Plot twist: Analog Devices is digital

Nicole Sara Sivens
November 10, 2017
10 min read
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Here’s the thing about our modern surroundings: the physical world is now, more often than not, digital.

And this isn’t just about your social life. Sound and light are often used in a variety of computing needs — from cell phones and televisions to streetlights and wind turbines — and it has become increasingly vital to the way we communicate, entertain, inform, and survive. So while sending a funny meme to your friends is a part of this process, so is energy production, safety procedures, and more.

What could possibly hold so much power? Well, simple: microchips.

Ever since people used rotary phones to stay in touch, Analog Devices has been around to hone the possibilities of what microchips can do. That’s why it’s no surprise that Analog has continued to be at the forefront of introducing the physical world to a wide and ever-changing landscape of digital capabilities.

As a leader in high-performance technology since 1965, Analog Devices is working to solve some of the world’s hardest problems, including the need for renewable energy and clean water. And because this company has such an impressive scope of products currently in use, we feel like it’s more than up to the challenge.

Play that back

It’s obvious that Analog Devices is working on things that aren’t exactly easy to understand. So let’s take a minute to break things down without getting too technical.

The company creates microchips that process analog signals (otherwise known as “real world phenomena” such as light, sound, speed, and temperature) into electrical patterns. Some microchips are produced with digital signals to garner information — as in, those 0s and 1s you remember from the Matrix — and some use the mixed signals of both.

The information that the microchips store makes consumer, commercial, and governmental products more efficient, powerful, and safe. Think about the rotary phone we mentioned earlier, for instance. Advances in microchip technologies have made it so you can communicate with anyone, anywhere from the sleek phone in your pocket. It’s also part of the reason why you don’t need to commit phone numbers to memory anymore, too.

Chipping in

So where do all of these microchips end up, exactly? Well, if we listed everything, you’d have a new novel on your hands. The microchips that Analog engineers involve a network of about 75,000 products, which touches everything from public to private lives. This library covers consumer and automotive items, like speakers and airbags, to communication infrastructure and industrial goods, like wireless networks and healthcare. In fact, the industrial goods category makes up nearly half of what the company produces, at 46 percent.

According to Analog, its devices help people to “sense, measure, power, connect, and interpret” the world. This may be with the help of converters — in which it is a market leader — or other items like amplifiers and interfaces. Either way, Analog’s objectives are ambitious: It wants to create solutions that build smarter and stronger machines, streamline a more positive healthcare system, keep individuals safer and healthier in their everyday lives, and make the world more sustainable.

Analog Devices has invested about $4 billion in research and development, and has amassed more than 5,000 global patents. With those types of numbers and the aforementioned scope of its products, perhaps the company’s $5 billion in annual revenue shouldn’t raise any eyebrows. We’re totally kidding, though — that’s five billion with a B.

Raising the (power) bar

Now that you know a little bit more about what Analog does on a grand scale, it’s time to focus in on what it does in two important spheres: energy and water.

Analog’s technology is used by smart grid developers to create strong, reliable energy infrastructures. Like we mentioned earlier, signal processes can come from analog or digital sources, and in this case, smart grids use both. Analog’s microchips power meters that observe energy usage, operations that generated renewable power, and facilities for energy storage. They also allow developers to design systems that are efficient, communicative, and flexible.

Water, gas, and heat meters fall under this “energy” grid category, which is especially vital given their placement: These meters provide information from throughout the world. Analog’s meters, which number in the millions, are often placed in remote areas that are not easily accessible. But developers don’t sweat it. Why? They predict that the batteries don’t need to be replaced for decades.

Creating renewable energy and more access to clean water are complicated issues, but it’s no wonder that Analog has taken them on with successful results. After all, this is the company that figured out how to digitize light and sound a half-century ago — and that was long before any of us considered ourselves to be “tech savvy.” Given that Analog has committed itself to a future where innovative technology meets everyday needs, we’re sure to be in for even more impressive developments to come.

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