substrates are desired, stainless steel will remain a popular choice. Polyimide films are most likely to succeed in the long run where processing conditions are gentlest; printed PV would be an example here.

Samsung Tops 2011 Broadband Genie Smartphone Sales Charts

With just a week of the year to go, Samsung looks set to be 2011's top UK smartphones manufacturer at leading comparison website Broadband Genie.

Samsung has held off stiff competition from HTC, with other contenders trailing in their wake. Broadband Genie MD Ciaron Dunne said: It's been a great 2011 for both manufacturers. We're recording around four sales by these two for every one for Apple, BlackBerry, Nokia and Sony Ericsson. LG and Motorola are a long way behind despite having some great handsets on the market."

The Desire and Galaxy S brands took centre stage. The best individual handset in terms of sales tracked by Broadband Genie was the Samsung Galaxy S2, with the HTC Desire second, Samsung's original Galaxy S third and the HTC Desire HD fourth. Between them, they took more than a third of the year's tracked smartphone sales.

HTC had five models in the top 10 sellers, Samsung three, Apple and BlackBerry one. HTC's Wildfire and Wildfire S budget smartphones performed strongly (seventh and eighth respectively), while the BlackBerry Torch 9800 proved popular with Broadband Genie users.

In terms of operating systems, it is no surprise that Android dominated. Smartphones powered by Android made up around 75 per cent of sales, with the Apple OS and BlackBerry OS taking around 10 per cent each. While showing promise, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 is yet to make much impact.

Broadband Genie compares thousands of web smartphone deals, both direct from mobile providers and from resellers. Pay as you go and SIM-free handset offers are available on sister site Mobile Phone Genie.

ANSYS among the top 1 percent of all stocks.

ANSYS, a developer of engineering simulation software that includes the popular HFSS 3D EM Simulaiton software, is one of only six technology businesses worldwide to receive the highest possible score in a new list of stock ratings published by Investor's Business Daily. The financial publication's SmartSelect Composite Ratings of publicly traded companies grade stock performance on a scale of 1 to 99. ANSYS earned a rating of 99 earlier this month, the highest possible score. This places ANSYS among the top 1 percent of all stocks reviewed by the publication.

In compiling its SmartSelect Composite Ratings, Investor's Business Daily considers many factors, including earnings per share, relative price strength, sales and profit growth and return on equity. In 2011, shares in ANSYS grew 18 percent.

"Engineering simulation is a rapidly growing field because it helps companies overcome their greatest challenge — speeding the product development process, while maintaining a high degree of confidence in product integrity," said Jim Cashman, president and CEO of ANSYS. "By designing and assessing products in a low-risk virtual environment, engineering teams can make sure they 'get it right' rapidly and cost-effectively, with minimal investments in physical prototypes and field testing. We expect applications for ANSYS software to continue to grow, as both engineers and executives realize the promise of Simulation-Driven Product Development™. Our company's strong performance reflects the real value that ANSYS solutions add for customers around the world, every day and in every industry."