Irish wireless tech research nets €90k EI funds


23 Oct 2006

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Promising research work being carried out by Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) into wireless systems for consumer electronics has received €90,000 in funding from Enterprise Ireland (EI).

The research, which has the support of the Centre for Telecommunications Value Chain Research (CTVR), is aimed at developing wireless antennas for use in people’s living rooms. EI’s proof-of-concept/commercialisation fund has allocated the money to the project to allow it to move to prototype stage.

The technology in question involves low-cost high-performance antennas for ultra wideBand (UWB) systems. UWB technology uses existing radio-frequency spectrum to allow large amounts of data to be sent wirelessly over short distances. In much the same way as Bluetooth technology connects devices like mobile phones to earpieces and PCs to printers, UWB technology would allow devices like DVD players, games consoles and video recorders to be connected to TV sets without the need for cables.

If successful, it is believed that the technology could have a major impact on the market for popular consumer electronics devices like TVs, DVD players, games consoles and even mobile phones.

The EI funding will go towards the development of a prototype antenna that will provide high-performance on the one hand and low-cost planar fabrication technology on the other. By having antennas available at low cost, the UWB technology could then possibly be used in a wide variety of everyday applications.

Professor Donal O’Mahony, director of CTVR, explained that the role of the group is to facilitate advanced research that is likely to result in commercially viable products. “The development of prototype products is a big step in the progress of this technology from the research lab to popular use,” he said.

CTVR’s antenna research group has built up considerable expertise in fundamental antenna design issues related to wideband systems and collaborates with other noted research groups, such as the Institute for Infocomm Research in Singapore. That group has conducted studies which showed that antenna technologies used to date cannot provide suitable performance in this respect in a small-footprint, low-cost device.

The CTVR research group is led by Max Ammann and is part of a flexible radio research group that is working on realising the next generation of fully reconfigurable radio transceivers and associated intelligent antenna systems. For more information visit www.ctvr.ie.

By Gordon Smith