IoT & Embedded Technology Blog

Deepsea Challenger: Bringing Embedded to the Bottom of the World

Titanic and Avatar director and filmmaker James Cameron recently completed an epic adventure to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest location under the Pacific Ocean. In order to reach this location and survive the crushing pressures of the massive ocean above him, Mr. Cameron rode in a custom designed submarine called the Deepsea Challenger. Equipped with sophisicated video camera technology, Mr. Cameron was able to bring back footage from this alien world that lies nearly 11,000 meters below the surface. A sparse, barren plain devoid of life suggests that the Mariana trench is no place to plan your next vacation. Clearly, Mr. Cameron had some very advanced technology to go explore this place. So, the question from our perspective is, what embedded technology did Mr. Cameron bring with him?

Well, one primary and crucial embedded system is the touch screen that allowed Mr. Cameron to monitor all the critical systems within the Deepsea Challenger submersible, including life support, batteries, thrusters, speed, pressure, orientation, etc. This touch screen no doubt consolidated what would have been a nightmarish ensemble of dials, gauges, and other devices into one interactive screen. No doubt, the first visitors to the bottom of the world, explorers Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh, would be envious of the high tech systems that Mr. Cameron had at his disposal. This touch screen system is a good example of what made it possible for Mr. Cameron to attempt this solo journey.

VDC believes touch screen technology is a fast growing market with huge potential. While most of us will probably have to wait a little longer for deep-diving submersibles (SOTS – Submersibles Off-The-Shelf—you heard it here first), the much more common consumer products like iPods and iPhones already incorporate this technology. Appliances like refrigerators are beginning to incorporate these touch screen technologies as well. This is a particularly good business opportunity for embedded microcontroller companies such as Atmel Corporation with its maXTouch family of touchscreen controllers. In fact, VDC will be examining this kind of technology in its upcoming Track 2: Embedded Processing Technologies, Volume 1: Microcontroller Units (MCU) reports.

Market research aside, VDC congratulates Mr. Cameron and his engineering team on a successful and safe return from the bottom of the ocean.


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