Bluetooth pioneers land engineering prize

The champagne should be flowing at Cambridge Silicon Radio after the firm's top brass were rewarded for their wireless work

Five engineers at a UK wireless chipmaker are sharing £50,000 after scooping one of the UK's biggest prizes for technology research and development on Friday.

The group, all senior executives at Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR), have been awarded this year's MacRobert Award by the Royal Academy of Engineering, for their work on CSR's BlueCore processor.

BlueCore is a silicon chip with an inbuilt Bluetooth radio transmitter. Previously, such a device would not work because radio waves given out by the silicon chip would effectively deafen the Bluetooth radio. CSR's trick was to design the chip so that the electrical signals it emitted did not drown out other signals on the frequencies needed for Bluetooth communication.

"This is like the 'cocktail party' effect, where you can hear certain voices over the crowd," explained the The Royal Academy of Engineering in a statement.

This single chip product made it cheaper and easier for device manufacturers to add Bluetooth suppport. CSR has now designed more than 30 different models of BlueCore, and has shipped more than 100 million chips.

The five engineers are chief executive John Hodgson, commercial director Dr Phil O'Donovan, technical director James Collier, marketing director Glenn Collinson and vice-president of Operations Chris Ladas. They will receive the prize, plus a gold medal for CSR, from Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, at Buckingham Palace on 6 June.

This is the second year running that the MacRobert Award has been won by an IT company. In 2004 it went to a team from IBM's Hursley Lab for developing WebSphere MQ application integration software -- the first time in the award's 36-year history that a software development team had triumphed.


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