One of the team behind the Raspberry Pi £25 computer is coming to @Bristol tomorrow evening to talk to kids in the region.
The Bristol chapter of the British Computing Society has invited Rob Bishop, 22, from the Raspberry Pi Foundation in Cambridge to talk about the joy of making and using the Raspberry Pi. Rob will discuss how he got involved in the project as an intern at Broadcom (which has a development centre in Bristol as well as Cambridge) and why a career in engineering or computer science is awesome (and important!). There will also be a chance to get hands-on with a Raspberry Pi and to ask him any technical or non-technical questions you might have about engineering, computer science and the Raspberry Pi.
The talk will be followed by an opportunity for a Q&A alongside some demonstrations of how the Raspberry Pi can be used.
Rob Bishop is a Developer, Product Engineer & Evangelist for Raspberry Pi Foundation, one of the earliest engineers involved with the development of the Raspberry Pi and currently the only full-time paid employee in the Foundation.
The event starts at 1800 with the chance to have a look around @Bristol followed by the talk starting at 19:00.
Both BCS Members and Non Members are welcome – tickets are nearly sold out at bcsbristolraspberry.eventbrite.co.uk/
If you require any more information please contact email@example.com
You can buy the Raspberry Pi at http://uk.farnell.com/raspberry-pi?CMP=KNC-GUK-FUK-GEN-KWL
Proposals from four cities including Bristol have been shortlisted for final interview as the Technology Strategy Board’s £24 million Future Cities Demonstrator competition nears conclusion. The interviews are tomorrow (5th december) with the announcement of the winner in January 2013.
30 Local Authorities were awarded grants of £50,000 in July 2012 to develop feasibility studies and 26 submitted project proposals by the 14 November 2012 deadline. The feasibility studies will be made public in due course as part of the competition process.
The four shortlisted project proposals are (in alphabetical order);
The Technology Strategy Board is keen to build upon the involvement of all the Local Authorities in the process, and aim to continue working together. It says it will explore further opportunities to collaborate and develop the ideas and themes addressed in the applications, for example through the development of the Future Cities Catapult centre due to open next year.
Bristol’s Future City bid brings together many of the strengths of the region, from the microelectronics cluster with global expertise in microcontrollers, wireless technology and sensors for the Internet of Things, as well as robotics and smart meters, advanced materials from the aerospace cluster, low carbon and renewable energy innovations in building technology and new digital content from the creative sector.
FIRA’s World Cup of Robotics is coming to the UK for the first time from 20 to 25 August, hosted by the Bristol Robotics Lab (BRL) and @Bristol. A total of 27 teams will be competing, with 202 participants from across the world coming to pit their robotic skills against each other.
Competitors are coming from as far afield as Mexico, Canada, India, China, South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan. The UK has two teams competing – one from the BRL and the second from the University of Plymouth. Hundreds of spectators are expected to watch the events unfold in @Bristol, one of the UK’s leading science and discovery centres, as top roboticists test their newest technology and hope to finish on the podium. The most highly-anticipated category is for humanoid robots which can walk and run. ‘HuroCup’ events include football, basketball, wall climbing, weightlifting and marathon running. These robots can be up to 130cm in height and weigh up to 30kg.
Other categories include ‘MiroSot’ – a five or 11-a-side football game for wheeled robots. An external vision system tracks the position of the robots and the ball, relaying this information to another computer which then calculates the next move. While it’s not quite as fast-paced as events in the Olympic Stadium, organisers promise that it will be a spectacle in its own right as spectators marvel at pioneering mechanical, electronic and advanced artificial intelligence technology in action.
Dr Guido Herrmann, from the University of Bristol, led the BRL bid and hopes members of the public will make the most of the opportunity to see world-leading robotics on their doorstep for free. He said: “We are looking forward to welcoming teams from around the world to Bristol. The competition promises to be both exciting and insightful, pushing the boundaries of robotics to the limit. This will be a fantastic opportunity for the public to see just what autonomous robots are capable of. Although very different to the Olympics, it’s another opportunity to show the world just what Great Britain is capable of – both as event hosts and being pioneers of engineering.”
