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									      Re p o Rts

     Supercapacitors Boost
     Audio Power for Mobiles
               AP-XX new-generation supercapacitors will soon        Better Power Management
               be providing a significant audio power boost for         In BriteSound power architecture, a 2.4mm-thin, 0.55F,
               some of the best-known names in mobile devices.       85mΩ dual-cell CAP-XX supercapacitor delivers 5W
     Recently the company announced its BriteSound power             power-bursts to drive peak-power functions such as audio
     architecture for mobile phones, and in December it will         and LED Flash.
     publicly unveil its next-generation supercapacitors.               A battery covers the phone’s average audio power needs
       “In a BriteSound mobile phone,” said CAP-XX CEO               of 0.5 to 1W, recharging the supercapacitor between bursts.
     Anthony Kongats, “our supercapacitor provides a boost in        This leaves enough battery power to handle data transfers
     peak power which can double and sometimes triple audio          and network polls without compromising audio power,
     power for higher quality sound – while eliminating the          eliminating both distortion and clicks.
     buzzing and distortion that’s common when transmitting             The supercapacitor powers the audio amp at 5V,
     wireless data while listening to music. We are currently        compared to 3.6V directly from a battery, thereby doubling
     working with leading mobile-phone manufacturers and             peak audio power for full-sounding music with a strong
                                               expect the first      bass. It also reduces noise by supplying peak power with
                                               designs that are      less voltage drop than the battery would, and eliminates any
                                               power-boosted         217Hz buzz when a GSM/GPRS/EDGE phone transmits by
                                               by our new            protecting the audio amp from other peak loads the battery
                                               supercapacitors       supplies such as the RF power amp.
                                               to enter the world       Because the supercapacitor supplies high-peak currents,
                                               market in the         designers can use higher-quality 4Ω instead of standard 8Ω
                                               second half of        speakers, further doubling peak audio power.
     Quarter 2 Cap                             2008.”
                                                                     Hs, HW series
     10,000x More energy                                                CAP-XX’s high temperature series of supercapacitors are
        Supercapacitors deliver 100 times the power of batteries     similar to its general purpose supercapacitors, but target
     and store 10,000 times more energy than conventional            applications that need an increased environmental operating
     capacitors. They store electrical energy during periods of      range and/or a higher voltage rating.
     low-load power, and then release it in quick “bursts” during       The new HS and HW series supercapacitors feature
     peak-power events to supplement power from the source           a higher-boiling-point electrolyte that enables an
     and smooth out voltage fluctuations.                            industry-leading high-temperature threshold of 85°C.
        “Our supercapacitors are tiny but powerful. They benefit     These supercapacitors work reliably in devices where
     from a unique nanotechnology construction which packs the       nearby components can get very hot, such as RF power
     highest energy and power densities into thin, lightweight,      amps, which can reach 120°C during transmission. The
     prismatic packages that will fit into slim portable devices,”   supercapacitors offer long-life performance at up to 2.75V
     said Kongats. “They store charge on nanoporous carbon           in single-cell versions and 5.5V in dual-cell versions with
     electrodes on aluminum foil, arranged in multiple layers and    two devices connected in series. All devices operate from
     connected in parallel to minimize the resistance, optimize      -40 to +85°C.
     the surface area of the carbon and maximize the capacitance
     of the device.”                                                                                      by Neil Munro, Sydney

