The Universal Handset

Software-defined radio will let cellphones speak Wi-Fi, 3G, WiMax, and more

10 min read
Opening illustration for this feature article.
Illustration: Tavis Coburn

Time was when most radio sets had no software at all, and those that had any didn’t do much with it. But Joseph Mitola III, an engineer working for a company called E-Systems (now part of Raytheon), envisioned something very different—a mostly digital radio that could be reconfigured in fundamental ways just by changing the code running on it. In a remarkably prescient article he wrote in 1992 for the IEEE National Telesystems Conference, he dubbed it software-defined radio (SDR).

A few short years later, Mitola’s vision became reality. The mid-1990s saw the advent of military radio systems in which software controlled most of the signal processing digitally, enabling one set of electronics to work on many different frequencies and communications protocols. The first example was the U.S. military’s Speakeasy radio, which allowed units from different branches of the armed forces to communicate effectively for the first time. But the technology was costly and rather unwieldy—the first design took up racks that only a large vehicle could carry around.

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"SuperGPS" Accurate to 10 Centimeters or Better

New optical-wireless hybrid makes use of existing telecommunications infrastructure

3 min read
illustration of man looking at giant smart phone with map and red "you are here" symbol
iStock

Modern life now often depends on GPS(short for Global Positioning System), but it can err on the order of meters in cities. Now a new study from a team of Dutch researchers reveals a terrestrial positioning system based on existing telecommunications networks can deliver geolocation info accurate to within 10 centimeters in metropolitan areas.

The scientists detailed their findings 16 November in the journal Nature.

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Close-up of a colorful semiconductor wafer held the white gloved hands of a clean room technician.

A 300 millimeter silicon wafer at the Globalfoundries Inc. semiconductor plant in Dresden, Germany, on Thursday, 12 August 2021.

Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg/Getty Images

This is a guest post in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the invention of the transistor. It is adapted from an essay in the July 2022 IEEE Electron Device Society Newsletter. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE.

On the 75th anniversary of the invention of the transistor, a device to which I have devoted my entire career, I’d like to answer two questions: Does the world need better transistors? And if so, what will they be like?

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Learn How Global Configuration Management and IBM CLM Work Together

In this presentation we will build the case for component-based requirements management

2 min read

This is a sponsored article brought to you by 321 Gang.

To fully support Requirements Management (RM) best practices, a tool needs to support traceability, versioning, reuse, and Product Line Engineering (PLE). This is especially true when designing large complex systems or systems that follow standards and regulations. Most modern requirement tools do a decent job of capturing requirements and related metadata. Some tools also support rudimentary mechanisms for baselining and traceability capabilities (“linking” requirements). The earlier versions of IBM DOORS Next supported a rich configurable traceability and even a rudimentary form of reuse. DOORS Next became a complete solution for managing requirements a few years ago when IBM invented and implemented Global Configuration Management (GCM) as part of its Engineering Lifecycle Management (ELM, formerly known as Collaborative Lifecycle Management or simply CLM) suite of integrated tools. On the surface, it seems that GCM just provides versioning capability, but it is so much more than that. GCM arms product/system development organizations with support for advanced requirement reuse, traceability that supports versioning, release management and variant management. It is also possible to manage collections of related Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and Systems Engineering artifacts in a single configuration.

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