A major scientific conference, the 2012 Joint FIRA-TAROS Congress, will run alongside the tournament, bringing together the world’s leading experts in robotics. The TAROS Industry Day will also be held at BRL on the Frenchay Campus of UWE Bristol on 23 August, with talks by key robotics industry figures and exhibitors from leading companies.
The event is organised with UK’s Knowledge Transfer Networks (KTN) on Robotics and the British Automation & Robot Association (BARA). Members of the public are invited to a public lecture which takes place on Tuesday, 21 August, at 7pm in the Wills Memorial Building. Professor Shuzhi Sam Ge, from The National University of Singapore and the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, will discuss the ‘Era of Social Robotics’ and how social robots might one day be able to improve services, healthcare and productivity. Professor Jong-Hwan Kim, President of FIRA, said: “It is my great pleasure to have FIRA RoboWorld Cup and the joint FIRA-TAROS Congress held in the UK for the first time, especially as it’s the birthplace of modern football. Football has created a unique culture and I believe that robot sport can contribute to the future of technology through encouraging young scientists and engineers to get together during the event and share ideas to advance robotics.”
The public are welcome to enjoy the action from Wednesday, 22 August to Saturday, 25 August. For details of the schedule, please see the At-Bristol website. Entry to the RoboWorld Cup is free. The event has been sponsored by The Institution of Engineering Technology (IET), The Office of Naval Research Global (ONRG), Regional Educational Legacy in Arts and Youth Sport (RELAYS), Team South West, The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and Maxon Motor UK.
The University of Bath is part of a £5 million collaborative solar panel research project to promote the latest research into harnessing the sun’s energy to produce electricity. The SUPERSOLAR hub brings together expertise from universities across the UK and the solar panel industry to share knowledge, establish a research network and train the next generation of scientists in the field.
The consortium, funded by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), is unique because it brings together all aspects of photovoltaic (PV) energy generation, from research into new materials for solar panels, to the socio-economic aspects of using the sun as a source of electricity.
The Bath effort is led by Professor Alison Walker from the Department of Physics, and Professor Mike Hill and Dr Aron Walsh from the Department of Chemistry. The hub will draw together PV energy generation research from across the University, from the Departments of Physics, Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering, Electronic & Electrical Engineering, and Architecture & Civil Engineering.
The Bath project coordinator Professor Walker researches excitonic solar cells – devices that produce electricity from the sun’s energy through the creation of an “exciton” (or electron-hole pair). These cells are transparent and flexible and could be used on roofs, in windows or in portable applications for example in places where grid electricity is not available or is intermittent and expensive.
“Bath is a major centre for renewable energies research and has long been known for its research into photovoltaics, but this project really puts us on the map,” said Prof Walker. “The SUPERSOLAR hub brings together academics across several faculties at the University, including chemists investigating using transparent conductive oxides as contacts for all types of solar cell, engineers developing coatings that make solar cells more efficient, and researchers from Architecture looking at new ways of incorporating solar cells into buildings.
The hub, led by the University of Loughborough, also includes the Universities of Liverpool, Oxford, Sheffield and Southampton, along with the Energy Generation and Supply Knowledge Transfer Network.
Professor David Delpy, EPSRC’s Chief Executive said: “The SUPERSOLAR research hub will bring together the UK solar energy research community to address the key research challenges facing the development of the next generation of solar technologies. Scientific research into all forms of low carbon energy generation is essential if we are to reduce carbon emissions and avert dangerous climate change.”
Multicore Challenge Conference 2012
24 September 2012
Bristol (UWE, French Campus)
TVS and ICT KTN are holding the 2012 Multicore Challenge Conference on Monday, 24 September 2012 with speakers, case studies, workshops and tool demonstrations on the latest techniques and technologies for developing systems with multiple processor and graphics cores.
Leading speakers from Imagination, Intel and the University of Bristol will also be part of a panel session at the end of the day on the challenges of developing and using multicore silicon chips. Sign up here
Researchers from Bath are looking at new ways to make the energy network more efficient and robust.
The team from the University’s Department of Computer Science, in collaboration with Low Carbon South West and Grid Scientific, has funding from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) to investigate how a ‘coherence engine’ could enable operators to achieve significant business and operational benefits and will consider the specific scenario of responding to failures in the network more efficiently.
