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.

Communicating data in the IoT

The Internet of Things is evolving to provide greater intelligence at the node, converting raw data into smart information. With less data to communicate, it becomes more cost-effective to integrate low power RF transceivers into the node module. Certification to wireless protocol standards ensures interoperability and the emergence of open tools will make support for these standards less onerous to developers.

Enabling robust data communications within a high voltage BMS

The primary purpose of the battery management system (BMS) is achieving reliability, performance and longevity of battery packs. As part of this, the battery management electronics measures each cell voltage and transmits this information to a central processor. For high voltage battery strings – such as is typical for automotive drivetrains –a modular distributed pack is an attractive choice. Battery modules can serve as the basic building block for multiple pack designs. Modules also allow for optimal weight distribution and maximum use of available space. The biggest challenge is the datalink required to operate the pack as a single unit.

New technologies widen touchscreen opportunities

A quiet revolution is taking place in the projected capacitive touchscreen market. Rapid industry developments are delivering touchscreens which are thinner, higher performance, more reliable and lower cost. The impetus behind many of these developments is the fact that indium tin oxide (ITO), the long standing conductive material of choice for phone and tablet touchscreens, has limitations and consequently is being superseded by alternative materials. ITO has never been widely used in large format AV and kiosk applications, but some of the technologies that are being developed to replace it could.

Data centre interconnect drives optical module advances

The huge growth in demand for video, cloud services and social networking is changing almost everything about the way the networks are built and used, not least the interconnect technologies within data centres and the ‘top of rack’ network switches that shift packets between the optical internet boxes – or Data Centre Interconnect (DCI) – and the servers that store and process the data.

Irish company pioneers the development of 94GHz RF circuits for a range of applications

It wasn’t too long ago that GHz frequencies were regarded as exotic; few applications took advantage of that part of the spectrum as technology was not only difficult, but also expensive. That meant that military dominated the few applications there were. The Brimstone missile is believed to use 94GHz technology for targeting purposes, rather than the lasers used in previous missiles.

RF tests are the basis for V2X

Wireless technologies are being used to connect vehicles, but in order to ensure that messages are received accurately, developers need to adhere to minimum standards.

Addressing the need for ultra-small ambient light sensors in wearable products

In today’s wearable health and fitness market, where consumer electronic backlight displays continue to get thinner, having an ambient light sensor (ALS) capable of being integrated into the thinnest backlight displays is becoming ever more important to designers of these devices. The proliferation of cell phones and the demand for a better user experience has driven a higher adoption rate of ALS in touchscreen smartphones. In these display management applications, automatically controlling the backlight intensity with an ALS ensures the best possible user experience while extending battery life.

Linear Technology's Bruce Hemp and James Wong bring ease of use to microwave radio design

Bandwidth is rapidly expanding in the next generation wireless access to cope with the ever-increasing Internet traffic. At the same time, the current available spectrum in use simply cannot support the needed bandwidth. So higher frequency spectrums are being evaluated for suitability. Multiple options are considered, ranging from unlicensed 5.8GHz terrestrial stations, to fleets of low-orbit satellites that blanket the earth. The path to higher bandwidth lies with new higher frequencies to deliver on that promise. New mixers with improved performance will be needed. A new mixer, the LTC5549 from Linear Technology, is launched to support this effort.

Addressing key challenges in automotive infotainment test with the NI PXI Platform

Automobiles have experienced rapid growth in the amount of in-vehicle electronics in recent years and a key area where these electronics are playing a vital role is in the infotainment system of the vehicle. In fact, the infotainment systems have become somewhat of a hub for a number of functions of the vehicle, and represent where both large amounts of information and driver entertainment are converging. Not only do they continue to blur the line between the driver’s mobile phone and the car for entertainment purposes, but there is also an overlap with important components of advanced driver assistant systems (ADAS).

While smart textiles for wearables remains in its infancy, its potential is huge

E-textiles or smart garments, smart clothing, electronic textiles, smart textiles, or smart fabrics; whatever the definition, they all have a digital component or electronics embedded within them. While it may still be in its infancy, it is a fast growing market with new capabilities being developed that will enable users to interact with their surroundings and to communicate data via embedded sensors or conductive yarn through the clothes they wear.

Tracking WiFi signals to passively see through walls using NI USRP and LabVIEW

With dedication and a creative approach, University College London (UCL) research is helping to address the world's most urgent problems. Whether designing healthier cities or grappling with issues such as global health and climate change, the challenges of daily life inspire UCL students and academics. Based at UCL, our team of electrical engineering researchers is investigating passive radar technologies that can see through walls using WiFi radio waves.

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