In the last decade or more we’ve seen the proliferation of consumer-oriented wireless devices. These devices use technologies such as Wifi (802.11) and Bluetooth (802.15.1) to achieve long range and/or very low power functionality. As these technologies are perfected, they are gradually making their way into smaller, less expensive devices like cell phones, headsets, mp3 players and the list continues. These standards however are not going to create the next wireless boom. Look out for something much smaller in much higher quantities.
The ARC Advisory Group predicts “The market for wireless devices and equipment in process manufacturing will grow to over $1.1B in 2012, a growth rate of 32% per year…” They go on to explain the reason for this large growth is due to large reductions on installation cost. As an engineering company, we see many semiconductor manufacturers coming out with new wireless chips and modules. There are two large paradigm shifts in how wireless devices are being designed that we’ve noticed in the last 5-7 years. The first is one-chip radio solutions where only a single chip (IC) is required to provide wireless functionality. The second is called a System-on-a-Chip or SoC and refers to a one-chip radio and microcontroller solution. This allows the system designer to not only add wireless functionality to their device, but integrate it into the existing “brain” or microcontroller that was already in their system. Essentially, they’re consolidating what used to be many chips into a single one. This integration lowers the cost to develop, certify (regulatory compliance) and manufacture a device.
Here is a device that has USB 2.0, a UHF radio transceiver, a Microcontroller, AES Encryption all on a single chip the size of your fingernail!! Imagine the possibilities!
These new SoCs also have several other interesting benefits. The two most notable are that of size reduction and power consumption. By integrating the wireless and processing “blocks” into a single chip and sometimes even the same die, the chip manufacturers are able to drastically reduce the chips footprint. The SoCs are also able to share some functionality thereby saving power. Furthermore, advances in semiconductor manufacturing technologies have allowed the chips to be manufactured using a newer semiconductor process. This new process helps the chips to run at higher speeds while consuming less power.
So why is all this important to you as our client? These new advances allow for many product ideas that may’ve previously been impossible now very possible. The new wireless boom isn’t limited to industrial uses. There are already entrepreneurs putting these devices to use in the most obscure of places. Some of the ideas we’ve heard include winery humidity monitoring, soil moisture monitoring, personal sensor networks, road, bridge, and building monitoring.
Come up with an idea and give us a call! We can help you find the best solution to ensure your product is sucessfull!Social tagging: radio > soc > wireless