The introduction of Smart Power Distribution to energy networks, as part of the evolving Smart Grid initiative, will see a sharp increase in the number of systems that rely on sensors and other intelligent devices. A coherence engine may support Distribution Network Operators in extracting the maximum value from data provided by these devices.
The role of the coherence engine could be of importance as software enabled devices become more prevalent, data proliferates, fault symptoms become less obvious and network and operations complexity increases.
By developing an understanding of the anticipated operational and technical impacts of the introduction of these technologies, the researchers would be able to support Grid Scientific with its development of a coherence engine that could improve operations processes in distribution networks.
Low Carbon South West, a membership organisation which creates sector partnerships between businesses, academia, investors and local authorities to promote the growth of environmental technologies and services in the South West region, is leading the partnership and will also disseminate the partnership’s findings across it membership.
Board member Simon Bond said: “Current systems for monitoring faults in the energy network rely on their independent view of activity. As the network becomes more complex and new technologies are introduced, this lack of communication between monitoring systems could become problematic.
“Through this project the partners are aiming to determine the feasibility of a centralised view of the network which will address these complications and deal with a proliferation of network data.”
Grid Scientific, a company which designs software to support the evolution of today’s energy networks, has been investigating the potential of data coherence for energy networks over the last year. The company also draws on over 20 years of experience in telecoms networks where similar changes can be viewed as an analogue for the changes now expected in energy networks. If the feasibility study is encouraging, Grid Scientific plans to develop new data coherence products for the energy network market.
Eric Brown, Managing Director of Grid Scientific, said: “The challenges and opportunities we are now seeing in energy networks are similar to those seen in telecoms when major changes took place in that sector in the 1990s. However, substantial differences between the electricity and telecoms environments mean that a level of technical and operational innovation will be required,” he said. “We’ll be working with the research group to determine where the latest thinking in computer science can be applied to deliver solutions for energy networks.”
Dr Rachid Hourizi, researcher in human and system interaction from the University of Bath’s Department of Computer Science, said: “Understanding the feasibility of coherence to successfully meet the smart power distribution data challenges will depend on collaborative and cross discipline innovation from the electricity, IT and communications sectors. If feasibility can be shown, this project could lead to the construction of a prototype coherence engine for fault management and the extension of the approach to address improvement in other processes in the electricity network.”
A new £715K laboratory at the University of Bristol aims to equip scientists in the South West with the facilities they need to carry out the latest techniques in cell biology research.
A £715,000 grant from the Wolfson Foundation, coupled with significant investment from the University of Bristol, has enabled the refurbishment of space in the University’s School of Medical Sciences to provide a state-of-the art laboratory space for cell biologists.
The facility will house three research teams, led by Professor George Banting, Professor David Stephens and Dr Jon Lane, who share a common interest in understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie cell function — how the tens of thousands of individual components within a cell work together for the cell to do its job.
Professors Banting and Stephens will use the facility to study how proteins are delivered to the right place(s) within cells, how they are exported from cells, and how cell membranes are organised. This research is fundamental to cell biology as it has implications for a range of disease states as well as for tissue organisation and responses to pathogen (bacterial and viral) infection.
Dr Lane’s lab applies an understanding of membrane and cytoskeletal dynamics to “autophagy” — a process of cellular quality control that is upregulated during cell stress. This process is vital for normal organismal development, but can give rise to degenerative diseases and cancer if it goes wrong.
Professor Leo Brady, Head of the University’s School of Biochemistry said: “Cells are the building blocks of most forms of life. This investment from the Wolfson Foundation helps to keep Bristol at the cutting edge in cell biology research.”
The refurbishment also provides bespoke space for sophisticated microscopy systems that have been purpose built within the Stephens and Lane research groups. These systems complement the excellent imaging equipment available in the nearby Wolfson Bioimaging Facility – this unique facility was funded from a £1 million investment from the Wolfson Foundation and completed in 2008. It is regularly used by around 100 research groups across the University. It is situated is in close proximity on the same floor as the new laboratory space.
Researchers in Bristol are working on a European project to increase the performance of white LEDs by a factor of 10 for brighter car headlights.
The €3.8m GECCO project aims to use vertical structures for the new LEDs. Modern high-performance LEDs already provide a bright light output at high efficiency and are used for automobile headlights. At present though, the production process for these kinds of LEDs is still not cost efficient enough and also the efficiency of these LEDs needs further improvement.
