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Adding comms value

Getting access to connectivity has never been easier. By Philip Ling.

The concept of ‘communications’ can leave some people cold; it conjures up an image of dusty and verbose standards so convoluted that they flow about as well as treacle on a cold day.
For some standards, this isn’t far from the truth. But, in most instances, it’s simply down to necessity; for a standard to fulfil its obligations, it often needs to be dictatorial about its implementation and to cover all contingencies.
Reality is that all embedded devices feature some kind of communication – even if it’s a proprietary standard confined to the boundaries of the design. So implementing a standard isn’t really the problem: it’s interpreting it.
Misinterpreting a standard is worse than not implementing it in the first place, particularly when the device implementing the standard needs to pass independent qualification. It’s here that commercial solutions can help and a definite trend in the past few years has been to offer prequalified modules comprising both hardware and software for a particular specification. A good case in point is Bluetooth, which is now available in the form of fully integrated modules and, increasingly, single chip solutions.
A typical application where value is being added by supplying compliant solutions is wireless connectivity. From gsm and gprs, to WiFi and – increasingly – WiMAX, there is a market for plug ’n’ play wireless modules. Simply put, interpreting a standard doesn’t add as much value to an end product as implementing it, so the trend here is to buy off the shelf, certified solutions for integration into larger products.

Philip Ling

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