Communications Technology

Connectivity is a key feature of modern embedded products. There’s a wide range of communications modes that can be used, but which is the best for your design? Should you use a wireless technology such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and, if so, which one should that be? Or would wired communication, such as Ethernet, be the best way forward?

In this section, New Electronics reviews the latest communications technologies and brings visitors to the website information on how these technologies are being applied.

Connecting to the Internet just got even easier, says the Bluetooth SIG

For the IoT to work as envisioned, devices need to be connected to the Internet. This can be achieved with Bluetooth Smart devices, which can send data to a cloud service, but currently only through hub devices with full OS and supporting drivers running a software stack. For developers, being able to take advantage of direct connectivity to the Internet is a key requirement to take the IoT beyond the hype and create real 'always connected' experiences.

Multi-touch interactivity is helping to redefine the in-store customer experience.

In the face of intense competition retailers are spending more on information technology, data analytics and digital marketing channels. Online shopping, social media platforms and mobile technologies are having a significant impact on the sector, permanently changing the way consumers shop. As a result, retailers need an omni-channel approach or they risk falling into anonymity and the retail graveyard!

RapidIO is being targeted at high performance computing applications as latency becomes a critical factor

The extent to which 'what goes around, comes around' applies to technology. Despite the impression that companies are forging a future based on brand new ideas, that's not always the case. And so it is with RapidIO, the packet switched interconnect technology developed in the early 2000s for use in high performance computing (HPC) applications. Despite this ambition, RapidIO found most success in the wireless infrastructure sector. But the wheel is turning full circle as RapidIO begins to make inroads into today's HPC applications – and data centres in particular.

Interconnection opportunities in the rail sector abound as investment booms

Rail is proving to be one of the most attractive and fast growing markets for the electronics industry. Deregulation, new leasing and financing schemes help to support operator demand for additional rail stock and the UK has an active rail market, with major investments in both large infrastructure projects and in rolling stock – HS2 and Crossrail are providing significant opportunities for both Tier 1 and Tier 2 manufacturers. UK manufacturers are also competing to win business in the Far East in the form of sub systems on the Beijing High Speed network, for example, and in the US with the proposed New York to California high speed rail link planned for delivery in 2020.

The test requirements for assessing VoLTE call quality

The wireless industry is making significant investments to implement Voice over LTE (VoLTE) in 4G LTE networks. Alongside the need to at least match the audio quality of 2G or 3G legacy networks, it is important to ensure that a VoLTE call consumes a comparable amount of power.

Powering mobile devices with ICs is becoming easier

Whilst low power precision components have enabled rapid growth of the mobile device market, those portable products targeted at industrial, medical and military applications typically have much higher standards for reliability, run time and robustness. Much of this burden falls on the power system and its components.

Applied Micro reaps the benefits of X-Gene ARMv8 processors

In 2010, Applied Micro made a strategic decision; courageous or foolhardy, depending upon where you sat in the communications processor world. That decision was to sign an architectural licence for ARM's 64bit v8 processor cores and to embark on the design of a multicore device.

Designing for rail: The importance of specifying the right connectors

The rail sector appears to be on the right track across Europe but particularly in the UK. HS2, which is still on the horizon, is a topic for much discussion, but there are plenty of major active projects. Highlights include: the Intercity Express Programme, that will see Hitachi bring new rolling stock for mainline services in three years; the ongoing Thameslink project that is cutting through (or under) the centre of London; and Crossrail, Europe's biggest infrastructure project, which will see new trains supplied by Bombardier.

Camera pill technology set to ease cancer diagnosis

Colonoscopies can be an uncomfortable procedure for patients who may already be worried about what the results may find. The process involves probing the large intestine with a tiny fibre optic camera, known as an endoscope, embedded in a 4ft long, flexible tube.

Virtual solution could spell the end for antennas

The fast pace of evolution of the wireless industry puts familiar time-to-market pressure on the engineering of every new mobile device. Being in the heart of every mobile product, the design of the RF front-end and, in particular, the antenna, becomes especially cumbersome - every product currently requires a fully customised antenna.

Fibre optic networks can provide the platform for security and monitoring

'Linear assets' is a term that covers anything from roads and railway to pipes and perimeter fences. Typically, these assets will have signage, sensors and equipment controlled from a single point somewhere along that asset, and that control data is transmitted through fibre optic cables These cables can also be used to provide low cost and accurate monitoring.

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