mobile | classic  
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology Magazine





Follow us on:
Follow us on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn


Search...

Electronics Buyers' Guide

Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook 2017


 

Low-cost IoT breakthrough
19 April 2017, News, Electronics Technology

“A wireless technology breakthrough from product design and development firm, Cambridge Consultants, is bringing the vision of ‘smart dust’ a step closer to reality,” claims a recent statement by said company. “The idea of tiny sensors embedded in paint to constantly monitor the stress on aircraft during flight, for example, could move from the realms of science fiction into the brave new world of the Internet of Things (IoT).”

While such claims might commonly be dismissed as marketing hype, the firm in question does have an impressive pedigree. Cambridge Consultants has one of the world’s largest independent wireless development teams, with more than 150 experts working in areas ranging from ultra-low-power, short-range wireless connectivity to global satellite communication. During its 56-year history, it has helped clients develop technology ranging from the world’s first wireless implanted pacing system to the ground-to-air radio system controlling air traffic over the majority of the planet. “We kick-started the Bluetooth market by being the first in the world to create a single-chip Bluetooth radio – and now we will kick-start the IoT by being the first in the world to create a fully digital radio transmitter,” says Rob Milner, head of smart systems, by way of explaining the technology behind its latest innovation.

The key is a radical shift in the cost of the most expensive part of the Bluetooth Smart chips at the heart of every connected IoT device – the radio. Cambridge Consultants has used its all-digital radio technology Pizzicato to dramatically cut the silicon cost to what it claims is just 7 cents (British) – less than a tenth of the current cost. Getting rid of the analog element of silicon radios also means they can transcend current physical barriers, as well as directly benefit from Moore’s Law – further shrinking in size, cost and power consumption with each new generation. The technology was demonstrated at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, using a network of Bluetooth beacons based on Google’s Eddystone and Apple’s iBeacon ecosystems.

Today, this could be a case of making personal care truly personal. Instead of a ‘smart’ toothbrush that tells you how well you brush your teeth, the Bluetooth Smart chips would be small enough and cheap enough to embed in each individual throwaway toothbrush head – so the toothbrush would know, for example, how often each family member was brushing their teeth.

But in the future it could mean the chips would be small enough to become smart dust. This opens the door to embedding them in paint to monitor things like aircraft stress or how vehicles are being driven, and crash impacts to help with traffic accident investigations. Mountains could be seeded with tiny temperature sensors to act as an avalanche early-warning system, and fields could be sprayed with smart dust to give real-time information about soil temperature and moisture content. Around the home, smart paint in a room could measure temperature, humidity or noise – while you could print your own smart clothing labels that could be linked to personalised washing cycles.

“To date, the cost of a radio has been determined by its analog components – until you eliminate those, Bluetooth will always be limited by the price point,” says Milner. “By massively reducing the cost of a technology that has a long range and can communicate with the billions of connected devices already deployed, we’ve helped open up more scope for revenue-generating and disruptive digital services.”

Reducing the cost of Bluetooth chips is only the first step in Cambridge Consultants’ vision for an ultra-low-cost IoT. Next steps to mature the technology involve simplifying the overall product architecture by reducing the number of components and improving ease of assembly to achieve greater cost savings. Work on battery technology, passive electronics and product housing is also under way.

For more information visit www.cambridgeconsultants.com.


  Follow us on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn    

Further reading:

  • Electronics news digest
    19 April 2017, News
    Overseas    Companies • Apple dealt a blow to Imagination Technologies, and to its share prices, by announcing that it will no longer use Imagination’s intellectual property in its new products in 15 months ...
  • arei - from the chairman's desk
    19 April 2017, AREI, News
    The rumours were confirmed on 31 March 2017, but one has to wonder if this is just a lead up to a sick April Fool’s joke. Alas, there are no Zapiro cartoons in the Sunday papers with the words “Heh, Heh, ...
  • Company profile: Solve Direct Electronics
    19 April 2017, News
    And so it happened that, in 2014, he started Solve Direct Electronics as a 100% black owned (40% black women) business operating from Saab Grintek Defence’s premises in Highveld Techno Park, Centurion, ...
  • Mteto Nyati chosen to lead Altron
    19 April 2017, News
    Nyati was previously the CEO for MTN South Africa, having taken up the role in October 2014 after working at Microsoft South Africa since 2008. At Microsoft, he served as managing director for the South ...
  • From the editor's desk - Out with the old
    19 April 2017, Technews Publishing, News
    I once mistakenly credited President Jacob Zuma with having an underrated, though diabolical, sense of humour. That was back when he decided to split the former Department of Communications into a new, ...
  • Microchip pushes direct e-commerce via mobile
    19 April 2017, News
    Microchip Technology has débuted its updated, feature-rich and mobile-optimised e-commerce platform for purchasing microcontrollers, mixed-signal, analog, Flash-IP solutions and more. microchipDIRECT, ...
  • DesignSpark nets half a million users
    19 April 2017, RS Components (SA), Design Automation, News
    DesignSpark, an online electronics engineering community launched in 2010 by RS Components, recently welcomed its 500 000th member. The DesignSpark ecosystem offers online design resources and free ...
  • Electronics news digest
    22 March 2017, News
    Overseas    Business • For the first quarter of its fiscal year 2017, Analog Devices announced revenue totalling $984 million, down 2% sequentially but up 28% year-over-year. Revenue in its B2B markets ...
  • Online ordering is advancing, but not yet the norm
    22 March 2017, News
    Two local electronic component distributors and a leading security OEM share their insights on the popularity of online ordering platforms.
  • Training and facility upgrade at KZN solar module plant
    22 March 2017, News
    ARTsolar has implemented a certified training and facilities upgrade programme at the only South African owned photovoltaic manufacturing plant.
  • Chronicles of DesignCon 2017
    22 March 2017, Cirtech EDA, Manufacturing / Production Technology, Hardware & Services, News
    Cirtech EDA’s Nechain Naicker was appointed to DesignCon USA’s technical programme committee, and reports back on the conference.
  • New tech is the best tech, but not all old tech is bad
    22 March 2017, Technews Publishing, News
    Over recent years, new technologies have given us nifty new ways of interacting with our mobile devices. Novelties like touchscreens, motion detection and haptic feedback quickly became essential features ...

 
 
         
Contact:
Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronic Buyers Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Other
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual





 

         
    Classic | Mobile

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.