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On Electronics

Voice recognition; multilayer ceramic capacitor; backing up the home; building redundancy in throttle sensing.

Speaking Up on Voice Recognition

 
Leaving Apple’s Siri by the side of the road for the moment, the lure of advanced voice recognition and enabling technologies behind the wheel has become the bright shiny killer app. But standing in the way is a “bottleneck” of data that needs processing. This includes high-definition video, 3D navigation and Internet connectivity that is consuming both processing power and memory bandwidth, says Michael Palma, senior research analyst with International Data Corporation 
(idc.com). 
 
Using a dedicated application coprocessor “can dramatically improve system responsiveness and latency of voice recognition systems while giving the CPU more capacity to focus on other resource-intensive applications, enabling a better user experience across the board,” Palma wrote. 
 
Palma’s take was included in an announcement by Flash memory maker Spansion Inc. (spansion.com), which released its Spansion Acoustic Coprocessor, a human-machine interface aimed at automotive companies (as well as, unsurprisingly, video game and consumer electronics firms). 
 
The coprocessor integrates Nuance Communications’ (nuance.com) VoCon software. It is designed for swifter response time and accuracy over conventional voice interfaces by supporting larger acoustic databases and picking up the processing workload from a conventional CPU. 
 
Early results, according to Spansion, indicate that system response times are improved by 50% over traditional systems that rely on an application processor alone. 
 
Without naming specific OEMs, Spansion says its demo platform is under evaluation by automotive manufacturers. 
 
 

A Multilayer Ceramic Capacitor

 
Murata Americas’ (murataamericas.com) new multilayer ceramic capacitor lines (MLCCs)—the KCM and the KRM series—contain metal terminals and a new design to reduce noise in hot and harsh environments. 
 
Its KCM line meets ACQ-Q200 requirements and the KRM series is designed for commercial use. Both series reach high capacitance levels, from 4.7 to 47µF. Additionally, Murata notes the design is reliable when it comes to thermal or mechanical stress, while reducing acoustic noise. The hush factor makes each series ideal for applications such as DC-DC converter noise suppression circuits in both cars and commercial vehicles. 
 
The KCM and KRM series is available either in a single-chip or double-chip package. 
 
 

Backing Up the Home

 
The EV future is not a one-way road. Or so Nissan Motor Co. posits with the “LEAF to Home,” a power-supply system capable of providing 24 kWh from the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery packs back to the home. When connected with the EV Power Station, a 6-kW power output charging system by Nichicon Corp. (nichicon.com), the LEAF charging port can push power to the home’s electrical distribution panel. 
 
The EV can essentially behave as a back-up power source during power outages. When fully charged, the LEAF can power the average Japanese home for two full days, according to the company. Nissan describes the EV Power Station as the size of an air conditioning unit. Nissan projects sales of 10,000 units during the 2013 fiscal year in Japan. 
 
With Japanese government subsidies, pricing for the EV Power Station is pegged at 330,000 yen (~$4,100 U.S.) with the consumption tax and installation charge (300,000 yen excluding tax).
 
Not only does electricity go into the Nissan LEAF, but in Japan Nissan is offering a system through which power can 
be discharged into a home’s electrical distribution panel.
 
 

Building Redundancy in Throttle Sensing

 
The KMA220 from NXP Semiconductors (nxp.com) is a blend of two sensor systems into a single package that builds in redundancy for throttle control applications. The dual magnetic sensor functions in a simple disk magnet configuration, which makes PCB or external components unnecessary. 
 
In addition to its three capacitors, the fully calibrated KMA220 incorporates two sensor dies and two signal conditioning ASICs, with the aim of cost reductions and simplified assembly compared with the more traditional method of installing two single sensors on a leadframe or onto a PCB.
 
Stephan zur Verth, NXP Semiconductors vice president and general manager for sensor business, said the company next plans to release a single sensor product in the same package “which means that our customers will be able to use the same assembly process for all applications, making it easy for them to choose and install the right solution for their products.”
 
NXG Semiconductors’ two-sensor system, the KMA220, builds in redundancy for throttle control systems.
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