56    nikkei electronics AsiA | october 2007
Re p o Rts

Nordic to Extend Reach
with ULP Bluetooth
           ordic Semiconductor ASA, a Norway-based a             nRF24xxx series), these are proprietary solutions which
           fabless semiconductor company specializing in         are not interoperable with transceivers from other
           2.4GHz low-power wireless solutions, is turning       manufacturers, and proprietary technology is also unable to
to the upcoming ultra low lower (ULP) Bluetooth standard         communicate with Bluetooth wireless technology currently
for the company’s next phase of growth.                          embedded into millions of handsets and PCs.
                    ULP Bluetooth is a ULP RF technology            Bonnerud said that, in order to promote the mass
                 operating in the 2.4GHz band based on           adoption of ULP wireless technology, there is a need for
                 Wibree technology developed by Nokia and        an open standard offering true ULP wireless connectivity.
                 other companies. It will be an extension to     “Historically, only open standards have achieved mass
                 the Bluetooth specifications, following an      adoption because they enable a broad array of competitive
                 announcement in June 2007 that the Wibree       yet interoperable products and services, and enable
                 Forum will merge with the Bluetooth             competition between silicon vendors. Open standards
                 Special Interest Group (SIG).                   organizations such as Bluetooth SIG have resources to build
                    Nordic has developed a number of             a strong brand name for the technology and to position the
                 proprietary ULP wireless technologies, such     brand in the minds of the consumers.”
Larsen           as a ULP 2.4GHz radio which offers a range
of up to 20m, and a data-rate from 250kbps to 2Mbps.             Dual-Mode, Big Market
                                                                    According to Bonnerud, there will be two implementations
Perfect Fit                                                      of ULP Bluetooth: stand-alone and dual-mode. Stand-alone
   Svenn-Tore Larsen, CEO of Nordic, said the upcoming           implementations are optimized to provide compact, low-
ULP Bluetooth standard is a natural extension of its             cost and ULP transceivers. They typically operate with low
business, not only because the company has been involved         duty cycles, entering ULP idle and sleep modes, to wake up
in the development of Wibree since the very beginning, but       periodically for a communication “burst”, and also feature
also because it is already a leading vendor of ULP 2.4GHz        a number of user interface profiles including sensor, HID,
technology in the key market segments that ULP Bluetooth         and watch, etc.
will serve.                                                         In dual-mode implementations, the functionality of ULP
   “ULP Bluetooth is the first open standard featuring true      Bluetooth is integrated into Bluetooth circuitry. As the
ultra-low power wireless connectivity, which opens up many       resulting architecture shares most of Bluetooth’s existing
new opportunities for wireless data links between mobile         functionality and radio, the cost is only a little higher than
phones or PCs and coin cell battery-powered devices such as      the contemporary Bluetooth chips.
sports and health sensors,” he said. He believes ULP Bluetooth      Bonnerud said Nordic is currently developing standalone
will ensure widespread adoption in many new applications         ULP Bluetooth solutions supporting hosts and peripherals,
where Bluetooth wireless technology can’t be used due to its     with their main features including ultra low power
relatively high power consumption and cost.                      consumption (down to 12µA average); coin cell battery
                                                                 operations; small size (as small as 4 x 4mm for complete
open standard needed                                             radio); built-in security; and user friendly pairing. The chips
   Thomas Emba Bonnerud, product manager, Standard               are expected to be available in the early half of 2008.
Components, Nordic, said that while ULP 2.4GHz RF
technology is already available today (such as Nordic’s                                            by Keith Chan, Hong Kong

                                                                                   october 2007 |          57
     Re p o Rts

 Adoption of Digital Photo
 Frames Picks Up
                igital photo frames are gaining acceptance with More for less Money
                consumers due to falling prices and improved                   Frame size has also increased as panel prices have fallen.
                functionality. Many new models are sold for as Currently, the mainstream sizes for digital frames are 7-inch
 low as US$80 and come with multimedia functions such and 8-inch, compared to 5-inch or 6-inch last year. Chen
 as audio and video playback, and WiFi and Bluetooth are expects consumers to move to 10-inch frames within two
 expected to be bundled in the future.                                      years, and anticipates a huge price difference for frames larger
     The market for digital photo frames will increase to 12 than that. “There is still strong demand for notebook panels
 million units by 2010, from 700,000 units shipped in 2005, and in-car video panels; it’s pretty hard for digital frames to
 according to research firm Parks Associates. Analyst Harry get discounts for panels larger than 10-inch,” he said.
 Wang said that this is due to factors such as improved                        Digital photo frames are simple to assemble. The TFT-LCD
 design and features, and cheaper prices for hardware and panel is still the largest part of the cost, and manufacturers
 Flash memory will continue to spur                                                              use low-power and processor chips
 consumer demand.                                                                                from TI Inc, Prolific Technology Inc, and
     The current top brands for digital                                                          Novatek Microelectronics Corp. Most
 photo frames are Westinghouse,                                                                  frames come with internal NAND Flash
 Mustek, and Pandigital. Global                                                                  memory and an extra slot for memory
 consumer electronics brands such                                                                cards, as well as USB ports.
 as Samsung, Toshiba, and Philips                                                                   Digital photo frames are sold in two
 also each has a sizeable presence                                                               types: digital and analog. A 7-inch
 on the market. These frames are                                                                 analog frame with 320 x 234 resolution
 sold through regular consumer                                                                   retails at around US$80, while a 7-inch
 e l e c t r o n i c s r e t a i l c h a n n e l s , Kodak Easyshare Digital Frame               digital frame with 800 x 480 resolution
 where they are marketed and sold as digital camera retails for around US$120. Prices increase as more functions
 accessories.                                                               are added. Most basic models offer only photo display or
     At the IFA show in September, Toshiba unveiled its slide show. Higher-priced models come with MPEG 1-4
 DPF7XSE, one of the first models on the market with a audio or MP4 or AVI video playback.
 remote control. The 7-inch frame comes with an 800 x 480                      Chen expects to see more models with integrated WiFi or
 resolution screen. It also sports two 1W stereo speakers. Bluetooth function to come on the market next year. WiFi
 The frame supports MP3, WMA, DivX, and MP4 audio and and Bluetooth allow users to wirelessly feed pictures to
 video playback. There is a memory card reader onboard their digital frames from their WiFi or Bluetooth-enabled
 with a USB2.0 port.                                                        PCs or digital cameras. A few photo frames will also come
     According to Bin Chen, a product manager at Adata with on-board Internet browsers to run slide shows from
 Technology Inc, the biggest factor influencing the growth photo sharing sites such as and www.
 in consumer acceptance of digital photo frames has been the
 decline in TFT-LCD panel prices. “Two years ago small-size                    Kodak and Samsung already have WiFi options for their
 panels were too expensive to make these frames affordable, photo frames, even though adding WiFi for an 8-inch frame
 but prices for 7-inch panels have come down about 20% in raises the price to over US$200.
 the past year, so digital frames are now cheaper to assemble
 and sell,” he said.                                                                                                    by Van Tran, Taipei

