SouthWest startup Xsilon launches in Barcelona

March 3, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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A startup from Bath has launched its technology to the world at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona aiming to connect up all the different bits of electronics in the home.

Xsilon’s HANADU “Whole Home, Every Home” technology is aimed at service operators and equipment makers and can handle any communications link whether it is wireless or wired, with low cost and low power.  It is initially aiming at smart meter connections in the home as s well as in difficult building deployments, in-home energy management solutions, appliance monitoring and maintenance applications, and telemedicine services.

A lot of wireless links struggle to reach devices that are located inside homes, as external wireless networks struggle to penetrate the shell of the building and internal wireless networks continue to face challenges with the obstacles, clutter and coverage deadspots within a typical home environment.

HANADU plus into the growth of machine-to-machine, or M2M, technology where machines in the home all talk to each other and so is low cost enough to work in your fridge or washing machine as well as with your phone or iPad. The key is that it reaches within the home to every point where M2M connectivity might be needed, and overcomes the deadspots and range problems typically associated with previous inhome  deployments. Unlike equivalent wireless offerings, costly but underused repeater points are not needed.

All sorts of different ‘ad hoc’ approaches are supported with auto-discovery routing algorithms where the system looks around for waht avaiable and then connects to it automatically, and the bandwidth scales to support many dozens of connected endpoints within a single home.
HANADU comes with a radically lower power consumption than legacy approaches and state-of-the-art network security keeps householders’ privacy fully secure.

Xsilon’s experienced technology team in the South West has created HANADU using more than two man-centuries of communications technology development and product experience. Other communications technologies deployed in the home were originally designed for other areas, and compromises in performance or connectivity have inevitably been encountered during deployment as an In-Home M2M offering. Rather than accepting such compromises, the Xsilon team designed HANADU using a cleansheet approach with three design goals in mind: superior performance within the home environment; direct relevance to the needs of in-home M2M applications; and, compatibility with all
legacy in-home technologies.

Xsilon has generated its own intellectual property in designing HANADU, and it will be opening the technology up to standardisation activities in the near future. The first products will allow vendors and service providers to evaluate the connectivity advantages of HANADU technology, followed by connectivity modules for integration into equipment.

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University of Bath researchers convert PC network to DC power

March 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Moving PC networks to DC power


Researchers at the University of Bath have converted a network of PCs to DC power, taking them off the power grid to cut noise and save money and power. The move, the first time this has been done in the UK,  also allows the network to be powered directly by micro-power systems such as wind turbines


Details here

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University of Bath develops weather satellite

March 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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A micro-satellite project from the University of Bath has won a position to be sent into space as part of the UK’s first CubeSat mission.

More here


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Local student scoops Intel prize

March 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Roxanne Pollard

Roxanne Pollard of Chipping Sodbury School

A student from Gloucestershire has won major engineering  award for her electronics design.

Roxanne Pollard (19) from Chipping Sodbury School designed a bicycle helmet incorporating special indicator safety features and has been invited to represent Great Britain at the 2012 Intel-sponsored International Science and Engineering Fair in the US with all expenses paid.

The award was part of the Young Engineer for Britain programme, whose sponsors include SW firms STMicroelectronics, Airbus and GKN.

Alan Egan (16), who attends King Edward VI Camp Hill Boys School in Birmingham, won The Duke of York’s Award for the creative application of electronics in the Young Engineer for Britain national final with a multimedia router, which provides quick and easy routing of multimedia content from various inputs to multiple output destinations using a simple and intuitive colour-based interface.

The Group 1 (16-18) winner was Aseem Nishra from Hymers College in Hull with jeans that react like a set of drums when the wearer taps their thighs. The Group 2 (14-16) winner was Hemang Rishi from Winchester College with a novel robotic vacuum cleaner. The Group 3 (12-14) winner was a group comprising Shea Quinn, Gavin Fox and Caolan MaGee from Abbey Grammar School, Newry with a Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Assistant.

Entering the Young Engineer for Britain competition

Any secondary school students aged 12-19 can enter the 2012 Young Engineer for Britain Competition with enhanced exam projects, or, projects designed specifically as entries for the competition. More details can be found at

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Focus on aerospace sensors technologies -10th March 2011

March 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Aerospace Sensor Technologies: Ensuring Nanoscale Manufacturing Integrity, BAWA, Bristol

The UK has the largest aerospace industry outside of the USA, with an annual turnover of £22bn and a supply chain supporting over 276,000 jobs. It can genuinely be called a UK manufacturing success story, and Bristol has been a key centre for the technology from the earliest days of flight.

Related articles

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Vehicle tracking system up for export award

March 1, 2011 by · 2 Comments
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A startup from Bere Regis in Dorset developing an optical tracking system for cars is through to the final of the UKTI‘s Born Global competition for exporters.

