3D printing boost for lab-on-chip prototypes

February 8, 2021 by · Leave a Comment
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Researchers at the University of Bristol have used 3D printing to accelerate development of lab-on-chip diagnostic systems.

Microfluidic underpin lab-on-a-chip (LOC) technologies for rapid diagnostics, and the shape of the channels are key.

The team at Bristol used low cost 3D printing to produce the soft-lithographic moulds used for fabricating these microfluidic channels down to 100 microns wide. A 5000-piece physical library of mix-and-match channel scaffolds  can be printed for less than $0.50. 

“Previously, techniques for producing the soft-lithographic scaffolds/moulds (microfluidic channel patterns) were time-consuming and extremely expensive, while other low-cost alternatives were prone to unfavourable properties,” said Dr Robert Hughes who led the study. “This development could put LOC prototyping into the hands of researchers and clinicians who know the challenges best, in particular those in resource-limited settings, where rapid diagnostics may often have the greatest impact,”

“This technique is so simple, quick and cheap that devices can be fabricated using only everyday domestic or educational appliances and at a negligible cost around 0.05 percent of the cost of materials for a single microfluidic device. This means researchers and clinicians could use our technique and resources to help fabricate rapid medical diagnostic tools, quickly and cheaply, with minimal additional expertise or resources required,” said researcher Harry Felton.

“It is our hope that this will democratise microfluidics and lab-on-a-chip technology, help to advance the development of point-of-care diagnostics, and inspire the next generation of researchers and clinicians in the field,” said Hughes.

The next step for the team is to identify potential collaborators in both research and education to help demonstrate the impact this technology could have in both settings by developing and supporting outreach activities and applications for on-chip diagnostic testing.

www.bristol.ac.uk

Drone boost for industrial monitoring

January 28, 2021 by · Leave a Comment
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A UK project including researchers from the University of Bristol is aiming to develop and test a remotely operated drone system for industrial and urban environments.

“As a leading research institution in 5G and beyond, we will provide expertise on the design of end-to-end network architecture for the future operation of drones,” said Professor Reza Nejabati, an expert in high performance and autonomous networks from the University of Bristol’s Smart Internet Lab. “Our experts will evaluate a combination of multiple 3GPP (4G and 5G), non 3GPP (WiFi), MEC and network slicing technologies in multi-operator settings with private and public operators. We are very well placed to train the next generation of engineers with unique and cross disciplinary skills in integration of telecommunication with drone systems.”

The consortium, led by specialist drone command and control system developer, sees.ai, includes 16 organisations such as BAE Systems, the UK’s National Air Traffic Control Services (NATS) and nuclear operator Sellafield.

BVLOS monitoring

The Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) system will enable remote inspection and monitoring of industrial sites such as nuclear, construction and oil and gas, as well as urban sites in the public domain including road and rail and telecoms infrastructure, and live emergency services support.

The system uses AI on Nvidia GPU processors to enable drones to be flown under tight human supervision by pilots based in a central control room hundreds of miles away. Pilots can precisely execute complex missions remotely – even reactive missions (designed on-the-fly) and close-quarter missions encountering GPS problems, magnetic interference and degradation and loss of communications.

Operating safely in congested area is a major challenge, and it requires the consortium of aviation, aerospace, industrial and emergency service giants, to advance the system and integrate it into the wider aviation ecosystem.

“The Future Flight Challenge funding will accelerate us towards a future where drones fly autonomously at scale – high up alongside manned aviation and low down inside our industrial sites, suburbs and cities,” said John McKenna, CEO of sees.ai in West Sussex.

The Smart Internet Lab is among the technical contributors to the consortium, alongside Vodafone, The Met Office, Flock Cover and UAM Consult Ltd.

During these tests the system will be operated by two of the world’s leading drone service providers, Terra Drone and Sky-Futures or by the in-house drone teams at Sellafield, Network Rail, and the  Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.

www.sees.ai; www.bristol.ac.uk

Breakthrough for quantum networks

September 30, 2020 by · Leave a Comment
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Researchers in Bristol have built a multiplexed eight user quantum key distribution network with just eight receivers, a fraction of the number of devices currently required. 

The international team of researchers has developed the first distributed network for sharing quantum keys in a breakthrough design.

So far, quantum key distribution has been point to point, even over satellites, but this limits the use in a network. The multiplexed photonic quantum key distribution (QKD) system, published in Science Advances, supports eight users and can be easily scaled up.

