The DreamBoard project – probing tomorrow’s global electronic trends

August 25, 2015 // By Dianne Kibbey, element14
Development kits – or dev kits – have shaped the technology-led world we know today. These printed circuit boards sit at the heart of technology innovation, enabling developments within smart devices, wearables, the Internet of Things, and smart metering, to name just a few.

While the general consumer might not completely understand the role of the dev kit, for electronic engineers the dev kit has become a critical component in product design. With thousands of dev kits available for electronics engineers working in early stage design, it may appear the industry is spoilt for choice. But are they providing the features and technologies that today’s engineers are looking for?

The DreamBoard project, launched by element14 in October last year, set out to uncover what engineers are really looking for from dev kits in the early design process, through a global crowdsourcing initiative. Using an interactive tool on the element14 Community site, thousands of engineers “created” their ultimate development kit from scratch, choosing from a wide range of technologies and features, including core architecture, board size, memory, processor, sensors, interface and connectivity.

The initiative certainly caught the imagination of engineers across the globe, with more than 3,000 boards created and shared across the element14 Community since the initiative launched. Most recently, 16 of the best designs including entries from the UK, Europe, the USA and India, as selected by a team of VIP engineers on the element14 Community, went head-to-head in the Battle of the DreamBoard, with knock-out voting rounds finding the engineering community’s ultimate dev kit.

The DreamBoard winner marks a milestone, but the real value of this initiative is the huge amount of data and that’s been collected over the course of the project and what it tells us. The thousands of unique dev kit designs from design engineers and electronics enthusiasts provide the industry with significant insight into dev kit requirements and the design aspirations of today’s electronic engineers.

Design engineering trends

The DreamBoard data points to a clear demand for increased power for multiple connected devices, with a strong preference for quad-core processors and network connectivity. Earlier this year, the element14 “Engineering a Connected World” initiative highlighted a strong interest from