Challenges in Electronics


Research and

Technology Inc.

Innovation from DC to light

We have a Solution.

This press release talks about nanoelectronic breakthrough products we are developing that offer solutions to some of the most serious problems the industry faces.

involving new discoveries and advances in quantum nanoelectronics. 

The project addresses this issue of improving the reliability of electronics, in virtually every field of electronics from self-driving cars to aerospace, from home theatre to medical electronics to emergency response equipment and a host of other applications.  We are also addressing increases in performance of

Mercedes B200 automatic transmission control computer fails at less than 100,000 km.  Repair bill: $2552.12

As quoted here, automobile electronic systems are becoming extremely complex, and frequently contain 30 to 80 computers under the hood, including nearly 20 electronic control units for door locking and unlocking alone.  Some vehicles contain as many as 100 ECUs.  Each of the car’s electronic systems or devices can consist of 50 to 100 microprocessors and more than 100 sensors.

The attached Mercedes Benz Authorized Dealer service work order shows an out of warranty repair on a 2006 Mercedes Benz B200 when the electronics of the automatic transmission failed at 96,000 km.  Is electronics failure limited to Mercedes Benz?  Of course not.  No manufacturer is exempt, and though electronics do fail even on some of the best of vehicles, we think electronics should be able to do better.  Click on Mercedes repair to view the bill.

Tracking down failing electronic components

Electronic repair begins by finding what component is failing.  Here’s an article from Insight Analytical Labs entitled Electronics Component Failure Analysis - Isolating Failing Components by Derek Snider, a failure analysis engineer at Insight.  This link will open in a new window.

Insight Analytical Labs, Inc. is an Electronics Failure Analysis Company in Colorado Springs CO.

EAG Inc. (EAG Laboratories) is a global scientific services company.

Eight Extreme Electronic failures

Here’s a link to an article in PC World magazine entitled Technology Fails: 8 Extreme Electronic Disasters, by J.R. Raphael. This link will open in a new window.

PC World is a publication of IDG Communications, Inc.

Reducing the Cost of System Failures

Here’s an article referenced earlier from Electronic Component News, entitled Reducing System Failure Costs, by Taqi Mohiuddin, Senior Director, Marketing, Evans Analytical Group (EAG).  To quote from the article,  “The cost of an unplanned data center outage can reach $11,000 per minute”. 

Also, here is the white paper from EAG on the same topic, which gives further examples of the problem.  These links will open in a new window. 

Electronics Component News is a publication of Advantage Business Media.

disposing of millions of failed or obsolete circuit boards and equipment in landfills is a serious threat to the environment.  This is a staggering problem.  The US alone throws away 9.4 million tons of electronic waste every year.  Here are some facts from Earth

Can we reduce this worldwide waste problem by making equipment more reliable? 



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The Problem

Let’s face it, electronics fail, and for many different reasons. Sometimes it’s annoying, sometimes it can be costly, but sometimes it can even be life-threatening.  Let’s take a look at a few accident reports and industry studies that highlight this problem.  Yes, electronics manufacturers are doing their best given what they have to work with.  But we know we can do better. 

Operating on multiple avenues of approach, the industry has attempted to reduce such degradation and failure through a variety of external methods including extreme overdesign of circuits, sealing components in environmental coatings, encasing electronics in sealed enclosures, shock mounting boards, and adding components designed to absorb electrical pulses.

As a result of these efforts, failure of the individual components on circuit boards has reached very low levels, although components themselves continue to be subject to failure.

Equipment still fails far too frequently, with sometimes catastrophic results. Michael Barr, CTO and co-founder of Barr Group was recently quoted as saying, “We've demonstrated how as little as a single bit flip can cause the driver to lose control of the engine speed in real cars.”

Intermittents are especially problematic. These are the origin of the so-called “No Fault Found” issue when for example, a vehicle is brought into a dealer with a failure complaint. Intermittent problems often originate on the circuit board itself. Connectors, contacts, traces, controls, potentiometers, flex circuits etc. are subject to random failure.  It's been estimated that 70% or more of modern electronics failures stem from these sources.


As electronics becomes more and more sophisticated and deeply entrenched in the operation of mission critical systems, the impact of the seemingly random failure can become severe.

Old-school approaches try to solve the problem on the level of the problem. In a darkened room, everyone runs around trying to analyze the dark. Much better to do something completely unexpected – turn on a light.

IRTI is not affiliated with and has neither provided nor received any promotional consideration from any of the private companies or websites listed on this website.  Articles, documents or websites from them are provided for informational purposes only, and opinions expressed in them do not necessarily reflect the opinion of IRTI.

All images under license © Pexels, Adobe Stock.

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The Solution

At Imagine Research and Technology Inc. we are involved in a major research and development project with Purdue University and the University of Akron

electronic equipment.

Electronics has become indispensable to society around the world, and it has to work as reliably as possible.  It can even be a life-critical requirement.  Failure is unacceptable.  Read on to take a look a few examples of the problem.

But rather than just complaining about it or sweeping it under the rug, with this project we are offering a solution to some of the most serious of these problems.  Curious?  Click here to read the Press Release.


The Environmental Impact of Electronics

And then there are the environmental issues surrounding electronic equipment.  Electronic manufacturing itself produces some major pollution issues, and

The materials we are developing are environmentally benign.  And if equipment is more reliable and lasts longer, we can have a positive impact. 

This planet is small, and we have a responsibility to it and to leaving a proud legacy for our children and grandchildren.  Can we achieve it?  We think so.

Earth is a division of Quest Resource Holding Corporation.


Tesla Model 3 Electronic Concerns

Click here to read the article.