“This represents a massive breakthrough and makes the quantum internet a much more realistic proposition,” said Dr Siddarth Joshi, who headed the project at the Quantum Engineering Technology (QET) Labs at the University of Bristol, UK. “Until now, building a quantum network has entailed huge cost, time, and resource, as well as often compromising on its security which defeats the whole purpose.”

“Our solution is scalable, relatively cheap and, most important of all, impregnable. That means it’s an exciting game changer and paves the way for much more rapid development and widespread rollout of this technology,” he said.

Photonic QKD systems use entangled photons to ensure an encryption key is not intercepted.

“Until now efforts to expand the network have involved vast infrastructure and a system which requires the creation of another transmitter and receiver for every additional user. Sharing messages in this way, known as trusted nodes, is just not good enough because it uses so much extra hardware which could leak and would no longer be totally secure.”

The team includes researchers from the UK’s  University of Leeds, Croatia’s Ruder Boskovic Institute (RBI) in Zagreb, Austria’s Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI), in Vienna, and China’s National University of Defence Technology (NUDT) in Changsha.

The team used multiplexing to develop an eight user system with eight transceivers, rather than the 56 that would previously be needed for each user to have a point to point link.

The receivers were connected to optical fibres via different locations across Bristol and the ability to transmit messages via quantum communication was tested using the city’s existing optical fibre network.

“Besides being completely secure, the beauty of this new technique is its streamline agility, which requires minimal hardware because it integrates with existing technology,” said Joshi.

The network was created within months for less than £300,000, enabling secure networks for a fraction of the cost today. The system also features traffic management, delivering better network control which allows, for instance, certain users to be prioritised with a faster connection.

“With these economies of scale, the prospect of a quantum internet for universal usage is much less far-fetched. We have proved the concept and by further refining our multiplexing methods to optimise and share resources in the network, we could be looking at serving not just hundreds or thousands, but potentially millions of users in the not too distant future,” said Joshi.

“The ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic have not only shown importance and potential of the internet, and our growing dependence on it, but also how its absolute security is paramount. Multiplexing entanglement could hold the vital key to making this security a much-needed reality.”  

The research received funding from the Quantum Communications Hubs of the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), Ministry of Science and Education (MSE) of Croatia, and the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG).

https://bristol.ac.uk/qet-labs/

Power from sweat for wearable electronics

July 22, 2020 by · Leave a Comment
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Researchers at the University of Bath in the UK have developed the first fuel cell that can be stacked in a printed circuit board for wearable designs.

Glucose Fuel Cells (GFCs) generate power from any body fluid at room temperature, including sweat for wearables and blood for embedded medical devices

The team led by Carla Gonzalez-Solino at the Centre for Biosensors, Bioelectronics and Biodevices (C3Bio) at the  University of Bath developed an integrated arrays of GFCs and successfully demonstrate their operation at physiological concentrations of glucose.

Each GFC consists of a porous gold anode and a Pt/Au cathode in a single layer, and generates a maximum power of 14.3 μW/cm2 (in 6 mM of glucose) a 297mV, with a linear response to glucose within a concentration range that includes both low and high glucose levels.

The challenge for individual GFCs is the low voltage output. So the team also connected four GFCs in parallel in a stack on a PCB. This generated between 1.4V and 0.9V.

Each board measures 42.5 mm x 34.5 mm consisted of four rows that include a circular electrode (geometric area: 1.54 mm2) used as the anode, and a crescent electrode, used as the cathode (geometric area: 7.22 mm2).

To demonstrate meaningful energy harvesting, the four GFC stack was connected to a commercial off-the-shelf power management system using a BQ25504 PMIC from Texas Instruments that can handle the low output voltage. The BQ25504 system is designed to operate with input voltages as low as 100 mV, a range that covers most fuel cells. It has a built-in Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) function that finds the open circuit potential (OCP) of the fuel cell and sets the operating point by varying the effective load impedance seen by the fuel cell to  around 80 percent of this voltage.