Innovative Vehicle Systems was formed in 2007 with the aid of a £50,000 proof of concept award to exploit an innovative concept for measuring the distance between travelling vehicles based on computer processing of visual information. The Distanc—er was developed by George Ferrie who has worked with three major UK Universities on various vehicle safety related projects.

The technology measures the distance to the vehicle in front by processing visual information through a camera, a processing unit based on a microprocessor and an interface. It can be used to inform the driver of the host vehicle, when he/she is at the safe braking distance from the vehicle in front for the speed their vehicle is travelling. If the driver were to encroach on the safe distance by getting closer to the vehicle in front, the system would issue an alert. This system can be integrated into the vehicle sensory network. In this way, the Distanc—er can exchange information/work together with other vehicle systems such as collision mitigation systems, adaptive cruise control, driver alertness tracking systems and autonomous driving.

The Distanc—er is a demonstrator that has been designed to seek and lock onto the only standard sized object on a vehicle; the number plate; and to calculate the distance to that plate. As it is an optical system it is a less expensive option than the radar systems, in tests we have seen a 93% detection rate up to a distance of 40 metres. 75 percent of all collisions occur at speeds of 20 mph or lower. It should be noted that depending on the hardware configuration used, these results could be increased substantially with respect to distance and accuracy of detection. Please click on the Demo link to see the demonstration video.

The algorithms developed by IVS can be used to give lane departure warnings, blind spot warnings, rear alert warnings and as you will see in the demonstration video, Forward collision warnings.

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Bristol information day on ENIAC innovation programme

February 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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The European ENIAC Programme launched its 4th call for proposals (ENIAC Call – 2011) on On February 23rd, and the Technology Strategy Board are investing over £1m into this year’s call. The programme is aimed at companies engaged in research or design for microelectronics, nanoelectronics, micromachined systems (MEMS), System in Package (SiP), and System on Chip (SoC) design.

To help South West companies prepare of their proposals, the Electronics Knowledge Centre, in partnership with the NMI and the Microelectronics iNet, is holding an information day in Bristol on March 17th at the University of the West of England (UWE). This event will provide companies an opportunity to learn about the ENIAC programme, how to apply, and how to find the right collaborative partners.

The event will also include the opportunity for companies to “pitch” their capability, particulary if they are looking to participate in the programme. This will be followed by a brokerage session, giving companies the opportunity to discuss project ideas during private “one to one” meetings.

March 17th

University of the West of England, Bristol
Speakers from: ENIAC JU, Technology Strategy Board, University of Sheffied, Philips BV

in association with NMI and the South West Microelectronics iNET

Registration fee: £15 + VAT (Members)

£30 + VAT (Non Members)

Click here to Register or for more details

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Bristol Robotics Lab to host Robot World Cup

February 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Bristol is to host the world’s most advanced autonomous robots next year at the FIRA RoboWorld Cup 2012.

The competition will take place at the Bristol Robotics Lab (BRL), a collaboration between the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England, from 20-25 August 2012.

The FIRA RoboWorld Cup, founded in 1996, is a way of inspiring interest in robotics and through the competition, teams are encouraged to develop systems and build on their scientific and engineering skills. Technology developed for the tournament requires a holistic view, combining mechanical, electronic and software engineering, integrating advanced AI, automated control and image processing technology.

Alongside the games, a major scientific conference, the FIRA/TAROS Congress, will bring together the leading experts in robotics in the UK and worldwide. BRL won a competitive bid to host these events as the largest multi-disciplinary robotics facility in the UK with an international reputation in advanced robotics research.

The tournament includes several events:

  • MiroSot, a micro-robot soccer tournament, using teams of miniature robots;
  • SimuroSot, a simulated soccer tournament played on computers; and
  • HuroSot, a five-a-side soccer game played by humanoid robots, which have two legs and mimic human movement. The robots are up to 150 cm high and weigh up to 30 kg. The pitch measures approx 430 cm by 350 cm.

“We are really excited to win this bid to host these two events,” said Dr Guido Herrmann, conference chair and Senior Lecturer in Dynamics and Control in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bristol. “The robot games are a way of encouraging younger researchers to get involved in something that will test their abilities and show what autonomous robots can do. Teams work together to design and build the robots, and by pooling their knowledge in this challenge they are able to push the boundaries of robotics.

“BRL have already formed a team to take part in HuroSot, made up of students and staff and they will be working on the design of their robots over the next 18 months,” he added. “We are looking forward to welcoming teams from around the world, and welcoming the world’s leading experts in robotics to Bristol in 2012.”

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Bristol engineering students receive prestigious awards from Boeing

February 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Six students from the University of Bristol’s Faculty of Engineering have been awarded prizes from global aerospace giant Boeing for their innovation in integrated aerospace systems.

Bridget White and Joshua Shimmin both received scholarships for their final year of study whilst James Wilcox, Samantha Huntley, Sky Sartorius and Ben Buxton all received awards for their final projects which ranged from intelligent vehicles to fluid mechanics, helicopter design and ultrasound radio echoes.

