09-11-2017 | | By Paul Whytock
In my last column I mentioned that despite the relentlessly gloomy mainstream media Brexit machinations and perorative-prone politicians, electronics technology would always move ahead and that part of that pioneering success are the global collaborations that electronics related companies are renowned for.
Fortunately such collaborations or joint ventures do not require the influence of Brussels-based politicians to either make them happen or reach a successful conclusion. Generally speaking its best if politicians don’t get involved in things they have absolutely no understanding of; although of course that doesn’t seem to stop many of them trying.
News that technology collaborations are alive and well hit my desk every week and here are a few interesting ones that emerged recently.
British satellite communications company Immarsat has struck a partnership agreement that will see it develop what it describes as a comprehensive worldwide Internet of Things (IoT) network. Immarsat will be working with the JT group, the parent company of Jersey Telecom and Wave Telecom Limited.
The partnership is planning to deliver an IoT connectivity solution that will combine Inmarsat’s existing satellite communication infrastructure with cellular data provided by JT. This say the partners will mean Inmarsat’s customers will have access to a global connectivity network from a single provider to deliver the next generation of IoT technology.
In another partnership deal Bristol-based fabless semiconductor company XMOS has teamed up with eMeet, an electronic mobile meeting systems provider. XMOS VocalFusion voice technology has been chosen by the Shenzhen eMeet Technology Company for use with its mobile smart office assistant, eMeet OfficeCore M1. The system’s speaker uses a USB and Bluetooth connection with a mobile phone or laptop to create a conference call facility. XMOS VocalFusion technology was chosen for its ability to detect and isolate speech within eight metres in all directions.
Enabling the sysytem is the XMOS XVF3000 voice processor which uses acoustic echo cancellation to remove playback audio from the microphone signal. Automated noise suppression and de-reverberation technologies are used to remove unwanted noise and echoes in the captured signal. The microphone can also follow a voice as it moves around the room.
And this collaboration is only one of two that XMOS has landed recently. German chipmaker Infineon has decided it wants to develop its expertise in voice-controlled human machine interface and has invested in XMOS.
Infineon’s long-term theory behind the investment is that in a few years’ time about 30 billion devices will be connected to the (IoT). Currently most of the communication between man and machines is generally done by hand but the German chipmaker believes this will all change and the future will see voice communication between man and his machine. The voice-related technology developed by XMOS will obviously play a part in bringing about this transition.
And its not only XMOS that has been busy riding the collaborative highway. In a second collaborative deal Infineon has partnered with Smart Wires, a specialist in grid optimisation solutions. There is no doubt that today’s grids are under considerable pressure as utility companies demand evermore cheaper and flexible solutions for the integration of renewable energies. New lines and other upgrades are expensive and not always a practical solution and this is not helped by the fact that many power grids were built without valves to control the flow of power for higher efficiency.
Infineon feels the way around these difficulties is SmartValve from Smart Wires that provides accurate control of power flows on transmission lines. Increasing or decreasing the power flowing through a transmission line, it serves as a valve and can be controlled via the utility’s energy management system.
So there we have it. International technology collaborations that have been organized between electronics companies without any political or bureaucratic shenanigans.