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Industry Update-November 2018

Oct. 26, 2018
Astronics CSC Ships its 10,000th Cabin Wireless Access Point

Milestone affirms Astronics’ position as the leading provider of wireless access points for commercial aircraft

EAST AURORA, NY—Astronics Corporation, a provider of advanced technologies for the global aerospace, defense, and semiconductor industries, announced in September that its wholly owned subsidiary, Astronics Connectivity Systems and Certification, has shipped more than 10,000 cabin wireless access points (CWAPs) to enable inflight connectivity systems on aircraft. With this milestone, Astronics’ CWAPs serve as the most broadly accepted 802.11ac CWAPs in the market today.

Cohu completes acquisition of Xcerra

POWAY, CA—Cohu, Inc. announced the completion of its acquisition of Xcerra Corporation on Oct. 1. The combination creates a global leader in back-end semiconductor equipment and services, and printed circuit board test with a breadth of products that are unmatched in the industry.

“The acquisition of Xcerra accelerates our strategy to diversify our product offerings and customer base, expanding Cohu’s addressable market to approximately $5 billion across semiconductor test and handling equipment, thermal subsystems, test contacting, vision inspection, MEMS, and PCB test,” said Luis Müller, Cohu’s President and CEO. “This combination also further strengthens our ability to fully capitalize on the growth opportunities in our key target markets of automotive, industrial, IoT and communications. Although softening in the mobility market combined with current geopolitical uncertainty are creating near-term headwinds, we remain confident about the long-term growth opportunities in these markets as well as our ability to deliver on our synergy goals and to profitably grow Cohu in the years ahead.”

The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to non-GAAP earnings per share and generate over $20 million of annual run-rate cost synergies within 2 years of closing, excluding stock-based compensation and other charges. Cohu expects to achieve an additional $20 million of annual run-rate synergies over the three to five-year mid-term from products and facilities consolidation.

Crowd-counting through walls using Wi-Fi

An innovative use of Wi-Fi could make crowd estimating a snap—even through walls.

Santa Barbara, CA—Researchers in UC Santa Barbara professor Yasamin Mostofi’s lab have given the first demonstration of crowd counting through walls using only everyday communication signals such as Wi-Fi. The technique, which requires only a wireless transmitter and receiver outside the area of interest, could have a variety of applications, including smart energy management, retail business planning and security.

“Our proposed approach makes it possible to estimate the number of people inside a room from outside,” said Mostofi, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC Santa Barbara. “This approach utilizes only Wi-Fi RSSI measurements and does not rely on people to carry a device.”

Their research findings appeared in the 2018 IEEE PERCOM conference, as well as in their other related publications such as 2018 IEEE SECON and 2018 IEEE SAM.

In the team’s experiments, one Wi-Fi transmitter and one Wi-Fi receiver are behind walls, outside a room in which a number of people are present. The room can get very crowded with as many as 20 people zigzagging each other. The transmitter sends a wireless signal whose received signal strength (RSSI) is measured by the receiver. Using only such received signal power measurements, the receiver estimates how many people are inside the room—an estimate that closely matches the actual number. It is noteworthy that the researchers do not do any prior measurements or calibration in the area of interest; their approach has only a very short calibration phase that need not be done in the same area.

This development builds on previous work in the Mostofi Lab, which has pioneered sensing with everyday radio frequency signals such as Wi-Fi, with several publications in this area since 2009. For instance, their 2015 paper showed crowd counting without relying on people to carry a device, but with the transmitter and receiver in the same area as the people.

“However, enabling through-wall crowd counting is considerably more challenging due to the high level of attenuation by the walls,” Mostofi said. Her lab’s success in this endeavor is due to the new proposed methodology they developed.

Keysight, Nokia collaborate to verify 5G coverage in live test network

The smoke emanating from industrial smokestacks could be used to procure materials to make batteries.

SANTA ROSA, CA—Keysight Technologies, a technology company that helps enterprises, service providers, and governments accelerate innovation to connect and secure the world, has announced a collaboration with Nokia to verify 5G coverage in a live test network using Keysight’s 5G field measurement solutions.

