Friday, January 8, 2010

Cell Phone Radiation Might Be Beneficial

Although there has been no conclusive evidence, there has been concerns for many years that cell phone radiation could cause cancer or have other negative effects on our body. But now researchers at Florida Alzheimer's Disease Research Centre (published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease) have evidence that it could help protect us from Alzheimer's disease. The scientists found that phone radiation actually protected the memories of mice programmed to get Alzheimer's disease. They are now testing more frequencies to see if they can get better results.

Summary of BBC article linked above:
The study involved 96 mice, most of which had been genetically altered to develop beta-amyloid plaques in their brains, which are a marker of Alzheimer's disease, as they aged. The rest of the mice were non-demented. All the mice were exposed to the electro-magnetic field generated by a standard phone for two one-hour periods each day for seven to nine months.

The Alzheimer's mice performed as well on tests measuring memory and thinking skills as aged mice without dementia. If older Alzheimer's mice already showing memory problems were exposed to the electro-magnetic waves, their memory impairment disappeared.

The memory benefits of phone exposure took months to show up, suggesting that a similar effect in humans would take years. The researchers conclude that electro-magnetic field exposure could be an effective, non-invasive and drug-free way to prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease in humans.

Wow, something positive about RF radiation exposure. Maybe we should be buying cell phones with the highest SAR levels instead of the lowest. What do you think?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

CES Show Projects Optimistic Electronics Market

Keeping an eye on the CES show, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) President and CEO Gary Shapiro announced that the consumer electronics (CE) industry will generate more than $165 billion in U.S. shipment revenues this year, a slight increase from 2009, according to the semi-annual industry forecast released today.

“2009 is a year none of us wish to repeat and now we look forward to 2010. There is light at the end of the tunnel and it is the bright light of innovation,” said Shapiro. “We are seeing more innovation at this show than at any show in our history. There are a record number of new exhibitors, more than 330, among the 2,500 companies showcasing the next generation of technology.”

The CE industry will see positive revenue growth in 2010 after a revenue decline in 2009. Total industry shipment revenues fell an estimated 7.8 percent in 2009 although unit volume increased nearly ten percent for the year as consumers bought electronics at a value, limiting industry revenues. As the economy begins its slow recovery from the recession, the CE industry will lead the way as popular product categories are poised for growth in 2010.

The wireless handset category is expected to have a strong 2010, becoming the primary revenue driver for the industry. Smartphones continue to lead the way, generating nearly $17 billion in shipment revenue and more than 52 million unit sales in 2010. Smartphones comprise more than 30 percent of total wireless phone shipments, with that number increasing in the years ahead.

Sales of computers are also expected to be a bright spot in 2010 as the category continues to be driven by the popularity of netbooks. Netbook sales more than doubled in 2009 as the computer category showed stronger sales than previous forecasts predicted. In 2010, more than 30 million notebooks will be sold, generating more than $14 billion in revenue.

I think we will really see an expansion of more wireless devices as WiFi enabled printers, digital cameras and e-readers penetrate the market. I see TVs, video cameras and MP3 players being connected next as higher bandwidth connections become available which would be exciting to have all of our devices finally connected to each other.

I also think it will be a year where the connected home starts to develop for monitoring and controlling lights, appliances and HVAC as energy conservation continues to be a frontline issue. There are several iPhone apps that already enable this monitoring with appropriate hardware (I might have to get one now). There are many wireless technologies fighting to become the solution in this space which would include smart meter reading and monitoring (ZigBee, WiFi, Bluetooth, Z-wave, DECT, etc.).

What do you think will be the hot areas in Consumer Electronics this year?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pat's Predictions for 2010

New for this year I have put together my predictions for 2010 for RF and microwave industry related topics. Some are conservative because they are based on recent events or articles and some are just things that I think might have a possibility of happening but the probability is relatively low. So here we go:

  • The US Gov’t Broadband Initiative Stimulus money will be slow to come but even with the many hundreds of millions given out, it will have little or no affect on rural broadband access penetration (see our Oct 09 article on the Broadband Stimulus Program)

  • LDMOS and GaN will gain major market share in the power product applications and become the leading materials for high power applications in their respective frequency sweet spots (see our June 09 article on the Power Brokers)

  • We will see some control components integrated on GaN MMICs (i.e. switches, limiters, etc.)

  • Nonlinear characterization advancements in the last couple of years will take hold in the marketplace as widely accepted techniques (X-parameters, S-functions, etc.)

  • Several amplifiers with greater than 80% efficiency above 1 GHz will be developed as new high efficiency design techniques are exploited

  • LTE will make large gains in deployments but not come close to exceeding WiMAX in the number of users (in 2011 I predict LTE will overtake WiMAX)

  • SoC and SiP solutions will start to take hold in several applications where discrete solutions used to rule (WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, etc.) - see our Feb 09 article on SoC/SiP

  • Wireless HDTV products will be released into the mass market and one protocol will distance its self as the leading solution of the 4 vying for acceptance (see our Aug 09 article on Wireless HDTV)

  • RFID will finally take off and see significant growth in multiple markets including front of the store (POS) applications

  • As a result of the terrorists taping into our UAV video signals, new funding and significant resources will be spent on wireless encryption for the US military

  • As a result of the failed terrorist attack on the Detroit bound plane, there will be renewed interest and purchases of mmWave and Terahertz body scanners for airport security

  • As the military backs off the Future Combat Systems approach as being too expensive, advanced software defined radios will be demonstrated for near future systems

  • Smart IED jammers will be developed that actively adapt to different frequencies via software control as IED attacks continue to dominate our attention (see our August 08 supplement article on IED Jammers)
  • A new military broadband satellite communications program will be proposed to ease the capacity crunch for bandwidth (see our August 09 article on the SATCOM Capacity Crunch)

Let me know what you think will happen this year with your comments.