Q: Are there safeguards to limit power coming from antennas? A: The only way to solve this issue is to reduce power.
Q: What’s next, most interesting? A: Innovative research and development is done at Ethertronics (e.g., switching) to anticipate what the market is going to look like. However, it is customer driven when it comes to producing new designs for antennas—approximately 200 new designs each year. Medical device drawers (metal) were challenging; each had to have six antennas.
Q: Does Ethertronics have a single point of failure in its process, such as raw materials? A: Not that we can see. The belief is that nothing will really stump Ethertronics; it has such a wide variety of resources.
Q: How about hiring the right engineers to work for Ethertronics; has that been difficult? A: Yes. Now the company hires graduate students and trains them, enabling new employees to fit well into the company environment. Grants help fund these training sessions. There is also recruiting from local colleges (e.g., San Diego State University).
Q: How much does Ethertronics work with international companies? A. The company shows some current and advanced designs to companies in various countries. Technology shared with each country depends on the relationship and on the amount of cooperation that has occurred with that company. Samsung and Ethertronics have a good relationship based on design cooperation and past experience.
Individual attendees and speakers then generally discussed several topics and questions. Some participants noted that the future is driven largely by fancier algorithms but that other frequency bands will be needed. NATICK (U.S. Army) is interested in battlefield monitoring. Commercial is going Blue-Tooth (for heart-rate, breathing, skin temperature monitoring). When it comes to physiological monitoring, some participants wanted ubiquity and ease of use. Some participants suggested a need to figure out how to move the data and store it effectively for easy analysis. Some challenges facing the industry: Should data all be on the same network or on different networks? Where should we leverage the infrastructure that exists?
Robert Newgard, director of Advanced Radio Systems, Rockwell Collins, was the speaker.
Rockwell Collins serves two markets—commercial and military. A publicly traded company, it is there for shareholder value; the commercial side is becoming an early adapter of new technologies. Newgard opened with military radio objectives (i.e., cost-effective capabilities, support for operational needs). More specifically, today’s military requires multi-mode, multi-channel, upgradable, networked, remotely configurable, actionable information; broadband; low power, high performance; geo-location (for blue- and red-force tracking); and ultimately, any waveform, any time, any place. He also addressed software-defined radios, noting that any waveform can be loaded.
Newgard also pointed out that an array of technical challenges exist for military systems: today’s fielded radios use large radio frequency (RF) front ends and components that can accommodate the worst-case requirements (“corner” cases are difficult). Future designs need adaptable and reconfigurable RF front ends; flexible and dynamic RF performance; real-time optimization and performance; low observability; and the characteristic of being capabilities driven, not requirements driven. He explained how to do more with less. More capability with fewer assets (e.g., we have a lot of capability, but we cannot fix all issues by throwing more hardware at the problem). If one throws hardware or software at a problem, the solution could become too expensive (especially in the software realm).