Up to now, LEDs are being constructed in a planar way, meaning in layers and completely flat. The more light is being required, the more wafer area has to be produced, which is an expensive and laborious approach. The aim of the GECCO project is to assemble LEDs in a three-dimensional way so that actually every LED consists of a ‘light emitting tower’ from which the entire vertical surface is emitting light. Obviously the surface of the tower is much larger compared to the ground area of a planar LED. And in fact, it is exactly the gain of light emitting area that leads to a higher light output.
This means the manufacturing of an LED becomes much more cost-effective and as a result replacing ancient electric bulbs, halogen lamps as well as energy saving bulbs to LEDs is getting a lot more profitable. Considering the fact that currently 20 % of electrical energy worldwide is being utilized for illumination, this innovation provides an enormous potential as far as cost-effectiveness is concerned. In addition, LED lighting is particularly important for future electric mobility, particularly for electric cars.
The dimensions of the ‘light emitting towers’ are within the micrometer range. This means approximately one million LEDs fit on an area of one square millimeter. This process requires utmost precision which can only be achieved by applying nanotechnology manufacturing techniques.
The GECCO project is coordinated by Prof. Andreas Waag from the Institute of Semiconductor Technology at Braunschweig.
A London startup Escape the City has used Exeter-based crowd funding speciliasts Crowdcube to raise £600k in less then two weeks after turning down two offers of venture capital funding.
Initially the company raised £500k in 9 days and then extended the pitch by £100k to £600k, raising the extra tranche in under 4 days.
Ironically, Escape the City is a website that helps professionals to make career transitions. It has a community of more than 65,000 people who want to escape from unfulfilling corporate jobs – be it launching a start-up or joining a quirky company or non-profit organisation.
The Kickstarter crowdfunding scheme for startups and projects is aiming to come to the UK in the autumn.
The company offers start-ups a route to raise funding for specific projects from the general public in return for ‘investor’ benefits. A target amount to raise is set and if that amount is not reached, nothing is funded. Unlike Exeter-based crowdfunding venture Crowdcube, the benefits do not currently include shares.
The latest hit project on Kickstarter is Ouya, a low cost games console that comes with its own software development kit (SDK) so that it can be deliberately hacked (or programmed, as we used to say!). The $100 Android-based console is to the Raspberry Pi what the old ZX80 DIY computer kit was to the BBC B Microcomputer. Funders get their name engraved on their own console, or, for enough money, on the whole production run.
UK companies have been using Kickstater in the US. Xenonauts, a game by Goldhawk Interactive in London, last month raised $155,000 from nearly 5,000 small investors. However, in order to set up a Kickstarter account, you have to use Amazon Payments and in order to use Amazon Payments you have be an American citizen, and that has caused problems for international companies.
Serial entrepreneur and stalwart supporter of South West innovation, Kenn Lamb, has lost his long fight against cancer. A memorial service will be held at the Memorial Woodlands, Earthcott Green, Alveston, Bristol, BS35 3TA on Thursday 19th July at 12 noon.
It was as CEO of Hewlett Packard spinout Elixent that saw him take on a wider role in the industry, building up the startup until Panasonic took over the business in 2006. His last role was CEO of Cambridge startup Cyan Technology, re-building the company while commuting from the SouthWest.
He started out at Plessey Semiconductors in Swindon, becoming data products manager, but moved into the electronic design tool industry at Comdisco and then Cadence Design Systems. Moving back into hardware he was the European General Manager at FPGA designer Actel (now part of MicroSemi) followed by roles at development system house Pentica Systems and IP developer Arc (now part of Synopsys).
He was a strong supporter of the industry and of the SouthWest, influencing and assisting many people throughout his career with his humour and expertise.
For information about the memorial please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
GKN Aerospace has opened a new engineering and technology center at its site at Filton near Bristol. The centre is GKN’s fourth and will focus on future wing structure design and manufacture. The company expect to increase the engineers on the site from 5 to over 100.
Engineers from the University of Southampton are collaborating with the British Museum to examine buried Roman coins using the latest X-ray imaging technology.
