Posted by Laurence Marchini
It’s hardly surprising that both the Electronicstalk website and newsletter feature an abnormally high level of mobile communications related news this week. The annual bunfight that is the Mobile World Congress is in full swing in Barcelona, and (annoyingly for journalists like me) equipment manufacturers and component suppliers alike have saved up a good six months worth of news to release in less than a week.
And while we do make an effort to ensure that we report on all the significant news of the week, there have been one or two gems that are worthy of highlight.
First came the news that the Bluetooth Special Interest Group had decided to pursue a new track by creating a new high-speed Bluetooth “flavour” using IEEE802.11 technology. And while it is interesting to observe a group that began from a very specific wireless niche spread its tentacles ever further into the spectrum, the real intrigue for me is that the move appears to have been born out of its members’ impatience with the slow progress towards UWB standardisation.
So although work towards UWB will continue, driven by both the Bluetooth SIG and the WiMedia Alliance, the new strand of Bluetooth 802.11 wireless is likely to materialise months if not years before UWB. And, bearing in mind it is the Bluetooth SIG members (the vast majority of which are handset manufacturers) that have driven the move, it would appear there is a guaranteed future for any chipmaker willing to “follow the band”.
The second highlight so far for me has come in the form of a packaging technology. And while such an advance might not be headline news in Barcelona, the ability to produce plastic-packaged devices that integrate their own radio frequency screening will certainly appeal to every RF designer of my acquaintance.
The new technique, dubbed MicroShield, has been developed by RF Micro Devices, and you can read more about it in this week’s products, both on the Electronicstalk website and in the newsletter. And while the concept of screening individual components is far from new, to my knowledge it is the first time that anyone has managed to crack the concept of integrating the shield within a (relatively) low-cost plastic package.
Naturally, for the moment the company is keeping the technology to itself, and has used it in its latest RF components. However, any technology that threatens to turn wireless design into a “plug-and-play” exercise is surely destined for wider application.
This comment was originally published in the Electronicstalk Newsletter
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