The OCP is sampled for 256 ms, which, for the GFCs proposed in this work, is sufficient for the cells to reach full OCP. The BQ25504 system also includes a battery management system, which was connected to a storage capacitor. Both the 4-GFC voltage and the voltage over the energy storage element were continually logged using a Pico datalogger to record the voltage over time.

https://www.bath.ac.uk/research-centres/centre-for-biosensors-bioelectronics-and-biodevices/

https://www.bath.ac.uk/research-centres/centre-for-biosensors-bioelectronics-and-biodevices/

SouthWest tech heads for MWC in Barcelona

February 9, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
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Three leading Bristol-based companies are attending the global mobile tech conference

Companies from the South West region are demonstrating their world-beating technologies at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona later this month – an event that brings together leading technology companies and telecoms operators from around the world.

Bristol-based XMOS Semiconductor is showcasing its far-field voice capture systems. These are used in the voice-enabled stereos, smart TVs, soundbars, set-top boxes and digital media adapter markets which use the company’s innovative processor.

The XMOS technology includes the world’s first stereo acoustic echo cancellation (AEC) far-field linear microphone array solution. This is based on a voice processor which delivers dual channel full stereo. Its VocalSorcery technology can identify individual speakers or conversations in a crowded noisy audio environment. This could be used for example to diarize voice conferences, and give a full transcript, by speaker of multi-person conversations, and ensure that all speakers on a conference call are heard with equal volume.

“We’re demonstrating our next generation of source separation algorithms, VocalSorcery, which solves what is sometimes described as the ‘Cocktail Party Problem’ and enables commercial solutions for improved conference calls and in-car phone calls,” says Mark Lippett, President and CEO at XMOS.

“With our next generation of algorithms we are confident that we have the most comprehensive portfolio of voice products available today.”

At the same time, Zeetta Networks‘ NetOS software-defined networking technology has been nominated as the Best Network Software Breakthrough at the show.

NetOS makes a 5G wireless network fully programmable, opening new opportunities for smart cities and smart venues. It is already being used at Bristol’s Ashton Gate sports stadium as part of a live ‘data lab’.

The category of Best Network Software Breakthrough is new this year and aims to highlight outstanding software innovations leading to dramatic changes in network costs, functionality and business cases.

“We are delighted that our NetOS technology has been nominated for a world-class GLOMO award,” says Vassilis Seferidis, CEO of Zeetta Networks. “Our vision at Zeetta Networks has always been to create software that transforms the network into a dynamic, programmable platform that allows our customers to maximize the value from their networking assets. NetOS is a core component in delivering dynamic, multi-tenancy and multi-vendor networks and has already been deployed successfully in production networks, working across multiple technologies whether fibre, packet switched Wi-Fi or the Internet of Things.”

NetOS is also a central component to the ‘Bristol is Open‘ Smart City testbed and to the UK Government’s 5G Hub, which is testing out network virtualisation and slicing for 5G services.

5G future

Blu Wireless Technology (BWT) will also be demonstrating its millimetre 5G wireless technology at the show. The company recently joined the Telecom Infrastructure Project (TIP) as part of the recently established mmWave working group to develop the latest 60GHz networking technology.

TIP is the engineering-focused initiative co-chaired by Facebook and Deutsche Telekom, bringing together expertise from pioneering technology companies.

“Our mission goes beyond simply delivering advanced technology to our customers, but rather providing deep domain expertise, from a technology and market perspective,” says Henry Nurser, CEO of BWT.

“Being amongst this forward-thinking, highly esteemed collection of companies gives us access to shared ideas and the opportunity to play an integral part in the future of this rapidly emerging global technology ecosystem.”

MWC is held in Barcelona at the end of February.

Bristol drives autonomous drone research at MAAXX Europe 2018

February 4, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
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Global tech companies back Bristol’s leading drone competition and the latest research proposals on the use of drones in the city

The MAAXX Europe 2018 drone racing competition returns to the region on 23 and 24 March with triple the flying area at the Exhibition and Conference Centre at UWE Bristol.

Working with leading chip maker NVIDIA, phone and system maker Huawei and the Aerospace Bristol museum as part of their celebration of the RAF’s 100th anniversary, the flying area now has two large arenas to test out the latest drone technologies.

Check out what MAAXX Europe was like at last year’s event in the video below:

With 12 industry and university teams, the event aims to push the boundaries of control systems for autonomous aircraft. There’s an overnight build-a-drone event with significant support from Huawei and other companies along with teams from the leading UK and EU universities.

The industry day on Friday 23 March will also feature a research poster exhibition from some of the brightest post-graduates around.