The powerful scanning equipment at Southampton’s µ-VIS Centre for Computed Tomography is being used to examine Roman coins buried in three archaeological artefacts from three UK hoards.
The centre’s equipment can scan inside objects – rotating 360 degrees whilst taking thousands of 2D images, which are then used to build detailed 3D images. In the case of the coins, the exceptionally high energy/high resolution combination of the Southampton facilities allows them to be examined in intricate detail without the need for physical excavation or cleaning. For those recently scanned at Southampton, it has been possible to use 3D computer visualisation capabilities to read inscriptions and identify depictions of emperors on the faces of the coins – for example on some, the heads of Claudius II and Tetricus I have been revealed.
“Excavating and cleaning just a single coin can take hours or even days, but this technology gives us the opportunity to examine and identify them quickly and without the need for conservation treatment at this stage. It also has potential for examining many other archaeological objects,” said University of Southampton archaeologist, Dr Graeme Earl. “The University’s Archaeological Computing Research Group can then take this one step further – producing accurate, high resolution CGI visualisations based on scan data. This gives archaeologists and conservators around the world the opportunity to virtually examine, excavate and ‘clean’ objects.”
The scanning technique is already yielding some fascinating results and the possibility of identifying a hoard of coins in a pot, without removing them, is very exciting, says Dr Roger Bland, Head of Portable Antiquities and Treasure at the British Museum.
The three objects examined at Southampton are:
- A cremation urn containing nine coins, dating from AD282, found in the Cotswolds. This item in particular would take months to excavate – with archaeologists needing to carefully examine bone fragments and remains to extract more information about its past.
- An estimated 30,000 Roman coins discovered in Bath, dating to around AD270 and concreted together in a large block weighing over 100 kilograms (radiograph image only).
- A small pot dating to the 2nd century found in the Selby area of East Riding in Yorkshire.
“Our centre examines a wide variety of objects from the layup of individual carbon fibres in aircraft wing components, to the delicate roots of growing plants, and now ancient Roman coins. It is our integration of state-of-the-art imaging hardware, world-class computing and image processing expertise, which allows us to break new ground,” said Professor Ian Sinclair, director of the µ-VIS Centre for Computed Tomography. “We have recently formed an inter-disciplinary research group for Computationally Intensive Imaging, which brings together a broad spectrum of world-class imaging activities from disciplines across the University – of which this project is an excellent example.”
The University of Southampton and the owners of the artefacts have plans to share the scan data with the public, hopefully through future exhibitions and online.
The Research and Enterprise in the Arts and Creative Technologies – REACT – centre is led by UWE Bristol with a consortium that includes the Universities of Bristol, Exeter, Bath and Cardiff and the Watershed Arts Trust.
REACT will also work closely with creative businesses, including SMEs, arts and culture organisations and other agencies.
REACT is directed by Professor Jon Dovey and based in Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio.
Insider News South West – Altran Praxis relocates office to the Southgate Centre in Bath
Wednesday 7th November 2012
New venue: UWE Exhibition and Conference Centre
Venturefest Bristol is back for a second year to showcase the latest new technology business ideas and innovations.
The venue moves from the Bristol & Bath Science Park to the Exhibition Centre at UWE, bringing together technology businesses at all stages, from pre-commercial to established organisations. Venturefest Bristol 2012 aims to offers opportunities to businesses regardless of their size, sector or location within the UK.
Last year’s event attracted more than 700 attendees and this year promises to be even bigger. Venturefest is aimed at anyone who has an early-stage technology business idea and is looking for support and advice to get that idea off the ground. Attendees can listen to other entrepreneurs’ stories, get IP and funding advice and to network with like-minded people.
The company also announced that it has completed the first deployments of its new G7 indoor small cell hotspot, featuring its ActiveCell technology, with two operators in Asia after successful field trials in extremely-challenging public environments.
The Asian G7 deployments have tested extremes of data and signalling traffic, including hotspots experiencing 10,000 users moving in and out every day, with each user typically running HSPA data for over 25% of the time. Indoor public spaces such as cafes, stores, malls and airports are ideal environments for small cells – as operators face rapidly increasing data usage and have abundant fixed broadband available for backhaul.
