Tuesday July 3, 2007

Campus Report July 3, 2007

A University associate professor of electrical engineering may soon have people using their cell phones to pay for groceries, starting cars and unlocking their front doors.

Thanks to a technology developed by a UD associate professor of electrical engineering, you may soon use your cell phone to pay for your groceries, start your car or unlock your house.

Subramanyam Guru Subramanyam has developed a way to cut the number of filters used to sort the frequencies that allow cell phones to perform as PDAs, iPods, cameras, phones and TVs. That means even more time-saving capabilities can be added to cell phones. Motorola and Nokia have expressed an interest in “tunable varactors,” a technology that has been licensed to Analog Bridge Inc., a Beavercreek, Ohio, company.

It's the first technology licensed through the Institute for Development Commercialization of Advanced Sensor Technology, a statewide initiative led by the University of Dayton and funded by an Ohio Third Frontier grant to transform the state into the center of the sensor technology industry. The technology was displayed at the World's Best Technologies Showcase in Arlington, Texas, in May.

“Every time we bring a new opportunity to a cell phone, we add a load and need a new frequency,” said Gregg Steinhauer, Analog Bridge president and CEO. “You can put only so many filters in a phone without making it bigger or killing the battery. Our technology could cut the number of filters in a phone from five to two, and the phone still can allow more capabilities.”

He added that the technology could also work in wireless networks, satellites and two-way radios to allow people to switch channels faster than what is allowed by current methods.

Subramanyam said the tunable varactors are made of a thin, ceramic film that is less expensive than silicon-based devices commonly used in cell phones. Very low battery-powered voltage changes manipulate the electrical properties of the film to switch the frequencies that allow the use of different gadgets and improve signal reception.