Elektra 2013 Product Innovation Award – Readers’ Choice
This is your chance to shape the destination of an Elektra 2013 Award. We are looking for readers’ votes in the Product Innovation category, which is sponsored by Avnet.
Electronics Weekly editors have selected five intriguing and innovative product technologies. You are invited to vote for the product which you believe is the most innovative and/or useful. Read the full entries below and cast your vote!
Elektra 2013 Award - Product Innovation
- Haptic touch device (60%)
- Audio/video streaming over Ethernet and 802.11 wireless (37%)
- In-building 4G LTE coverage booster (1%)
- Cyber-rhino powered by Raspberry Pi (1%)
- Stereo amplifier for battery-powered Bluetooth loudspeakers (1%)
Haptic touch device
Redux Labs’ Bulldog device supports fourth generation haptic touch technology, which not only allows for the touch response to be focused to the point of touch (rather than shaking the whole device) and varied according to the screen co-ordinates touched and the application context, but also by the pressure placed on the screen by the finger.
Applications of this could be a touchscreen keyboard that allows you to feel when you’re on a specific key before you press down on it, or a touch screen camera button that can do the soft push for focus and a harder press for shoot.
The demonstration platform uses the firm’s patented bending wave technology to deliver haptic responses using precisely configured sub audio complex waveforms delivered from its very small actuators and control IC. This gives a very high definition, enabling you to feel, for example, different keys on a keyboard. And, to calculate the degree of touch, Bulldog uses conductive ink technology, but can also use
MEMS and Force Sense Resistor methods of pressure sensing.
In-building 4G LTE coverage booster
Zinwave’s distributed antenna system (DAS) provides in-building wireless coverage as part of mobile networks including 4G LTE (long term evolution) networks.
DAS is a family of techniques that stretches the coverage of a single basestation throughout a large complex building, like a stadium or airport.
A crucial feature of a DAS is that it should be ‘transparent’ – conveying signals to an un-modified basestation as though the basestation it was connected to a standard phone mast.
Zinwave has a wideband system – amplifying the entire 150MHz to 2.7GHz spectrum.
Rather than coax, Zinwave uses optical fibre to transmit data. Its unique intellectual property is a way of modulating lasers that covers the bandwidth. Feedback around the link is used to maintain linearity and dynamic range in the signal path.
Audio/video streaming over Ethernet and 802.11 wireless
XMOS reference design for Ethernet audio visual bridging (AVB) on its xCORE microcontrollers that allows daisy-chaining of audio products.
Ethernet AVB allows audio and video signals to be streamed with controlled latency over standard Ethernet and 802.11 wireless networks.
Ethernet AVB daisy-chain (AVB-DC) removes the need for a central Ethernet AVB switch, and is intended for products such as microphones and speakers.
“Daisy-chain capability allows installers to employ a much simpler network topology, reducing the cabling and installation costs for an AVB network ,” claimed the firm. “It promises a revolution in the audio industry, opening up applications that previously were not viable. End-users will be able to connect together computers, audio devices and audio processing equipment, forming an Ethernet AVB network as they go. Consumer laptops such as the Apple MacBook and MacBook Air already support Ethernet AVB.”
Cyber-rhino powered by Raspberry Pi
Erica the cyber-rhino is a Raspberry Pi-based system which will interact with passers by using cameras, LEDs, phones, and artificial intelligence algorithms.
It is the creation of the University of Southampton’s Electronics and Computer Science department, as part of a public art event around Southampton to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Marwell Zoo.
“Erica’s team has made it possible for her to learn about her environment and provided her with both short and long term memory,” said the University. “The short term memory enables her to react instantly to an action, while the long term memory recalls accumulated actions so that her mood and behaviour can change throughout the day. The people of Southampton will be able to visit Erica in the Marlands Shopping
Centre during the summer months and improve her mood by ‘feeding’ or tweeting her or interacting with their phones.”
“Five Raspberry Pis are doing the control,” Dr Kirk Martinez of ECS told Electronics Weekly. “We wanted to push Raspberry Pis to the limit. It is much more interesting than using one big computer.”
For interaction with the public, the eyes and ears of what is otherwise a solid fibreglass moulding have been made to move, 32 LEDs have been added to the body and 15 RGB LEDs to the horn, there is a display in the body, and Erica has Wi-Fi.
Sensing is through cameras in the eyes, a microphone, and from phones via an app people can install in their phones.
Stereo amplifier for battery-powered Bluetooth loudspeakers
HiWave Audio has designed a low power stereo amplifier module with a Bluetooth interface for battery-powered wireless loudspeakers.
A digital audio modulation technique cuts music playback power significantly, at the expense a comparatively small increase in distortion.
“At the heart of the module is the HiAS2002 boost amplifier. It delivers two channels of 15W burst power output into 8? speaker drive units and extends battery life by up to 10 times at normal listening levels compared with Class-D amplifiers,” said the firm. “The amplifier’s envelope-tracking technology eliminates harsh clipping at high audio levels. At moderate listening levels the HiAS2002 wastes much less power than other amplifier topologies.”
The 110x46x29mm module, called HiAM-DBA3-300, may be powered from a single 3.7V lithium-ion cell and incorporates circuitry for 500mA USB charging and 1.5A AC power adapter charging.