Wireless Systems Design

Wireless Gadgets Headline The Holiday

The December issue is our favorite issue to produce. Thanks to the holiday season, the impressive nature of consumer products always reaches a deafening pitch. We actually get to focus on those end products, and not just the technology that makes them possible.

This month, you will find some of the latest wireless gadgets peppered throughout the pages of Wireless Systems Design. From the most innovative wearable-wireless products to this season's slew of robotic toys, we have worked tirelessly to make you aware of the true impact of wireless technology on some varied—albeit fun—application areas. You may even get an idea or two for last-minute holiday presents.

For our more sensible-minded readers, we've even included items like a new optical lens and an antenna-based credit-card replacement device. This gadget hails from the U.K.-based Optical Antenna Solutions (OAS) (www.opticalantennasolutions.com), with collaboration from scientists at Warwick University. The optical antenna is so precise that it can search for a signal on just one wavelength of light. While gathering that signal, it claims to be 100 times more efficient than any other optical sensor of its kind. The result is a device that significantly reduces credit-card fraud, while allowing consumers to make secure purchases using devices like mobile phones.

How exactly does this credit-card-free, point-and-pay technology work? OAS' device picks up at the point when a credit card would normally be handed over to a cashier. The antenna is inserted into the mobile phone to be read as part of the infrared port. Instead of a credit card being swiped, the antenna is pointed toward an infrared port located on a cash register. The user enters a personal security code on the nine-digit keypad. The OAS antenna then captures the light signal, which carries the data required to authorize the transaction. The data is exchanged with the cash register. Once the information is confirmed, the mobile phone and the infrared reader on the cash register give a virtual 'handshake' via the two infrared ports. The transaction is complete, and an electronic receipt is issued as proof of purchase.

In Korea, live trials of the antenna—also applicable in PDAs and printers—are currently underway. Further trials are planned for Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Whoever said IrDA—the infrared standard upon which the OAS optical antenna is based—was dead? Send me your thoughts at [email protected] In the meantime, from all of us at Wireless Systems Design to all of you, here's wishing you a happy holiday season and a prosperous and successful New Year. :)

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