The Verge is a web publication of Vox Media Inc.

article by weekend editor Andrew Liptak. It discusses the writer’s concerns with Tesla’s plans for introduction of an all-electronic vehicle.  In the writer’s experience, electronics simply isn’t reliable enough to trust it to this degree.

Vox Media publication The Verge, a web publication that examines how technology will change life, published this

Boeing 747 Accident Investigation Reveals

Serious Electrical Failures

Click here to download the PDF report.

Science 2.0 is a website of ION Publications LLC.

August 17 2012 a large number of serious electrical faults occurred after an engine failure in Boeing 747-4H6  9M-MPL.  This article by Patrick Lockerby appeared on the Science 2.0 website April 12, 2014.


An accident report published April 11 2014 by the AAIB - the UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch - reveals that on

GM Recalls Electronic Sensor

GM said in a statement that it is also recalling "33 model year 2014 Chevrolet Corvettes in the U.S. because an internal short-circuit in the sensing and diagnostic module (SDM) could disable frontal air bags, safety belt pretensioners and the Automatic Occupancy Sensing module."

In a report in Automotive News, GM is recalling 2014 and 2015 Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra, Chevy Suburban and Tahoe, GMC Yukon, and Yukon XL models to fix a part in the sensing and diagnostic module that controls vehicle air bags. The part was "suspect," says Automotive News.

The Hidden Threat of Electronic Intermittents

Intermittent failures are one major problem area that is traditionally very hard to address.  Such failures result in “no-fault-founds” when taken to the dealer.  But they are a problem that carry a hidden threat - they can become serious as control of the vehicle is gradually taken over more and more extensively by self driving systems.

In an era of billion dollar safety recalls, manufacturers are competing to provide the most advanced features and capabilities to their vehicles at an affordable cost. When these features and capabilities are implemented improperly, safety issues and recalls will occur.  This paper by the University of Maryland Centre for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering analyzes such needs.

Ticket Issued After City Parking System Server Crashes

Research found himself unable to pay for a web-based parking spot in downtown Edmonton.  He was then issued a $50 parking ticket while the server was down.

Whyte said, “The city operates a parking system in which one pays for street parking online via a smart-phone based app.  You first have to prepay for a block

It’s hard to escape the hilarious irony in this one.  After the Edmonton

of time on your account.  Then whenever you park, you log in to the parking authority’s web server via the app, register where you’re parked, and the clock starts running.  The amount of credit on your account gets reduced until you top it up again.  So in fact they already have my money sitting in their system.

“On Friday August 18 2017, I had a lunch meeting in downtown Edmonton.  I parked nearby, left the vehicle and went to my meeting.  On the way, I tried to log in to the parking server but got a message that the server was down.  I knew I needed to take note of this situation, because if I actually got a parking ticket I would have some kind of proof that I was in fact trying to pay for it but was blocked by their online system.  I naturally assumed that if the server was down, the parking patrol person would get automatically alerted that there may be vehicles parked that couldn’t log in, and to stop issuing tickets for that time period.

“In any case, throughout the meeting, I tried every 10 minutes or so to log in without success.  Finally after my meeting was done and I was walking one of the people back to their office, I was able to log in.  I then immediately paid for my parking spot.

“When I got back to my car about 10 minutes later, sure enough there was a $50 ticket on my windshield.

“If you’re going to operate an electronics-based system like this, the server has to be as bullet proof as possible.  And if it does go down, you should be taking the responsibility to waive parking tickets for honest citizens who are clearly trying to be responsible.

“The hilarious thing here is that my company is developing patented systems to help deliver the kind of reliability that it appears the Edmonton Parking Authority desperately needs.  Electronics has failed us yet again.”

Parking ticket issued 17-08-18, 13:55

Screen shot of server problem. Time stamp on photo:

17-08-18, 13:40

Parking Authority’s web server went down, Doug Whyte, CEO of Imagine

The Top Operational Risks for Business

A Jan 2017 study commissioned by FM Global, one of the world’s largest business property insurers, and conducted by CFO Research Services revealed the top operational risks for business.  Number one on that list was equipment failure.  The research was based on responses received during late 2016 from 100 CFOs or most senior financial executives at U.S.-based companies, the majority of whom are from Fortune 1000 organizations across a wide variety of industries.

The study found that 66% of financial executives surveyed said their organizations have been harmed by equipment failure.  Read about it here, as reported in Canadian Underwriter Magazine.

FM Global is a Rhode Island-based mutual insurance company, with offices worldwide, that specializes in loss prevention services primarily to large corporations throughout the world in the Highly Protected Risk (HPR) property insurance market sector.  FM Global has been named the "Best Property Insurer in the World” by Euromoney Magazine.

CFO Research delivers access and industry expertise to companies seeking to reach senior decision makers in finance.

Canadian Underwriter Magazine reports on issues of concern to the insurance industry.

BMW with stuck electronic gas pedal

barrels down Florida freeway

We thought you might find this news article rather interesting.  It's about a failure in the electronic gas pedal of a BMW in Florida.  It appears from the article that the unit failed, causing the vehicle to accelerate almost out of control. 

An electronic gas pedal is an example of a so-called “drive-by-wire” electronic control system in a modern vehicle.  It is an automotive mission-critical system.  Mission-critical systems cannot fail, because lives are at stake.  Why should anyone have to worry when they get in their car that it will fail and accelerate uncontrollably?

State police even had to lay spike chains across the driving lanes in an attempt to puncture the tires of the vehicle, which obviously is risky both for the police officers, other vehicles on the road and the BMW driver himself.

It was also interesting to read BMW’s prepared statement that, “This is an ‘improbable' scenario."  Time for industry to wake up.