“We are seeing rapid growth in demand for our public access small cells solutions, particularly in the demanding Asian market,” said Will Franks, CTO and co-founder of Ubiquisys. “These deployment scenarios represent significant technical challenges, but our adaptive technology was designed to run in open-access mode from the outset. We’ve built a substantial base of public access small cell deployments over the past two years and this real-world experience led to the development of ActiveCell technology.”
The Ubiquisys G7 range of 3G/LTE/WiFi public access small cells feature new ActiveCell technology developed on the back of years of experience in deploying small cells in public environments. ActiveCell complements Ubiquisys’ globally proven ActiveRadio and ActiveSON systems for small cell self-management and self-organising clusters. It extends these capabilities to provide carrier grade symbiotic interworking with the macro network, in particular to manage interference effects, whilst retaining the advantages of simple installation and commodity IP backhaul. ActiveCellconsists of groups of software-encapsulated techniques:
* Automatic cell sizing: preserves the target quality of service in hotspots.
* Loaded cell adaptive radio resource management: continuous monitoring of the radio environment even while serving active users.
* Hotspot robustness: ensures the best possible quality of service during high spikes of transient users.
* Edge processing of smartphone signalling to significantly reduce the load on the core network.
The challenges facing public access small cells arise from the sheer volume and unpredictability of traffic, the particular demands of smartphones, and the need to adaptively complement neighbouring cells. Current small cell solutions fail to convince on one of two counts:
* Traditional solutions such as picocells require manual planning and lack adaptive behaviour in operation, which makes them both prohibitively expensive and unsuitable for dense hotspot deployment.
* Small cells created by simply renaming residential femtocell technology are designed for relatively benign closed-mode operation, and are not robust enough to cope with the traffic demands of a public access hotspot environment.
Small cells running Ubiquisys ActiveCell technology combine low operational costs with the ability to deal with the real-world requirements of mobile users in public spaces. They have been field proven to meet the demanding network performance metrics of the macro networks they complement.
Researchers at the University of Southampton and Roke Manor Researchhave used Xbox computer technology to help stroke patients recover manual agility at home. The team is now looking to use the medical technology, which measures hand joint movement, to develop games to help the patients recovery.
The Xbox Kinect works by monitoring whole limb movements allowing controller-free gaming; the gamer becomes the game. However, the University team has taken it a step further to create an algorithm that tracks and measures hand joint angles and the fine dexterity of individual finger movements. The ultimate aim is to capture the data while the patients follow exercises on a TV screen.
Roke Manor, based outside Bournemouth, has been designing complex electronic systems for decodes and is a key design house in the region.
The project aims to help people recovering from a stroke to do more regular and precise exercises so that they recover faster. The data collected will be fed back to the therapists caring for the patient so they can continually monitor progress, reducing the need for frequent hospital visits.
This new system has been developed to complement the home-based physiotherapy care already offered to patients in the UK, and follows a recent Stroke Association report which highlighted that stroke survivors are being denied the chance to make their best recovery because of a lack of post-hospital care.
“Recovering from a stroke can be a daunting and distressing time for patients and their families. Through our research we know that many people recovering from a stroke find their at-home exercises repetitive and often demotivating,” said Health Sciences academic Dr Cheryl Metcalf, at the University of Southampton who is supervising the project. “If they are already finding it difficult and frustrating to move their hands, they need something to encourage them to try harder. We wanted to create a more engaging way to help them recover faster. Using the Kinect we have been able to take a commercially available product and develop a highly novel tool that aims to be both cost effective and clinically applicable.”
The next objective is to create a series of computer games to make the rehabilitation process more interesting for the patient. The games will adapt to each individual’s ability and help motivate them to reach rehabilitation goals by feeding back higher scores if their joint movements improve.
“Strokes are the largest single cause of severe disability in the UK and it is estimated that every year half of the 100,000 stroke patients experience upper limb problems. This project could make a significant difference to the wellbeing of those affected,” said Simon Wickes, Healthcare Business Sector Manager at Roke. “As Roke has a strong R&D pedigree in mobile and e-health devices, we were able to provide the technical guidance and support to help the students realise this exciting and valuable project. Not only is it a cost effective out-of-the-box solution, by reducing patient recovery times it could also have a positive impact on the £2.5 billion which the care and rehabilitation of stroke patients cost the UK health and social care system each year.”