MAAXX Europe’s co-organiser, High Tech Bristol and Bath (HBB), is also applying to the NESTA Flying High Challenge. This four-month consultation would provide the framework for a future bid for funding to examine the use of drones in urban situations.

“NESTA is looking for five cities in the UK to be the centre for all things drone,” says John Bradford, CEO of HBB. “We are looking at infrastructure monitoring, contested airspace around the port at Avonmouth and the airport as well as emergency and health response. Then there’s a crowd safety and management around large events such as the Harbour Festival,” he adds.

You can find out more about MAXX Europe and register for free tickets via the MAAXX Europe 2018 website. For updates on Bristol’s involvement in the Flying High challenge, you can follow HBB on Twitter here: @hbb_cic.

World’s most powerful tractor beam developed in Bristol

January 30, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
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Researchers at the University of Bristol have been able to trap objects larger than the wavelength of sound in a beam. This opens the door to the manipulation of drug capsules or even controlling tiny surgical implements within the body in sterile environments.

“Acoustic tractor beams have huge potential in many applications. I’m particularly excited by the idea of contactless production lines where delicate objects are assembled without touching them,” says Bruce Drinkwater, Professor of Ultrasonics at the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Current theory says these tractor beams were fundamentally limited to levitating small objects as all the previous attempts to trap particles larger than the wavelength had been unstable, with objects spinning uncontrollably.

Instead the team used rapidly fluctuating acoustic vortices, which are similar to tornadoes of sound, to create a stable core. They were then able to increase the size of the silent core allowing it to hold larger objects. Working with ultrasonic waves at a pitch of 40kHz, the researchers held a 2cm polystyrene sphere in the tractor beam (pictured left).

This sphere is over twice the acoustic wavelength and is the largest yet trapped in a tractor beam. The research suggests that, in the future, much larger objects could be levitated in this way by boosting the power of the ultrasound.

“Acoustic researchers have been frustrated by the size limit for years, so it’s satisfying to find a way to overcome it. I think it opens the door to many new applications,” says Dr. Asier Marzo at Bristol’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Ultrasound is a key area for Bristol. The University team has previously shown smaller objects being moved around by the beams, while Ultrahaptics in the city is using focused ultrasound beams to provide the feeling of touch in mid-air.

 

Real time pollution monitoring trial in Bristol

January 25, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
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A trial is starting in Bristol this month to use connected vehicles to monitor air pollution in real time.

Bristol Waste, which operates the refuse and recycling service in Bristol, is working with US connected car company Tantalum and data researchers from Imperial College London on “Air.Car” which provides highly accurate, real-time feedback on the levels of nitrous oxide (NOx), a key pollutant.

According to research by US scientists, excess emissions of NOx exhaust gases can be linked to 38,000 premature deaths worldwide and it is a key measure for meeting UK and European pollution limits.

“We run a large fleet of vehicles across the city of Bristol and understanding the environmental impact of our operation is a key part of our sustainability plan and our commitment to contributing to a cleaner and greener Bristol,” says Tracey Morgan (pictured centre right), Bristol Waste Company’s Managing Director.

“The data from this trial, which will include at least 40 of our heavy vehicles, will enable us to make more informed decisions around which of them we use, at what times and on which routes to help us manage that impact.”

This is part of a 1,000-vehicle trial that also includes the University of Oxford, where units are being installed in diesel vehicles to estimate real-time NOx emissions in major cities across the UK.

The £2m project started last July and taps into the On Board Diagnostic (OBD) port on the vehicle to access the engine control unit to gather data, and the data will be used to develop a tool from Tantalum to provide a detailed understanding of the environmental impact of vehicles and the tools to minimise it.

Ozgur Tohumcu, CEO of Tantalum tells us: “There’s a real buzz around how we can use data cleverly to improve people’s lives. It will be transformative for managing and reducing the silent killer, NOx, in the world’s towns and cities.”

 

SouthWest tech companies to watch in 2018

January 15, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
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2018 is set to be a stellar year in the region and there are eight tech companies to keep an eye on.

Kudan

With engineering in Bristol and marketing in Tokyo, Kudan is making significant steps with its Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM) technology which helps driverless cars and drones navigate more accurately.

It’s currently dealing with major car makers for both mainstream and driverless cars, major Asian mobile phone makers and large drone makers who are all driving the adoption of the designs.

KETS Quantum Security

Bristol is a global hub of expertise in quantum technology, so it’s no surprise that one of the companies on the list for 2018 comes from the Quantum Entrepreneur’s hub.

