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TDK uses Bluetooth to remove cables from factory sites

While Bluetooth is being assailed by rivals such as Wireless USB and 802.11, TDK Systems Europe has launched Bluetooth modules aimed at doing away with cables on the factory floor, writes Antony Adshead.

TDK's offering uses radio frequency to link equipment, such as program logic controllers, in industrial environments. In these situations corrosive or physical dangers threaten cables and the maintenance is more involved and costly than in the office environment. Bluetooth has a range of 10m that can be extended to 100m with signal amplifiers.

The Intelligent Serial Module should allow developers to reduce the cost and time of integrating systems that involve remote machinery sensing and could be used for less demanding functions such as vending machine monitoring. The device acts as a dumb serial device to the host system, using flash memory to implement its Bluetooth functions and controls operations by normal modem AT commands.

Head of research and development at TDK Systems, Nick Letheren, said, "Bluetooth has already proven itself as a useful and highly interoperable means of connecting various types of mobile computing and telephony devices. We see it having a big future in the industrial sector in 2003."

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