Phasor, based in Ledbury, Herefordshire, has developed a system that allows moving vehicles such as aircraft, ships or trucks to communicate with stationary satellites, or antennas that track moving satellites, in real time with no moving parts. It had originally developed the antenna system to provide broadband connections on trains, and is now targeting the multi-billion dollar satellite communications and radar market with a unique, ground breaking design that it says provides order of magnitude improvements over competing solutions.
Phasor Solutions was founded by Ledbury venture capital firm Anglo Scientific and circuit designer Richard Mayo in 2005 to develop flat, high gain antennas to fit on the roof of moving vehicles. Since then, Phasor has raised venture capital funding through a pool of investors and has built a strong team from the South West UK. Mayo was a member of the founding team of Microcosm Communications in Bristol that developed more cost effective optical components using CMOS and BiCMOS silicon and was sold to Conexant Systems. Chief Operating Officer Tim Esparon was VP of Manufacturing Operations at Microcosm spin out Phyworks in Bristol.
The Phasor chips include all the radio frequency functions (amplifiers, oscillators) and phase shifting circuits, as well as the logic and data modulation/demodulation required. This approach to phased array technology aims to reduce costs by over 10x and provide added value such as a flat design (less than 1 inch high), conformal to any surface, modular approach, and high reliability as there are no moving parts. One of Phasor’s initial targets is wireless internet access on trains, an estimated available market of over 500 million users worldwide. However airborne satcoms and other Comms-On-The-Move (COTM) applications are likely to be larger markets.
“Phasor is carving the way for the next decades of phased arrays by providing a paradigm shift in satellite communications. It took the industry over 40 years to develop phased arrays which are typically expensive to buy and to operate. But now, with the invaluable support of our partners, and in particular TowerJazz, we have been able to deliver semiconductors which provide an order of magnitude reduction in costs compared to current solutions,” said David Garrood, Managing Director at Phasor Solutions. “Phasor has been able to achieve this milestone with the support of the TowerJazz team and relying on the stability and performance of its SBC18HX process.”
The chips use a 155GHz silicon germanium (SiGe) technology from Californian chip foundry TowerJazz, rather than the more traditional and more expensive gallium arsenide technology. This allows more features to be added to the chips and makes the system dramatically cheaper
“Our advanced SiGe BiCMOS technology provides higher integration at lower cost than GaAs solutions, allowing cost-effective satellite communications on the move to be realized,” said Dr. Marco Racanelli, Senior Vice President and General Manager for the RF & High Performance Analog and Aerospace & Defense Business Groups at TowerJazz. “Together, we have begun volume manufacturing to enable a high gain antenna, which consists of 20,000 chips. In addition, we continue to invest in advanced SiGe and recently announced our latest process, SBC18H3, which supports devices with speeds of 270GHz and offers a path for further performance, power, and noise improvement in next-generation products.”
Finnish open source software startup ForgeRock is opening its UK headquarters in Bristol next week for the development of software around identity management.
The company recently raised $7 million in its first round of funding from global venture capital firm Accel Partners which also backed the developer of the Angry Birds app. ”We were looking for investors with a track record of backing companies which subsequently come to define their category.” said Lasse Andresen, ForgeRock Founder and CEO. “In Accel, we believe we have found the right partner to help ForgeRock define the Identity technology category globally. We will use the funds to build further on the market traction and dramatic global growth we have demonstrated over the past 2 years”.
ForgeRock offers a unique, open platform approach to Identity software with its I³ Open Platform. This provides a unified approach for identity management from Authentication, Access Management, and User Entitlements, to Identity lifecycle management and provisioning. The open source approach can be use on in-house, private or public cloud infrastructure.
“We think identity management is a crucial issue for most businesses as they struggle to deliver appropriate information and application support to employees, partners, and customers via a combination of datacentres, the cloud, PCs, and mobile devices. Customers and channel partners repeatedly referred to the exceptional breadth, scalability and reliability of ForgeRock’s products as well as the expertise and responsiveness of the management team. We believe ForgeRock is well positioned to deliver the easiest to deploy and highest performance identity management software suite in the market and is unique in being able to address the needs of the largest global businesses, as well as small to mid-size companies,” said Bruce Golden, Partner, at Accel Partners.