KETS Quantum Security is providing photonic security technology that is small and light enough to be used on drones for uncrackable communications. It has won several awards and accelerator deals for the commercialisation of the technology.

Dyson

Dyson is a big name in home appliances and it’s now set to expand its expertise and success to electric cars. Its car and battery research and development centre in Malmesbury is set to shake up the automotive world and its design centre in Bristol is leading the way for developments in the Internet of Things.

Amazon FreeRTOS

Amazon already has a presence in Bristol with its cloud team, but its importance is stepping up a gear with the release of the Amazon FreeRTOS.

The world’s most popular real-time operating technology was developed in Bristol and with the backing of Amazon it’s set to be even more significant, allowing the easy connection of sensors and controllers to cloud services in the Internet of Things.

UltraSoC

Cambridge-based UltraSoC has just opened its second office, tapping into the tech expertise in the Bristol and Bath region.

Its team started out developing analytics hardware that is designed into chips for development. This is now a way of gaining invaluable insights into all activities across the Internet of Things.

Cerberus Labs

Cerberus Labs taps into the skills of highly experienced engineers from ST Microelectronics. Their expertise in encryption and chip design has led to innovative security chips for a range of IoT applications, especially to secure the communications between vehicles.

Not only is the company providing the hardware designs but it’s also offering network support for messaging between the chips.

Reach Robotics

We are also saying welcome back to Reach Robotics after time in the US at a leading accelerator. Its MekaMon battling robots were launched in November last year after the company raised $7.5m for the bot’s development. You can check them out in action in the video below:

The team is now driving manufacturing and growth and is planning for further expansion this year. A deal to sell its robots in Apple stores will also see a boost during 2018.

Silas Adekunle, CEO of Reach Robotics previously told us: “It was important for us here at Reach Robotics to remain loyal to Bristol, given the support we’ve already had from Bristol Robotics Lab and UWE Bristol.”

Compound Semiconductor Catapult

While not a company, the £50m Compound Semiconductor Catapult in Newport starts operations this year, developing and enhancing the latest technology in chips for wireless chargers, more efficient power systems and next-generation radio-frequency systems for 5G and 6G equipment.

Aiming to have 2000 researchers and developers just across the Severn Bridge (which will eliminate tolls later this year), the national research centre will be just 20 minutes from Bristol and a huge boost to technology development in the region.

New printing lab develops innovative sensor tech

January 10, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
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A new laboratory at UWE in Bristol is set to combine traditional print techniques with cutting-edge sensor and materials technology.

UWE Bristol’s Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR) is set to start a five-year £1.5m project in January  on new designs for print heads for commercial printers and the development of the next generation of inks with distinctive properties and new ways of printing.

This could lead to new applications such as a T-shirt that can warn its wearer when dangerous chemicals are in the air, or pharmaceutical packaging with ink signifying when pills have been tampered with.

The lab will be run by Dr Susanne Klein, who used to work for printer maker Hewlett Packard as a senior researcher at its labs in Bristol.

The research will combine the CFPR’s knowledge of traditional photomechanical printing methods, such as Lippmann and Woodbury, and use the techniques for use on a 2.5D printer, which creates texture as part of an image on a substrate.

Using her expertise in colloidal chemistry (working with particles suspended in a solution), and liquid crystals, Klein will also develop specialist inks that can change colour in certain environments.

Such properties could mean a T-shirt print might be able to detect chemicals in the environment that have a proven link to cardiovascular disease, and change colour to warn the wearer. Similar ink on the garment could also react to heat and change colour when the wearer has spent a long time in the sun.

Smart inks could also help manufacturers trace a product as it passes through the supply chain, or curb counterfeiting.

“There are lots of problems with counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals and sometimes products are found to be counterfeited where the packaging is identical to the original,” said Dr Klein. “We will produce packaging with printing ink that will change colour every time it passes through and is authorised at a different stage on its way to the customer.

“Another application could be in the case of food that needs to remain cold in its packaging. The technology could lead to labels that react to heat, switch to another colour if they have warmed and stay that colour,” she said.

“The printing landscape is changing and I think our research will contribute to that, but the industry is traditional with its own way of doing things, and no big printer will make any radical changes. Our plan is to feed in little advances, bit by bit, so that commercial printers can adapt slowly to new technologies.”