“These students have excelled and are worthy winners of these awards.  They have demonstrated the significant prerequisites for becoming the engineering leaders of the future,” said Shane Bennison, Director of Engineering for Boeing Defence UK and the company link for the University of Bristol.

One of the winners, James Wilcox, was awarded the best MEng project in Electrical and Electronic Engineering for his project entitled ‘Fully autonomous Scalextric vehicle using MEMS inertial sensors’.

Dr Mike Barton, project supervisor and Senior Lecturer in Microelectronics in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said: “James designed and built instrumentation to be mounted inside a Scalextric car to allow it autonomously to negotiate a track at optimum speed while transmitting telemetry data via Bluetooth – and he achieved a working demonstration on time.”

Professor Nick Lieven, Dean of Engineering, added: “Once again our students have shown that they are highly capable individuals who have demonstrated a talent for engineering.  They are without doubt amongst the best engineering graduates in the world and it is to their credit that they have been recognised for their achievements during their studies.”

The awards were funded by Boeing along with a contribution to support the student robot test arena and the University of Bristol Aeolus wind powered car project.   The support to these students, facilities and projects are hugely important to help inspire the interest of future students and ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of advanced engineering.

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Ubiquisys drives femtocells forward

February 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Ubiquisys in Swindon is providing the technology behind 20 new femtocells at this year’s Mobile World Congress. The new femotcells – small 3G basestations that can be used in the home and to help improve coverage – include home units with integrated Wi-Fi and applications, units for the office that form self-organising networks (SON), and outdoor models that can bring coverage to rural areas via satellite and extra capacity in metropolitan environments.

They all use the Ubiquisys Femto-Engine system which allows hardware makers to produce many different designs based on the same software, and the technology is now deployed in volume by several mobile operators across the world, including SoftBank Mobile in Japan and by SFR in France.

“The key value in femtocells is their intelligence, not their miniaturisation. This intelligence, the ability to listen and make autonomous decisions in real-time, opens the door to a new generation of low-cost cells of all sizes that actively complement traditional macro networks,” said Chris Gilbert, CEO of Ubiquisys. “By encapsulating that intelligence in software, we have released a wave of innovation from leading device manufacturers as they work with operators on new femtocells for new environments.  This is just the start of the proliferation of intelligent femtocell technology.”

Public Wireless in the US is demonstrating six outdoor small cell platforms with the Femto-engine, while Ubiquisys partner and investor SerComm has developed 15 distinct models, covering residential and integrated devices, enterprise, metro and rural. Femtocells developed by the two companies have already been commercially deployed in hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses. The range includes 8-call standalone residential models, femtocells integrated into home gateways, USB clip-on femtocells and 16-call enterprise versions with extended range.  Another box maker, Tecom in Taiwan, has shown the first model in its femtocell roadmap. The FT1020 residential femtocell supports eight individual calls and high speed data up to 14.4Mbit/s while using less than 5W of power.

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Spacecraft that think for themselves

February 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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The world’s first control system that will allow engineers to programme autonomous satellites and spacecraft to think for themselves has been developed by scientists from the University of Southampton.
Professor Sandor Veres and his team of engineers have developed a cognitive software agent control system called ‘sysbrain’ that uses natural language programming (NLP) to ‘read’ special English language technical documents on control methods. This gives the vehicles advanced guidance, navigation and feedback capabilities to stop them crashing into other objects, as well as agent-based control with mission execution capabilities and the ability to recognise and reconfigure faults. This approach can be applied to other automated systems.
“This is the world’s first publishing system of technical knowledge for machines and opens the way for engineers to publish control instructions to machines directly,” said Professor Veres, who is leading the EPSRC-funded project. “As well as spacecrafts and satellites, this innovative technology is transferable to other types of autonomous vehicles, such as autonomous underwater, ground and aerial vehicles.”
To test the control systems that could be applied in a space environment, Professor Veres and his team constructed a unique test facility and a fleet of satellite models, which are controlled by the sysbrain cognitive agent control system.  The ‘Autonomous Systems Testbed’ consists of a glass covered precision level table, surrounded by a metal framework, which is used to mount overhead visual markers, observation cameras and isolation curtains to prevent any external light sources interfering with experimentation. Visual navigation is performed using onboard cameras to observe the overhead marker system located above the test area. This replicates how spacecraft would use points in the solar system to determine their orientation.
“We have invented sysbrain to control intelligent machines. Sysbrain is a special breed of software agents with unique features such as natural language programming to create them, human-like reasoning, and most importantly they can read special English language documents in ‘system English’ or ‘sEnglish’,” said Professor Veres. “Human authors of sEnglish documents can put them on the web as publications and sysbrain can read them to enhance their physical and problem solving skills. This allows engineers to write technical papers directly for sysbrain that control the machines.”

NLP programming of spacecraft

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