OSLO, NORWAY: "Thor" isn't just the name of the mythological God of Thunder and a new Hollywood movie. It also is the name chosen by ST-Ericsson for two of its first wireless modems based on a new architecture. According to the company, these modems will enable manufacturers to develop power-efficient devices that can connect to Long Term Evolution (LTE) and HSPA+ networks around the world. Consumers will be able to use these devices to access the Internet at high speeds both in their own countries and when roaming.

The Thor M7400 platform supports the latest LTE and HSPA+ dual-carrier technologies, while the Thor M7300 supports High Speed Packet Access Plus (HSPA+) capabilities to 84 Mb/swhile preserving backward compatibility to existing third-/second-generation (3G/ 2G) networks. The modems feature a small, integrated radio solution that supports as many as eight LTE/ HSPA/GSM bands. The Thor M7400 and M7300 provide capabilities to improve the mobile broadband performance of smartphones and tablets.

The modems are based on a common architecture, which enables ST-Ericsson and its customers to re-use modem certification and application processor interfaces across existing platforms. The Thor M7400 can connect to 2G, 3G, TD-SCDMA, HSPA, HSPA+ dual-carrier, and LTE frequency-division-duplexing (FDD)/time-division-duplexing (TDD) networks. It offers peak download speeds to 100 Mb/s in LTE networks. In addition, the Thor M7400 supports voice calls via fallback to circuit-switched networks and the voiceover- LTE (VoLTE) standard. Thor M7300 can connect to HSPA+ networks at peak download speeds to 84 Mb/s.

Bluetooth Watch Will Find Your Smartphone

Oslo, Norway: Later this year, retailers will be offering a Bluetooth low-energy watch product based on Nordic Semiconductor's {LC MU}Blue nRF8001 chip (Fig. 2). The Casio G-SHOCK Bluetooth Low Energy shock-resistant model will be able to communicate with Bluetooth v4.0-equipped smartphones. One might wonder: If you have the smartphone, why do you need the watch?

Here are some reasons why: It includes time correction from smartphone to watch; alerts of incoming calls, e-mails, and SMS from smartphone to watch; and a finder function. That function enables users to locate a misplaced phone by activating the smartphone's alarm and vibration functions from a button on the watch. Just don't lose the watch, okay?

With the Nordic technology provided by the nRF8001 device, this watch can run from a single CR2032 coin-cell watch battery for as long as two yearswhile providing to 12 h each day of continuous wireless communication with Bluetooth v4.0-equipped smartphones and other devices. The Casio G-SHOCK Bluetooth Low Energy Watch weighs about the same (65 g) as a conventional Casio G-SHOCK watch.

Easy Access To NFC Tags

Eindhoven, The Netherlands: Dutch semiconductor firm NXP Semiconductors and UPM RFID, a manufacturer of passive high-frequency (HF) and ultra-high-frequency (UHF) identification tags and inlays, have entered into a technical collaboration. Their goal is to develop easier access to near-field-communication (NFC) tags that are used in a variety of mobile applications (Fig. 1). NXP is expected to provide the NFC integrated circuits (ICs) while UPM RFID will design and manufacture the NFC tags and inlays. NFC tags contain information that can be accessed by an NFC-enabled device. Data can be easily written to and stored in these tags, which are used in a variety of applications like peer-to-peer data exchange (e.g., business cards), location-based advertisements, loyalty programs, and discount coupons.