The funding will provide £300,000 per year for five years to the University and Klein will set up a team comprising a post-doctorate student and a technician to work with the CFPR to develop this new printing approach.

“This funding is unprecedented nationally in an art school environment,” said Professor Carinna Parraman, Director of the CFPR. “This is a unique opportunity to pair an experienced material scientist, coming into academia with industrial and manufacturing process knowledge and skills, with the CFPR’s expertise in photomechanical processes invented in the 19th century.”

The CFPR has already been working with advanced 3D printing technology with a wide range of materials including ceramics.

Bristol basestation network to test driverless cars

December 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Researchers are rolling out a network of basestations across Bristol to communicate with driverless cars.

The basestations will use the latest Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) technology with a Bristol twist. Instead of using expensive dedicated hardware and software, the researchers have used low cost commercial Wi-Fi chips and their own software.

The technology can also be used with sensors on the infrastructure.

See much more about the FLOURISH project at Basestations roll out across Bristol to test driverless cars -TechSPARK.co

Würth buys SW timing specialist IQD

December 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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IQD Frequency Products in Crewkerne, Somerset, has been bought by German component maker Würth Elektronik.

The 44 year old company makes quartz crystals and oscillators that provide the timing for all kinds of electronics and along with its US subsidiary IQD Frequency Products Inc in Palm Springs will be part of the Würth Elektronik eiSos Group.

IQD is among the leading manufacturers of frequency control devices in Europe, and is active in over 80 countries. The deal will enable the company to make even greater investments in the further development of technologies and products, says Würth.

“With IQD our group has now acquired a highly innovative company with cutting-edge technologies and component solutions which are a logical extension of the range of products we offer. We are particularly pleased that we’re now able to offer valuable extensions for IoT, WiFi, GPS and 5G applications,” said Oliver Konz, CEO of Würth Elektronik eiSos Group.

IQD develops, manufactures and markets quartz crystals, oscillators, VCXOs, TCXOs, OCXOs, GPS-synchronised OCXOs and rubidium oscillators. The company also offers product solutions built to customer’s specifications.

“In our eyes, Würth Elektronik eiSos is the ideal partner for us,” said Paul Fear, former Group Managing Director of IQD. “Supported by Würth Elektronik eiSos’ global sales strength, IQD will be able to continue its growth whilst at the same time expanding its range of innovative product solutions.”

 

SW tech drives Amazon’s Internet of Things operating system for billions of devices

December 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Amazon has tapped SouthWest technology for the embedded software to control billions of devices in the Internet of Things (IoT).

The company has launched its own version of the world’s most popular embedded operating system, FreeRTOS, developed in Bristol by Richard Barry who worked for Wittenstein High Integrity Systems (WHIS).

Last year Barry joined Amazon as a principal engineer and, as a result, the FreeRTOS kernel version 10 is now under the MIT licence – allowing it to be used freely (instead of its previous and more restrictive GPLv2 licence).

Simplified licensing has long been requested by the FreeRTOS community and the choice of the MIT licence was based on the needs of the embedded systems community. Open source Amazon has also developed its own version, Amazon FreeRTOS, which is based on the FreeRTOS kernel and adds support for Amazon Web Service (AWS) and IoT use cases. This includes software libraries that make it easy to securely connect devices to the cloud and on a local network. This works on boards developed by STMicroelectronics which also had a large embedded technology centre in the region for many years.

You can find out much more at Amazon taps Bristol tech for Internet of Things operating system -TechSPARK.co

SEGGER buys Somnium assets

November 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News, Test 

German development tool vendor SEGGER Microcontroller has acquired all intellectual property assets of Bristol startup Somnium Technologies.

Somnium had developed a linker that enabled the entire toolchain compiled and optimised for a particular device: Somnium uses TVS for pre-launch testing.

SEGGER had just completed a new linker just when Somnium’s technology came onto the market, but was sceptical of the technology claims. It is at odds to point out that its linker is complete and contains no technology derived from Somnium.

There are no firm plans to unite the two linkers right now, and the company is now looking to pick up Somnium customers (and presumably offer them the new linker).

www.segger.com

 

Graphcore in Bristol is world’s leading AI chip designer

November 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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A major Silicon Valley investor, Sequoia Capital, has identified Graphcore in Bristol as the world’s leading chip designer for machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), backing the startup with $50m in a third round of funding to bring the total to over $110m.

