LONDON – BlinkSight SA (Caen, France) a fabless chip company has released a single-chip transceiver for real-time location system (RTLS) and wireless sensor network (WSN) applications.
The chip uses an impulse-radio technology developed by the IMEC (Leuven, Belgium) and Holst Centre (Eindhoven, The Netherlands) research institutes that enables real-time 3-D location information that is accurate to within 10 centimeters, IMEC said.
Impulse radio is a form of ultra-wide band radio in which pulses of short duration, typically nanoseconds, are transmitted with their energy spread out from dc to a few gigahertz. The BlinkSight IC combines DSP and analog radio functionality and operates in both the 3.1- to 4.8-GHz and the 6 to 10-GHz bands. The chip is manufactured for BlinkSight by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. in a standard 90-nm RF CMOS process.
The claim for the technology is that it has high accuracy at long range and with low power consumption. The chip includes a software-programmable 128-bit vector DSP that consumes less than 16-picojoules per cycle. It operates at ranges up to and beyond 60 meters with line-of-sight and at up to and beyond 20-meters with no line of sight, IMEC said. More than five years operation is projected from a standard coin battery.
The chip operates over a voltage range of 1.5 to 3.6-volts and is suitable for battery-powered applications in tags, wireless sensors, basestations and mobile devices. A basestation containing the BlinkSight IC could keep track of thousands of fast-moving tags in real time, IMEC said.
"A lot of effort went into minimizing power consumption, and we expect to have tags powered by energy harvesting available soon. We aim to bring a complete turnkey system to market and want to work with industry leaders to bring accurate indoor GPS capabilities to connected devices," said Stephane Mutz, CEO of BlinkSight, in a statement issued by IMEC.
"Adding highly accurate indoor capabilities to connected devices such as smartphones paves the way for a broad range of game changing consumer applications across ‘Internet of Things’ segments like smart homes, offices and retail," said Guus Frericks, chief marketing officer of BlinkSight, in a statement issued by IMEC.
BlinkSight was formed in 2011 by engineers with experience gained at Philips, NXP and ST-Ericsson.
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