Nokia is a global leader in creating the technology to connect the world. The company has selected Keysight’s Nemo Outdoor field test solution, FieldFox spectrum analyzer, and Nemo Analyze as several of their preferred toolsets for the measurement of 5G new radio (NR) radio-wave propagation in the field, as well as verification of outdoor and indoor coverage across both sub-6GHz and mmWave frequency ranges. Keysight’s solutions also help enable Nokia to benchmark new software releases and features in the network and validate the quality of the company’s 5G network solutions.

“5G NR leverages massive MIMO and beamforming capabilities, which need to be extensively tested in a field environment,” said Erkka Ala-Tauriala, head of cloud development services at Nokia. “Keysight’s 5G field measurement solutions help our field verification teams verify feature performance and ensure proper functionality prior to network deployment. A single, portable solution capable of measuring both mmWave and sub-6GHz frequency ranges, allows us to verify 5G coverage in both indoor and outdoor environments.”

Keysight’s 5G field measurement solution provides a complete measurement system for mmWave radio propagation. It includes the software and hardware needed to collect, analyze and visualize data, as well as generate statistical information that can easily be shared across an organization. Keysight’s Nemo Outdoor is a scalable field test solution for measuring radio interface parameters in wireless networks. Keysight’s FieldFox is a handheld RF and microwave analyzer, covering frequencies from 4 to 50GHz. Nemo Analyze is a post-processing solution for analyzing and visualizing field measurement results.

“We’re pleased that Nokia selected Keysight’s 5G field measurement solutions to help their field verification teams better understand the characteristics of mmWave and sub-6GHz radio propagation and support their commitment to quality,” said Kai Ojala, head of Nemo measurement solutions at Keysight Technologies.

New battery gobbles up carbon dioxide

A new type of battery developed by researchers at MIT could be made partly from carbon dioxide captured from power plants. Rather than attempting to convert carbon dioxide to specialized chemicals using metal catalysts, which is currently highly challenging, this battery could continuously convert carbon dioxide into a solid mineral carbonate as it discharges.

While still based on early-stage research and far from commercial deployment, the new battery formulation could open up new avenues for tailoring electrochemical carbon dioxide conversion reactions, which may ultimately help reduce the emission of the greenhouse gas to the atmosphere.

The battery is made from lithium metal, carbon, and an electrolyte that the researchers designed. The findings are described today in the journal Joule, in a paper by assistant professor of mechanical engineering Betar Gallant, doctoral student Aliza Khurram, and postdoc Mingfu He.

Currently, power plants equipped with carbon capture systems generally use up to 30 percent of the electricity they generate just to power the capture, release, and storage of carbon dioxide. Anything that can reduce the cost of that capture process, or that can result in an end product that has value, could significantly change the economics of such systems, the researchers say.

However, “carbon dioxide is not very reactive,” Gallant explains, so “trying to find new reaction pathways is important.” Generally, the only way to get carbon dioxide to exhibit significant activity under electrochemical conditions is with large energy inputs in the form of high voltages, which can be an expensive and inefficient process. Ideally, the gas would undergo reactions that produce something worthwhile, such as a useful chemical or a fuel. However, efforts at electrochemical conversion, usually conducted in water, remain hindered by high energy inputs and poor selectivity of the chemicals produced.

Gallant and her co-workers, whose expertise has to do with nonaqueous (not water-based) electrochemical reactions such as those that underlie lithium-based batteries, looked into whether carbon-dioxide-capture chemistry could be put to use to make carbon-dioxide-loaded electrolytes—one of the three essential parts of a battery—where the captured gas could then be used during the discharge of the battery to provide a power output.

This approach is different from releasing the carbon dioxide back to the gas phase for long-term storage, as is now used in carbon capture and sequestration, or CCS. That field generally looks at ways of capturing carbon dioxide from a power plant through a chemical absorption process and then either storing it in underground formations or chemically altering it into a fuel or a chemical feedstock.

Instead, this team developed a new approach that could potentially be used right in the power plant waste stream to make material for one of the main components of a battery. EE

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