EMC and the IEC
Do you ever stop to wonder why you are asked to turn off mobile phones and electronic games in an aircraft or hospital, where there are a host of other electrical and electronic systems on which many people's lives may depend?
TV screen covered in "snow"
Or is your favourite radio programme obliterated by interference? TV screen covered in 'snow' when someone uses an unsuppressed vacuum cleaner or electric drill nearby? Most of the older generation will still remember such problems, even if today (thanks in part to IEC International Standards) they very largely have been overcome.
Examples like these illustrate what is called electromagnetic compatibility (EMC).
In simple terms, EMC describes the ability of electronic and electrical systems or components to work correctly when they are close together. In practice this means that the electromagnetic disturbances from each item of equipment must be limited and also that each item must have an adequate level of immunity to the disturbances in its environment.
EMC concerns us all
The aim of EMC is to ensure the reliability and safety of all types of systems wherever they are used and exposed to electromagnetic environments. So EMC development is closely linked with that of the whole field of electrical and electronic engineering.
The subject concerns all of us, not only those in industry who develop, test and manufacture equipment but also those more 'on the receiving end' who rely on, for example, the omnipresent electronic elements in heart pacemakers, ABS vehicle braking systems, laptop computers or air traffic control systems.
It is therefore only natural that the IEC, with the global coverage of its standards and other technical publications, should have been deeply involved with EMC for many decades.
It is inevitably becoming even more so.