Sequoia has previously backed companies such as Apple, Cisco, Google, NVIDIA and  Microchip. “Machine intelligence will cause an explosion of new applications and services that will transform every industry. We believe Graphcore’s product architecture, team and early market interest make it the best positioned new entrant in this market,” said Matt Miller, the partner at Sequoia who will join the Graphcore board of directors.

The funding will be used to scale up production of its Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU) chips and accelerator cards, building a community of developers around its Poplar ML software platform, driving Graphcore’s extended product roadmap, and investing in its Palo Alto-based US team to help support customers.

The company is planning to ship its first IPU devices to early access customers at the start of 2018, slightly later than its original plan of the end of 2017. Early benchmarking has shown 10x to 100x speed up in running AI algorithms and the ability to scale across many separate accelerator cards.

Source: Bristol startup identified as world’s leading AI chip designer -TechSPARK.co

Deltenna in Chippenham sold to US corporation

July 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Chippenham antenna specialist Deltenna has been bought by US corporation Cubic in an undisclosed deal.

Since 2002, Deltenna has developed a reputation for its expertise in specialist wireless communication technology including those for use by public safety and emergency response teams worldwide.

Deltenna designs and manufactures cutting-edge integrated wireless products including compact LTE base stations, broadband range extenders for areas of poor coverage and rugged antennas using rugged antennas are small, light and ideal for rapid deployment in emergency situations. The systems are based on the company’s extensive expertise in LTE, frequency re-banding and advanced antenna technologies. Deltenna currently has a portfolio of more than ten issued and pending patents in the fields of antennas and integrated wireless systems.

Cubic, based in San Diego,  designs, integrates and operates systems, products and services focused in the transportation, defence training and secure communications markets. Cubic Transportation Systems integrates of payment and information technology and services to create intelligent travel solutions for transportation authorities and operators. Cubic Global Defense provides of live, virtual, constructive and game-based training solutions, special operations and intelligence for the US and allied forces. Cubic Mission Solutions provides networked Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities for defence, intelligence, security and commercial missions.

“The addition of Deltenna aligns very well with Cubic’s culture of innovation and we are pleased to welcome Deltenna to our Cubic family,” said Bradley Feldmann, president and chief executive officer of Cubic Corporation. “With Deltenna, we will strengthen our capability of developing and integrating products that will change the way our military forces communicate, train and operate.”

www.cubic.com

Southampton University in £4m photonics boost for data centres

July 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Collaboration 

The University of Southampton is set to benefit from two major investments in research partnerships that will strengthen the links between the UK’s research base, industry and business partners.  Both investments show the pivotal importance of engineering and the physical sciences to the country’s continued development as a global research and innovation leader.

The first is a set of new ‘Prosperity Partnerships’ which will receive £31m of government funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).  This is matched by a further £36m from partner organisations in cash or in-kind contributions, plus £11m from universities’ funds, totalling £78m in all.

Ten universities will lead on 11 projects that range from future networks for digital infrastructure to offshore wind.  Over five years, the University of Southampton’s Silicon Photonics Group (part of the Optoelectronics Research Centre – ORC) will receive £2.7m from the EPSRC, working with its partner Rockley Photonics – who will contribute a further £2m.  The University will provide an additional £148,000.

The money will support research into the use of silicon photonics technology within communications networks in data centres.  The aim is to improve their speed and energy efficiency by changing the datacentre architecture.  Silicon photonics is an emerging technology which uses optical signals to transfer data between computers, servers and the wider world.

“Dr Andrew Rickman, Chief Executive Officer of Rockley Photonics, is the world’s leading entrepreneur in this field. We have a long history of working together in many different ways, since 1989, and this collaboration is almost the perfect fit for the remit of the Prosperity Partnerships – a truly mutual relationship between university and industry,” said Graham Reed, Professor of Silicon Photonics at Southampton. “Our expertise and facilities offer a unique environment for silicon photonics research and innovation. One of the world’s most pressing problems is how to handle our relentless desire for more data, and we are striving to make significant improvements. The Prosperity Partnership is the perfect vehicle for our work with Rockley Photonics; it enables a relatively young, growing company to invest in university research at an early stage.”

The second EPSRC investment is £60m for 33 universities to advance their Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAA).  The University of Southampton will receive almost £3m for IAAs over three years.

