Imagine what life would be like if we had no perspective of time. If all days, months, and years were regarded as the same, and if we had no way to distinguish the past from the present or future. Much to the contrary, however, we not only have a keen sense of time, but in many respects, the gridwork we stretch over the fourth dimension pervades everything we do. And so we mark the beginning of a new year, re-energized with new goals and new directions.

This year, like always, the editors of Motion System Design have several surprises in store for you. For starters, you'll notice a new look and some new faces in the magazine. Our website, www.motionsystemdesign.com, has been freshened up as well with the addition of an on-line service that extends the learning that begins in print.

A good example of how this service will work is found on page 28. There you'll see an article on control platforms, the first installment in our 2007 “Productivity Forum” series. Some of the information we gathered for that is presented exclusively on-line through a link in a special section called the Knowledge FAQtory. We plan on updating links here frequently, so you'll want to drop in often.

A little deeper into the issue, on page 32, is another new offering, an article series on machine vision. Many of you have asked for more information on this topic, so we're bringing you “Lessons in Vision,” a yearlong series that will address the critical components in a vision system. With an emphasis on applied sensing, the new series will help you determine if vision is right for your application and the steps you must take to implement it.

Appearing on page 26, yet another first, is a new series called “Engineering Extremes.” During alternating months we will consider the challenges posed by two extreme classes of motion — oscillatory and low-speed movements. This month, Senior Editor, Elisabeth Eitel, looks at the issues and complexities related to ball and lead screws operating at low feed rates.

Also on tap for 2007 is a series called Mechatronic Solutions. The first installment, scheduled next month, will focus on 3D path following. In subsequent months, we will examine different classes of motion that lend themselves to an interdisciplinary design approach.

Though the series is new, the mechatronic design philosophy has permeated Motion System Design's editorial coverage for the past 10 years. My interest in the topic actually goes back further than that. In fact, some of the mechatronic articles I wrote as far back as 1990 — to which you'll find links in our Knowledge FAQtory — are still relevant if not forward-looking today.

I mentioned some new faces. One is that of our new art director, Walt Wagner. Walt's resume is long and distinguished; he's also a U.S. Army Veteran who served with the 1st Signal Brigade in Can Tho, Vietnam from 1969 to 1971. Feel free to thank him for his service. I'm sure there are lots of other things he would have rather been doing during that time.

Another new face in the magazine is that of Senior Editor, Frances Richards. Actually, Frances was with us before, and her triumphant return is bringing immediate improvements. Next month, she will launch a new department called “World in Motion.” Here, she will investigate how common products employ motion technology and what engineers must go through to sell their ideas up the line and into production.

One other new feature for 2007 is a quarterly supplement called “Programmable Automation.” As much as the early mechatronic coverage pointed to today's technology, the “Programmable Automation” coverage heralds what's in store for motion-centric manufacturing in the next five to 20 years. If you want to skate to where the puck is going, rather than where it sits or where it's been, you'll want to lock it in with Motion System Design and motionsystemdesign.com.

Enjoy the issue and be sure to check out the links in the Knowledge FAQtory.