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Philippine ODM firm highlights Zigbee at ESEC in Tokyo

Posted: 07 Jul 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:embedded linux? embedded systems expo & conference? imi? wi-fi? home automation?

The exhibit floor of the 8th Embedded Systems Expo & Conference (ESEC) in Tokyo, Japan saw a coming-out party for Zigbee, as Philippine-based ODM firm Eazix Inc., demonstrated Zigbee applications for home automation. Eazix, design arm of EMS provider Integrated Microelectronics Inc. (IMI), also showcased Wi-Fi, embedded Linux and other technologies.

According to Chicho Mantaring, head of component development at Eazix, "Zigbee is expected to generate a lot of interest in Japan," saying that the ratification of Zigbee spec 1.0 last year could pave the way for wide adoption of the technology. The company, Mantaring claims, is "one of the earlier developers of Zigbee technology."

ABI Research predicts a deployment of about 80 million Zigbee devices by the end of 2006, and Mantaring believes that Zigbee is well on its way to that number.

"Zigbee will take off this year," Mantaring said. "While industrial or enterprise applications for Zigbee are on the rise, home applications are just emerging. I think that demand will grow fast starting this year."

Through the Tokyo show, Eazix hopes not only to fast-track the adoption of Zigbee, but also increase Eazix's visibility in the embedded and wireless market, particularly in Japan.

"Japan in itself is a big market. It is huge enough for both Eazix and IMI. Japan is one of our areas of interest," Mantaring said.

Wireless tech

At the ESEC show, Eazix highlighted three technologies--Zigbee, Wi-Fi and embedded systems development using Linux.

The low-power Eazix EZZBM01 Zigbee module provides reliable long-range RF communication on 16 channels at the 2.4GHz band. It includes an in-system programmable processor with integrated 32KB of flash memory and is built around the Chipcon CC2420 RF transceiver.

For Wi-Fi, the company demonstrated a wireless multimedia streaming device for the home that supports high-speed operation of up to 54Mbps. The Eazix EZWFDO03 wireless multimedia adapter is a technology based on the Conexant CX24611 Tarantino reference design that enables the playback of multimedia content from a PC to a TV set or stereo equipment through a WLAN connection.

But while Eazix highlighted some Wi-Fi technologies, Mantaring admits that "it's difficult to compete in the Wi-Fi market" because there are too many competitors within that segment.

Tying the knot

Eazix co-exhibited with Japanese software development firm Embedded Linux Technology (ELT). The recent ESEC show is testament to the strengthening partnership of Eazix and ELT. The two companies are taking their affiliation to the next level with the establishment of a Philippine design center where Eazix will have a dedicated pool of engineers for ELT projects.

Two years ago, Eazix and ELT met at SODEC (Software Development Expo & Conference), which was co-located with ESEC in Tokyo. Since then, the two companies have engaged in several development projects. Moving forward, the two firms now want a "tighter relationship."

"Before, it was just a relationship between service provider and customer. Now, we want it to be a formal partnership," Eazix's Mantaring said, especially since their projects are now increasing in complexity. "Now, it's not only software or Linux-related. ELT also outsources hardware projects."

"Currently, ELT is our ODM-management arm in Japan. They supply hardware. But we want to be involved in hardware development." This means that ELT will pitch work from Japan, abstract specifications, and transfer those specifications to the Philippines. Eazix, meanwhile, will execute the designs and send the completed projects back to ELT.

Mantaring believes that, with a partnership with ELT, Eazix will be "more involved in the project build-up, improve time-to-market of products" and increase visibility in the Japanese market.

- Jerico Abila

Electronics Engineering Times- Asia

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