Why I chose South West tech sector over California – Blu Wireless

July 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Blu Wireless Technology MD Henry Nurser on the advantages (and challenges) of setting up in the technology cluster in Bristol

Source: Why I chose South West tech sector over California

Power Oasis teams for high endurance solar powered electric drones

June 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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PowerOasis in Swindon is working with Alta Devices to develop a power system reference design for Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (SUAS), or drones.

 Fly All Day with Alta Devices and PowerOasis (Photo: Business Wire)

This is the world’s first reference design for integrated solar and lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery power systems for small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). By combining Alta Devices’ lightweight solar panel technology with PowerOasis’ expertise in hybrid power systems, small UAV developers can focus on leveraging their core expertise in aircraft design and performance.

“Up until now, it’s been nearly impossible to develop a hybrid solar/Li-ion UAV architecture for small aircraft because the solar technology compromised the design too severely. That is no longer true with Alta Devices’ solar technology,” said Pete Bishop, CTO of PowerOasis.

The reference architecture will target 2-4 meter (6.5-13 feet) span UAVs, using 5s-7s Li-ion batteries. Features include high efficiency, light weight, modular power systems, management of battery packs using a cell vendor agnostic, flexible battery management system (BMS), communication to ground control and on-board auto pilot with continuous real time power and energy data and conditioned power outputs for critical power and payload systems.

“In the past, a UAV manufacturer had to work with multiple companies to obtain the solar technology, downstream electronics, and power management software to create a solar/Li-ion hybrid powered system. Then, they had to design the system themselves,” said Alta Devices Chief Marketing Officer, Rich Kapusta. “By working together and providing a complete architecture for a well-crafted power system, PowerOasis and Alta Devices are streamlining the UAV development process. We are providing a complete system for electric aircraft and UAVs, eliminating the distraction and time required to focus on the intricacies of power design.”

Aircraft designers will be able to use the reference design to manage the complete energy generation, storage and power management system for a UAV. This is without having to bring this capability in-house, saving time and resources than can be better allocated to payload design and aircraft aerodynamics.

Many aircraft companies are turning to solar to provide added endurance to UAVs. A typical battery-powered UAV can normally stay aloft for only a few hours. With solar added to the wings, the same aircraft could fly all day.

The targeted release-date for the design is late 2017 and it will be available initially through Alta Devices and PowerOasis.

PowerOasis is the industry leader in 50W to 20kW hybrid power systems & energy efficiency solutions for a wide range of applications, from telecoms to transport and military deployments, combining in-house power electronics and software expertise enabling bespoke or high volume, high quality, leading edge power solutions.

www.poweroasis.com

 

XMOS launches its first voice processors

June 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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XMOS in Bristol has launched a family of voice processors to provide far-field voice capture using arrays of MEMS microphones. The move marks a shift away from general purpose microcontrollers and AVB Ethernet controllers and into the market for voice controlled equipment such as Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s home speaker.

The XVF3000 has optional support for Sensory’s TrulyHandsfree technology, the industry’s leading voice-trigger solution and the Xcore architecture provides a flexible and cost effective always-on voice interface in a single device.

XMOS also announces the availability of a development kit (the XK VF3100 C43), which includes an XVF3000 processor card and a 4-mic circular microphone array. This kit provides a quick way to start developing far-field voice capture applications.

“Today is a very significant day for XMOS. We’re introducing XVF3000 and VocalFusion Speaker [development kit] as the first in a range of voice capture products. Based on our powerful and flexible xCORE microcontroller architecture, XVF voice processors open up new possibilities for designers looking to deliver high performance voice capture in a very cost-effective form factor,” said Mark Lippett, CEO at XMOS. “We’re excited to be at the forefront of the revolution driven by products like Amazon Echo and Google Home, which have shown the possibilities for voice interfaces. We are working worldwide with customers and partners to accelerate the adoption of voice as the interface of choice for the Internet of Things.”

The XVF3000 devices include speech enhancement algorithms that include an adaptive beamformer, which uses signals from four microphones to track a talker as they move, coupled with high performance full-duplex, acoustic echo cancellation. The controllers can be easily integrated with an applications processor or host PC via either USB for data and control or a combination of I2S and I2C. Developers can quickly add custom voice and audio processing using the XMOS free development tools.

XVF3000 devices are available immediately from XMOS, and the VocalFusion Speaker Development Kit will be available in July. Developers can register for early access to the Beta program and download further information at: www.xmos.com/xcorevocalfusion.

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