Iona Wi-Fi Portable Internet Radio Costs Less than $15 to Build

Cambridge Consultants will launch a platform design which rewrites the economics of the emerging internet radio market. Based on just two ICs, the Iona Wi-Fi portable radio can be built with an electronic bill-of-materials (eBOM) costing less than $15.

This incredibly small figure could lead to consumer products retailing for around $50 to $60 – which is under half of most of today’s internet-ready ‘kitchen radio’ type products. Designed to operate without a PC, the Iona radio technology is as accessible and easy to use as today’s portable FM radios.

“Our design ethos has focused on stripping the BOM to the absolute minimum, and optimizing power consumption,” says Cambridge Consultants’ head of consumer products, Duncan Smith. “As a result, we believe this platform could stimulate a new category of consumer electronics product, or act as a cost-effective add-on for established product lines such as DAB and satellite radios or MP3 players, or even a product associated with a brand such as a broadband service provider.”

To illustrate the feasibility of the radio – and to provide a rapid means of manufacturing finished products in time for the 2007 Christmas season markets – Cambridge Consultants will also show a number of potential packages, including a wearable format and table-top designs.

The design requires just two major ICs: an 802.11 b/g device targeted at the portable embedded systems market, and a multimedia applications chip combining DSP with a 16-bit RISC processor core from Cambridge Consultants’ own XAP family.

The hardware is completely programmable and the design will implement a large set of protocols and CODEC formats. The platform is capable of supporting RTP, HTTP, RDT and MMS for instance, plus MP3, WMA, AAC, AIFF and WAV data formats, and SNTP clock functionality. The platform also supports WEP, WPA and WPA2 security. Further protocols can be added rapidly.

In addition to minimizing the eBOM, Cambridge Consultants’ design focuses on reducing power consumption, allowing personal radio products to operate for up to 30 hours from two standard AA cells if the access point supports power saving mode, or in excess of 15 hours otherwise.

The total cost of components listed in the eBOM at high volumes is under $15, including a 112 x 64 black-and-white graphic LCD.

“Traditional radios offer listeners the choice of relatively few stations that have to appeal to a very broad audience. Internet radio gives listeners access to many thousands, catering for very specific tastes from the mainstream to the exotic. Internet radio also allows you to tune in to your home town station wherever you happen to be in the world,” adds Smith. “Combined with the existing infrastructure of Wi-Fi and broadband, we believe that the internet radio market is poised to explode as soon as the right product price/performance point is achieved. The Iona platform more than meets that target.”

The experience of developed countries illustrates what happens when the rich and diverse content of internet radio is easily accessible.

A report from the media audience researcher Bridge Ratings notes that weekly listening figures in the US alone for internet radio were estimated at over 60 million in April 2006, and are expected to grow to almost 1 in 4 of the US population by the end of 2006. The firm predicts growth from 70 to over 180 million listeners during the 2006 to 2010 period.*

These figures are driven by the massive penetration of broadband internet connections in developed countries. There are almost a quarter of a billion connections already installed worldwide, and this base is growing at around 36% annually.**

About Cambridge Consultants
For over 40 years Cambridge Consultants has enabled its clients to turn business opportunities into commercial successes, whether launching first-to-market products, entering new markets or expanding existing markets through the introduction of new technologies. It develops breakthrough products, creates and licenses intellectual property, and provides business consultancy in technology critical issues for clients worldwide. With a team of over 200 engineers, scientists and consultants, in offices in Cambridge (UK) and Boston (USA), it is able to offer solutions across a diverse range of industries including healthcare, industrial and consumer products, automotive, transport, energy and wireless communications.

Cambridge Consultants Ltd, Science Park, Milton Road, Cambridge, CB4 0DW, UK. Tel: +44 (0)1223 420024; Fax: +44 (0)1223 423373

Cambridge Consultants Inc., 451 D Street, Boston MA 02210, USA. Tel: +1 617 532 4700; Fax: +1 617 737 9889

* From Bridge Ratings & Research‘s semi-annual study
** World broadband Statistics Q2 2006, published by Point Topic