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.


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 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.


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

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

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).


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

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.”

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.


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:

Related stories:


FreeRTOS moves to 64bit

June 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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The world’s most popular real time operating system, FreeRTOS, has updated to version 9, supporting 64bit microcontrollers for the first time

FreeRTOS V9.x.x, deveoped and maintained in Bristol, is a drop-in compatible replacement for FreeRTOS V8.x.x that still supports 32bit operation and adds new features, enhancements and ports.

Two new configuration constants that allow FreeRTOS to be used without the need for any dynamic memory allocation have been introduced. through the configSUPPORT_STATIC_ALLOCATION and configSUPPORT_DYNAMIC_ALLOCATION constants.

The Win32 demo located in the /FreeRTOS/demo/WIN32-MSVC-Static-Allocation-Only directory is provided as a reference of how to create a project that does not include a FreeRTOS heap at all, and therefore guarantee no dynamic memory allocation is being performed.

Other additions include:

  • Creating Tasks and Other RTOS Objects Using Statically Allocated RAM
  • Forcing an RTOS Task To Leave the Blocked State
  • Deleting Tasks
  • Obtaining a Task Handle from the Task Name
  • Enhancements to the GCC ARM Cortex-A port layer relating to how the port uses the floating point unit.
  • Update the ARM Cortex-M RTOS ports that use the memory protection using (MPU).
  • Added vApplicationDaemonTaskStartupHook() which executes when the RTOS daemon task (which used to be called the timer service task) starts running. This is useful if the application includes initialisation code that would benefit from executing after the scheduler has been started.

All the details are at

Bristol shows plans for major new university campus

June 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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The University of Bristol has revealed its plans for the new £300 million campus next to Bristol Temple Meads and is urging local businesses and industry to feed into a large-scale consultation.

The Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus development will be one of the city’s most significant regeneration projects in recent history, with 35,000 sq m of flexible space for teaching and innovation, including EngineShed 3.

One of its key goals is to work with industrial partners to develop a talent pipeline of graduates who will support the city’s successful digital cluster.

The University is encouraging businesses to share their views and help shape the new campus by taking part in a public consultation, which will run online from 19 June to 21 July.

There will also be exhibitions of the plans at Engine Shed by Bristol Temple Meads and Beacon House on the Triangle from 20 June to 7 July, plus special consultation events at Engine Shed and Paintworks.

The seven-acre site, which spans the derelict former Royal Mail sorting office and part of Arena Island, will be close to business incubation centre Engine Shed, home to the University’s award-winning Bristol SETsquared Centre, which will also be expanding into new premises within the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone.

A range of new degree programmes will be designed and developed in collaboration with industry and other partner organisations, to ensure students educated on the Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus are equipped with the knowledge, skills, values and resilience to thrive and lead in a rapidly changing world.

“The new campus will focus on the digital technologies of the future and the skills, ethics, business models and infrastructure that turn digital opportunities into jobs, wealth and wellbeing that benefits the whole of society,” said Prof Dave Cliff, who is leading the academic side of the project. “We are working with partners, large and small, to put innovation at the heart of our campus and to build a talent pipeline of creative graduates who embrace social responsibility as well as opportunity. These graduates will be prepared to tackle global challenges that we can’t yet imagine.

“Our plan is for University staff and students to be co-located with partners from industry and commerce in the new buildings. We intend to work with our partners to co-design and co-deliver education and skills training in innovative new ways, better suited to the needs of employers and workers in the knowledge economy.”

Frofessor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bristol, said: “We have been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine the future of our University as one of the world’s great civic universities while also transforming a key site at the heart of our city.

“Our new campus is very much a work in progress and we would welcome people’s feedback, on everything from education provision, research and innovation to community engagement and transport links.  We don’t know exactly what it will look like yet, but we do know that we want it to feel welcoming to everyone and to be a place for the whole city to learn, explore and enjoy.”

Although designs for the campus are in their infancy and will be informed by the outcome of the consultation, there are ambitions to develop landmark buildings and public spaces which will provide a fitting welcome to those travelling into Bristol.

Fully developed, the Enterprise Zone has the potential to attract over 17,000 jobs over its 25-year lifetime and add a further £100 million a year to the city’s economy.

A second round of consultation will follow in September before an outline planning application is submitted to Bristol City Council later in the year. Applications for individual buildings will follow, with further consultation in 2018/19, when building work is expected to start. The new campus is planned to open for 2021, says Cliffe.

Swindon plans Technology Innovation Centre at station

June 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Swindon Borough Council has acquired the historic CarriageWorks building from Network Rail to develop a technology innovation centre.

The CarriageWorks is a Brunel heritage building, a five minute walk from Swindon station and will provide a total of 126k sqft. The Council has also acquired a carpark alongside, so there will be parking with conference facilities at the STEAM Museum next door.

The first phase of the refurbishment is around 10k sq ft by the end of the year. This will host 180 desks, plus meeting rooms and other facilities. The rest of the building will be offered to larger organisations to rent.

Forward Swindon is leading the project on behalf of the Council and looking to an operator for the Centre and secure tenants, particularly in smart cities and cybersecurity. It is also looking to build an investor network to support startups in the centre.


Zeetta software turns Ashton Gate stadium into a data lab

June 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Startup Zeetta Networks has won a contract worth £1.8m to build a large-scale demonstrator of its Software Defined Networking (SDN) technology at the Ashton Gate sports stadium in Bristol, writes Nick Flaherty at TechSpark’s High Tech channel.

The contract from InnovateUK follows trials at the stadium last year and will see Zeetta’s NetOS software deployed throughout the stadium. Zeetta will build new business applications on top of the NetOS platform for the wide range of events at Ashton Gate alongside third-party providers, turning the stadium into a test lab for big data applications

The project has broader implications for Zeetta as NetOS can be applied to shopping centres, hospitals, airports and other venues with complex operating networks.

The project will connect tens of thousands of devices including mobile phones, cash tills, turnstiles,  display screens, air conditioning and heating as well as sensors and building management systems, all with software that is easy to set up, monitor and reconfigure in real time. Zeetta, a smart city spin-off from the University of Bristol, will also develop a programmable platform for new services by extracting data analytics from the network for new software apps.

“Stadia and other large venues, across the UK and beyond, are challenged by their consumer need for more data and faster response time particularly as they scale up their activities into new business areas,” said Vassilis Seferidis, CEO of Zeetta Networks. “This first-of-a-kind deployment forms a key part of our business plan by demonstrating our technological capabilities and the resulting commercial benefits for our customers.”

“We’ve been working with Zeetta Networks for the last 12 months and it is exciting to see the potential uses of this system unfold,” said Martin Griffiths, chairman of Ashton Gate. “Sports stadia across the globe struggle with connectivity and real-time evaluation of data. I believe we are just scratching the surface of what this NetOS platform can deliver and look forward to seeing its implementation over the coming year. Using Ashton Gate Stadium as a live test lab I’m confident that we will be able to drive greater fan engagement along with significant returns to our businesses.”

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