Behind the scenes at chip firm NXP

Behind the scenes at chip firm NXP

Summary: Dutch semiconductor company NXP shows how its chips are being used in transport, medicine and smart metering during a tour of its research facility in Eindhoven

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TOPICS: Emerging Tech
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  • Research scientist Steven Daemen demonstrated hearing aids that use low-power chips and magnetic induction radio to communicate with each other.

    With magnetic induction over a short distance, there is a low degradation of radio signal strength through the human body. This enables the hearing devices to communicate and to give a stereo effect to the wearer.

    "It's important to have a bi-directional link," says Daemen. "Normal hearing devices miss a stereo effect."

    Spacialisation, where sounds heard in the earphones appear to be coming from specific points in space rather than through the inside of the head, can be added via an external processor, NXP said.

  • Normally, near-field magnetic induction communication relies on a transmitter modulating a magnetic field, which is then picked up and demodulated by a receiver. However, the devices pictured can transfer two voices simultaneously in two directions, allowing a stereo effect.

    In the devices, the two magnetic coils are tuned to resonate at a specific frequency, in this case 10.6MHz. The chip models the stereo sound on top of that frequency, according to Daemen.

     Daemen told ZDNet UK "The good thing is that [the devices] are low power, but they are limited in range."

    The devices operate on batteries between one and 1.4 volts over a frequency range of  7MHz to 15MHz.

  • This smart-bandage strip has sensors which make frequent measurements of pressure and humidity. The pressure of the bandage can be monitored to make sure it is not too loose or tight, while humidity readings can tell a clinician if a wound is bleeding or suppurating.

    The strip has two pressure sensors and one humidity sensor, plus a wireless link to a USB dongle. The dongle can be plugged into a computer to take readings from the sensors.

    The strip also contains a flexible printable battery, which means patients can move easily while wearing it.

    The readings can be taken offline, and then uploaded when a patient comes back in range of the dongle.

    At the time of writing, the strip was not a working prototype, but was due to be within a matter of days. The working prototype is the PCB pictured above the strip, which has a flexible antenna and pressure sensors.

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Topic: Emerging Tech

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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