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Taiwan focuses on ubiquitous comm

Posted: 02 Jan 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:communication technologies  RF Integrated System module  Taiwan electronic industry 

Tsay (right) is AirDio's founder, president and CEO, while Chang is co-founder and VP of marketing and product development.

Taiwan's electronic industry has gradually evolved from being manufacturing-focused to design-focused. Technologists who had previously worked in Silicon Valley established new companies. One of these companies is AirDio Wireless Inc.

Specialising in RF design, AirDio's core team comprises engineers who had worked and studied in the United States after graduating from Taiwan universities. Two years after its inception, AirDio has obtained the patent of the RF Integrated System (RFIS) module and has gained design wins from big ODM companies like Compal Electronics Inc.

Wen Tsay, founder, president and CEO, revealed the secret of the startup's success—focus. "The first step in establishing a company is to find the right team members," Tsay said. "The right partners can lead to the maximum value created through minimal human resources and investment."

Before establishing AirDio, Tsay has gained experienced from the technological industry and is well versed in building startups. Aware of the development potential of the communications industry and the high vigor of Taiwan's top five electronic OEM/ODM companies, Tsay was inspired to return to Taiwan and create a new company.

Tsay explained that the company developed RFIS because they found out that most users do not mind the specific implementation of technology—wireless, wired or other types—for connectivity. They only ask for "ubiquitous communication."

"If the existing diverse communication technology categories can be integrated into a single device to support PAN, LAN and WAN standards, we can obtain a big business opportunity," Tsay said. Thus, AirDio was born.

Different from the approach used for IC or PCB design, AirDio's RFIS module uses SiP technology to integrate different wireless communication technologies, including WLAN and Bluetooth. By doing so, signal interference can be avoided, yield can be improved and dimensions of the finished module are almost the same as a single chip's, thus making the module suitable for portable products. This approach is similar with Intel Corp.'s Mobile Internet Device. AirDio's module has been used by big ODM companies.

According to Tsay, the cost of developing this kind of SiP module is too high for the chip vendor and the technology is strange for the system developer. However, AirDio is an independent module supplier, and can freely select IC and provide customised software/hardware design for the system developer. The next step of the company is to launch diversified wireless SiP module products with high integrity, including next-generation wireless communication technologies like DTV, UWB and WiMAX.

David Chang, co-founder and VP of marketing and product development, said that Taiwan's technology industry has received negative feedback. With the rise of new markets in India and mainland China, some have believed that Taiwan lost its dominance. Chang remains hopeful, though. He believes that Taiwan's design industry is still full of energy and potential, needs more encouragement and support, and calls policy makers and the industry's media to remain optimistic.

"Since the networking bubble trend in 2000, the global investment industry has hung back in the technology industry," Tsay shared. "Big investments have moved from Taiwan to mainland China, resulting in many startups' shortage of capital support."

Tsay thought that the move of the manufacturing industry to countries with low labour cost is becoming a global phenomenon. He suggested that the government should pay attention to the progressing design industry when planning a new development direction for the local electronic industry. He believed that this would help outstanding startup companies get a chance to make a mark in the industry.

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