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Electronics Production | October 18, 2006

STMicro, Nanotron collaborate <br>on wireless and sensors

STMicroelectronics and Nanotron Technologies GmbH announced a definitive, non-exclusive agreement under which the two companies will jointly develop complete solutions for the Real Time Location Systems (RTLS) market.

These solutions offering robust communication, precision ranging, and high-accuracy positioning, will operate on emerging low-data rate networks that meet the recently begun efforts to establish a low-data-rate wireless personal area network (IEEE 802.15.4a) standard. Nanotron brings to the effort its expertise and intellectual property in the design and manufacture of RF systems using the Chirp Spread Spectrum radio hardware and software; ST brings world-class capabilities in semiconductor technology and development, as well as its global manufacturing and marketing resources. The work will involve joint development of components and reference designs for a complete roadmap of next-generation location-awareness solutions with hardware, software, and tools, for the industrial and the active RFID asset-tracking market. A first joint Chirp product from the partners is planned for launch in early 2007. Customers will be able to take advantage of these fully compatible offerings as reliable dual sources to meet their needs for high-precision location tracking. “The continued growth of active RFID applications depends upon advancements in RF technologies, like Chirp and Symmetric Double-Sided Two-Way Ranging, to enable solutions that are highly robust, highly accurate and simple to deploy at low cost," said Jim Nicholas, General Manager of ST's Microcontroller Division. “By working with Nanotron, we intend to complement our RF LDR (Low Data Rate) products with new high-performance reliable communications platforms that will dramatically improve our customers' time-to-market." “ST partnered with Nanotron, following an extensive technical evaluation of various technology providers, because its Chirp-based platform is the most robust long-range solution offering global location features. By combining the complementary assets and expertise of our two companies, together we can be major players in the wireless personal area network (IEEE 802.15.4a) arena," concluded Nicholas. Given the accelerated growth of active RFID asset-tracking applications and the evolution towards Real Time Location Systems (RTLS), customers are searching for new technologies that can enable highly robust wireless sensor networks that improve the performance of both existing and future networks. Innovative design and development teams, combining ST's advanced microchip technology with Nanotron's system knowledge, will work together to optimise product solutions that position both companies a step ahead of the technology demands from the RF low-data-rate industry. “Chirp technology is used in nature – by dolphins for communication and by bats for ranging. Nanotron implemented the technology concept that is known from radar technology for both communication and ranging. Additionally, Nanotron was able to demonstrate the unique attributes of chirp to offer Low Probability of Detection (LPD) and Low Probability of Intercept (LPI)," stated Dr. Jens N. Albers, CEO of Nanotron. “More than just a component supplier, Nanotron products include the technical support, design integration, system compatibility and overall software functionality our customer's need to meet the demands of today's time-to-market pressure and tomorrow's technological advancements. Combining all this with ST's leadership in semiconductor processes will quickly further our mutual goal of enabling wireless infrastructure technologies." “This collaborative effort with ST supports our desire to offer customers a broader range of compatible standard-based and proprietary solutions, in addition to the security and convenience of a multiple-sourced product range. We are excited about the opportunity to cooperate with a technology leader," Dr. Albers concluded.
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