Electronic Design

Engineering The Wireless Future From RFID To 4G

Welcome to Electronic Design's third annual Wireless Everywhere issue. This edition comes at a time when 3G cellular is in full swing and other technologies such as Ultra-Wideband (UWB) and nearfield communications (NFC) are beginning to penetrate the market, much like the state of Wi-Fi several years ago. And no matter where you look, you'll see wireless devices all around.

Beginning with our Industry Techview, assistant editor Kristina Fiore delves into Nikola Tesla's wireless power initiatives and describes modern forays into this technology from Powercast and Fulton Innovation. She also explains MIT's research into this area, called WiTricity, which relies on magnetic induction to transfer power, but with an added component—resonance.

In the Analog & Power Techview, editor Don Tuite introduces Anadigm's Filter1 chip set. It combines the company's dynamically programmable Analog Signal Processor technology and a state machine so designers can quickly create a filter for frequencies from dc to 600 Hz.

Dan Harris introduces the EnOcean EVA120C wireless sensor kit in his Digital Techview. Powered by a solar cell, it can be used to develop a wireless sensor network to monitor such parameters as temperature, humidity, light levels, and pressure. He also goes into more depth on Fulton Innovation's eCoupled technology, which promises to charge cell phones, MP3 players, and other portable electronics when you lay them down, for example, on a charging tray.

In this issue's Engineering Feature, editor Lou Frenzel covers Ultra-Wideband and how it is changing the way people connect peripherals and home-entertainment equipment. Lou starts with UWB's application to wireless USB and takes off from there, explaining many of the applications possible with this exciting technology.

Speaking of UWB, Michael Foley, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, handles our Point of View and writes about the collision course of two major protocols, High Speed Bluetooth and Certified Wireless USB, which will use the same WiMedia UWB radio. He explains what differentiates these two technologies and how they might play out in the market.

Editor Bill Wong joins the party with two new wireless products in our Leapfrog department. You're probably familiar with Texas Instruments' Z430 development tool on a USB stick. The company's new eZ430-RF2500 combines the standard USB-based eZ430 debug module with a new RF target board, including a 16-bit MSP430F2274 microcontroller and a CC2500 RF transceiver.

The second Leapfrog goes right to the core of auto safety with Freescale's MPXY8300 tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). This system in a package includes an 8-bit microcontroller, a SmartMOS RF transmitter, and a pressure sensor—in other words, everything you need in a single chip to develop a TPMS.

In this issue's Embedded in Electronic Design, Bill covers the hot ZigBee arena, including Oki Semiconductor America's ML7065, Ember Technology's EM250, and Maxstream's XBee. Depending on your needs, Bill explains the pros and cons of these products.

Of course, the hottest wireless product on the planet is the Apple iPhone. Bill also writes about achieving better security in products such as this. Meanwhile, I've written about the recent high-profile hack by George Hotz, who modified his iPhone to work with the T-Mobile network even though it is intended to work only with AT&T's wireless network. You can find my blog at www.eepn.com/blog

In his Technology Report, Lou Frenzel covers 3G and 4G cellular technologies. AT&T, Sprint Nextel, and Verizon already offer 3G data services, which really gives meaning to the term Wireless Everywhere. No longer do you have to search for a wireless hotspot to connect to the Internet. With the use of a plug-in card, you can achieve a wireless connection practically anywhere you are. Lou writes about this as well as the faster 4G technologies on the horizon.

In Lou's Engineering Essentials report, he encourages engineers who may not have worked with wireless technologies before to jump into the game by untethering monitoring and control applications with short-range wireless links, such as Bluetooth, IrDA, ISM, Wi-Fi, and ZigBee. And, Lou rounds out his coverage with a Design FAQs on WiMAX products and services, sponsored by Futjitsu. If you're interested in the technical details of WiMAX, be sure to check it out. And, we thank Lou for all of his contributions to this year's issue.

If you haven't had enough of wireless technology by now, or if you want to advance your knowledge even further, our sister publication Microwaves and RF offers a series of six webcasts that covers many of the major wireless technologies and the challenges involved with testing them. You can find these webcasts at http://planetee.com/events/

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