June 22, 2011, 12:08 PM — When you get a new desktop, notebook computer, or even a printer or other peripheral, the front or top often sports a few stick-on logos touting the technology inside, like "Windows 7 Certified," "Intel Inside," Bluetooth, WiFI, etc.
But if you've ever looked at the bottom of your notebook or the back of your desktop PC (and/or on the packaging and in the documentation), especially one made within the last few years, you see a different checkerboard of little icons -- a.k.a. "marks," like UL, CE, FCC, TUV, RoHS, ENERGY STAR, and more.
Many companies also post product certification marks on their website. Panasonic, for example, includes certification information for its Toughbook rugged portable computers (select any of the "Solutions by Industry" entries, e.g., "Field Service," and you'll see a "Certifications" entry).
Even the humble AC power supply and humbler power cord sport at least one or two such marks. (The one for the Lenovo IdeaPad U260, for example, has so many it fills an entire side, like the tats on Ray Bradbury's Illustrated Man.)
And while product safety certifications apply to hardware, even software developers need to be aware of them. Hardware design can impact functions like wireless connectivity and sensitivity; software design can impact power, heat and cooling activity, etc. -- or call for more hardware oomph than is legal.
Here's an introduction and overview to get you started understanding product certifications, their importance, and how they relate to product design and development cycle planners (along with resellers and buyers).