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In brief

01 April, 2004

In Brief

Motorola has announced a range of acceleration and pressure sensing chips which communicate using the ZigBee wireless communications standard defined in IEEE 802.15.4. The company says the chips, based on MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems) technology, will be cheaper and easier to install and reconfigure than cabled devices.

• A consortium of companies including ABB, Danfoss, SEW-Eurodrive and Siemens, has founded and financed an Engineering Centre for Power Electronics (ECPE) to promote research, education and technology transfer in this field. Thomas Harder has been appointed as general manager of the Centre, based in Nuremberg, Germany.

Agilent Technologies has developed a pluggable transceiver that allows Ethernet to be transmitted at rates of more than 1Gbit/s along standard copper cables. The company says that the technology, which can transmit at 1.25Gbit/s over a distance of up to 100m on Category 5 cable, will provide users with a low-cost upgrade path.

International Rectifier has launched a high-performance half-bridge inverter chip for appliance motor drives. The IR3101 device is said to simplify inverter designs for one-, two- or three-phase motor drives for fans, pumps and compressors up to 400W.

Digi International claims to have developed the first customisable and secure 32-bit 802.11b wireless embedded modules. The modules will allow manufacturers to add wireless functions to existing products simply by substituting the new wireless modules for existing wired communications. This will eliminate the need for new development efforts.

• A range of dolls due to reach toyshops by Christmas, will have lifelike movements produced by a novel, low-cost actuator technology based on shape memory alloys. The Twinkleberry dolls, developed by the Hong Kong toy-maker Radica Games, will react to children playing teachers by raising their arms to answer questions, and making other movements. The dolls will be among the first toys to incorporate the NanoMuscle actuators developed by the Californian company of the same name. The actuators are 1/10th the cost, 1/20th the weight and 1/20th the volume of equivalent DC motors. NanoMuscle`s backers include Volkswagen, Daimler Chrysler and Schneider Electric

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