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Taiwan postcards: A reporter's photojournal

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ODM? OEM?

Taiwan is blessed with several good universities that turn out top grads. Just not enough of them�especially in increasingly critical fields such as analog design and software.

The island has long been a bastion of good digital design which is fundamental. But everywhere I went people told me they need more software and analog engineers to handle the kinds of devices and services these very students will be consuming.

National Taiwan University

Scanning the horizon
You get back on the bus, wander through more industrial parks and you are at Champtek, a Taiwan company trying to champion RFID systems. For a company with a staff of just 180, it has a broad portfolio of scanners, readers and modules.

Champtek reader

One of Champtek's readers.

One of its latest is the SK-50, the sort of price checker you may see in Target or Walmart�but now with a twist. It can show video promotions or parse HTML and Javascript on Web pages thanks to its embedded PC intelligence. So far Windows CE versions are more popular than Linux versions.

The little company also aims to pioneer active RFID applications. One is an emergency rescue systems that let first responders find people who wear an RFID tag or have one in their smartphone or even woven into a shirt.

The reader can sense a tag 100 meters away. An app on a smartphone or tablet can let first responders keep track of who is where after an earthquake, tsunami or some other calamity. The readers are still relatively expensive at about US$2,000. Tags cost about US$30.

ChampTek active RFID and tablet

ChampTek active RFID and tablet

Touring the DIP switch factory
Who makes all those tiny switches and buttons you push on your mobile gadgets these days? It may be Diptronics, a private Taiwan-based company that started its life as a maker of dual in-line switches (DIP switches) and has been expanding out from there.

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