58   nikkei electronics AsiA | october 2007
Re p o Rts

Intermec Takes Bar-Code
Scanning to Next Level
     ntermec Inc develops, manufactures and integrates         technology allows reading of 1D
     technologies that identify, track and manage supply       and 2D bar-codes from, literally,
     chain assets. Its key technologies include RFID, mobile   any distance, and at any angle.
computing and data collection systems, bar-code printers          Unlike auto-focusing
and label media.                                               technologies used in digital
   Singapore recently saw the launch of Intermec’s CK31ex,     cameras, this auto-focus
the first mobile handheld computer incorporating the           technology is ultra-compact
firm’s EX25 technology, which not only captures data, but      and far faster.
computes and consolidates information. The CK31ex also
features Microsoft Windows CE.NET operating system,            Versatility
optional factory-loaded terminal emulation support, a bright     This new technology is
quarter VGA color touch display, and a Cisco-compatible        incorporated in Intermec’s
802.11 b/g radio, ensuring the best available wireless         Intellibeam EX25 Area Imager,                            CK31ex

network throughput and reliability. Easily integrated          an imager scan engine capable of reading stacked 2D, matrix
into the existing hardware setup of any manufacturing          2D and 1D bar-codes in any orientation at both close and
environment, the CK31ex mobile computer is said to be          long range. The EX25 enables users to read a data matrix
designed for delivering “industrial-class ruggedness and       2D storage slot label from 50 feet away, as well as a linear
reliable performance” for mission-critical warehouse and       bar-code product label from as close as six inches, along with
distribution operations.                                       many other symbology types at all distances in between.
   While the CK31ex may be a strong offering from              And since long-distant readings are attainable “without
Intermec, it is, however, the new Intermec EX25 auto-focus     costly retro-reflective material,” the technology reduces
photographic technology that is both the icing and the         operating costs as standard label and tag materials can be
cake.                                                          used in place of expensive retro-reflective material.
                                                                 The Intellibeam EX25 scan engine can be integrated
new Paradigm                                                   directly into the company’s handheld computers and
   The EX25 is a patented technology by Intermec and           scanners, while providing “… a photographic record of
consists of both hardware and software; the latter is the      environmental or usage conditions.” Furthermore, the EX25
intelligence behind deciphering the information that the       Near & Far 2D Imager Engine allows users to document – on
hardware scans. It is technically accurate to describe the     the spot – proof of delivery, and to record details of damaged
EX25 as a software engine used for scanning.                   goods or merchandise. “Here you are looking at using one
   Intermec considers the EX25 technology “a paradigm          [piece of] equipment for operation that spans across from
shift in scanning technology,” where bar-code scanning is      manufacturing to the warehouse,” said Allan Neo, Intermec
more than what it seems to have been over the past decades.    Technologies (Singapore) Pte Ltd’s director for System
Until now, 2D imagers have been limited to short-range         Engineering, Asia. “Besides ensuring ease of use, it also
applications, while long-range scanning has been the           helps to reduce total cost of ownership and maintenance,
domain of lasers. But with this new technology, a new world    as we do not require different equipment for different
of bar-code scanning and usage has been introduced.            operation.”
   The new auto-focus technology redefines what has
traditionally been known as bar-code scanning. The EX25                                            by Adeline Ong, Singapore

                                                                                 october 2007 |        59

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