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For pioneering research and development in the field of Software Defined Radio, which has resulted in growing commercialization of this emerging technology by industry
Communications Research Centre Canada, Advanced Radio Systems Group
FPTT Technology Transfer Award for the successful development and transfer of the ROBYS™ system, a process to remove contaminants from thermally cracked waste oils.
The breakdown of communications during a crisis or a natural disaster can swiftly turn an emergency into a catastrophe. As Hurricane Katrina illustrated in 2005, open lines of contact between a stricken area and rescuers struggling to get to it are critical lifelines.
An emerging software technology pioneered by Communications Research Centre Canada (CRC) will soon provide reliable and uninterrupted communication between radios and other devices that will enable people to stay connected, particularly when they need it most.
The Software Defined Radio (SDR) system replaces traditional radio circuit boards with a single hardware unit that can be adapted and reprogrammed to as many frequency bands or communications protocols as required. SDR simplifies the way radio software and hardware components interact, in much the same way that personal computers perform multiple tasks by tying together separate programs.
The most successful transfers of technology and knowledge are based on clear goals shared by partners who are confident of each other's ability and expertise. The CRC team played a key leadership role in the development of the SDR system, collaborating with an international forum of industry experts to improve and build upon technical specifications first developed in 1998 by the U.S. Department of Defense. Recognizing CRC as a world leader in innovative communications research, the Forum asked the Canadian team to provide to the international community an implementation of the SDR specifications as well as the design of a low-cost radio prototype, to be used as a catalyst for the development of more complex radio systems.
This project was unique for more than the number of partners involved in the development stages.
Frequently, technology is transferred exclusively to a single company. In this case, the challenge was to disseminate the technology as widely as possible. To promote its technology offering, CRC developed an open-source version of the software architecture and posted it free of charge on its website (www.crc.ca/scari). Since 2002, the implementation has been downloaded more than 7,000 times, making CRC known worldwide for the quality of its software.
To expand its reach to radio manufacturers, CRC teamed up with third-party hardware and software vendors to ensure their products complied with the SDR specifications. The resulting success in the radio industry indicates a paradigm shift for the development of embedded systems requiring intensive signal processing such as radio, test equipment and sensors.
In its role as a catalyst, CRC has also formed several partnerships with Canadian companies and universities
to create new products and research projects. Since 2004, CRC has licensed its software suite to 16 companies, generating approximately $600,000 in royalty revenue in 2005. A further $400,000 has resulted from CRC's consulting services and technical training to businesses exploiting the technology.
Targeted to the wireless communications systems market, companies have expanded the technology's potential to a much broader field, including applications in avionics, automotive, home automation, medical equipment and sensors.