WorldDAB member focus - KeyStone Semiconductor Corp.
by Rebecca Keene, Stakeholder Relations Manager, WorldDAB
Q&A with Albert Tseng, CEO, KeyStone Semiconductor Corp.
What markets does your company support and what solutions do you provide?
KeyStone Semiconductor Corp. has been providing DAB+/DAB/FM IC and modules since 2009. We’ve shipped millions of modules to our customers at major DAB digital radio brands. We have different modules for different scenarios (home or vehicle) and form factors (QFP or service mount), all with UK Tick Mark approval.
We have also developed cost effective DAB signal generators for use in RD labs or factories.
We regard ourselves not only as a device vendor but as a service provider. We provide our module customers with a professional consultation on skills needed for improving sensitivity. We also provide them the service of reviewing their circuit and reference designs for DAB signal processing.
Can you tell us about your most recent projects?
In addition to continuously improving our modules for different applications, we are also developing new applications to help shape new DAB user experiences. Our new application integrates the smartphone (with an app called Udio), DAB and the cloud. It may be used to control and receive DAB audio and data services such as Slideshow, SPI (aka EPG), TPEG and RadioDNS. With the consent of customers, it will pass the RF signal strength (from the DAB receiver) and send location info (from the smartphone) to the cloud, thus contributing to build up a signal strength distribution database over locations. This database will help DAB receivers deliver a better service-following experience. The app may also use TPEG and location information to decide which relevant event shall be announced to the customer using TTS. We hope this new project can bring about new DAB user experiences far beyond audio.
What do your customers value most from your solutions?
Sensitivity - our modules carefully protect the signal path, which is most sensitive to the inevitable system noise in a function rich radio, by careful layout and ground shielding. Our customers have freedom to arrange their circuit without having to worry about sensitivity degradation.
Service – before our customers start a project, we provide training courses on circuit design and layout so they may learn how to avoid interference entering the DAB critical path. We also provide rich reference designs to help them shorten their learning curve. After that training, we help review designs and give advice. Once samples are completed, we provide test methodology for them to qualify their product. If there are frequencies with poor performance we guide them by finding out the interference source and provide advice on how to improve it.
Reliability - before we rolled out our cost effective signal generator, SABRE, most of our customers were underequipped in measuring their equipment to locate their problem quickly. Costing a fraction of the price of instrument vendors, SABRE provides power precision up to 0.5 dB. This helps our customers better control their quality in the design and manufacturing process, therefore making their product reliable for their customers.
Efficiency - SABRE has some unique design aspects which greatly improve the efficiency of our customers’ work. It’s small and lightweight and is easily moved around work spaces. Controllable by browser using a PC, tablet or even smartphone, types of content of a service are shown on the GUI. SABRE may be controlled remotely, especially useful when operated in a factory or lab.
Vehicular DAB needs to be tested for service following. Traditionally, test engineers must drive from one place to another to see if service following behaves correctly. Our specially designed S/W can control two SABRES on the same service, emulating real conditions of regional cross over. Customers control the rate of power adjustment to observe service following behaviour. This function saves time and energy used during testing.
What advice would you give someone considering deploying DAB?
DAB emerged at a time of pan-digitisation, but did not grow as fast as its counterpart in smartphones where 1G (analogue) was quickly superseded by 2 to 4G (digital), and now 5G is on the way. Therefore, there has been an argument that the digital substitute of FM will be internet instead of DAB - but this is not true. No government would dare to rule out terrestrial broadcasting because of economics and reliability (especially in catastrophe) issue. So as long as broadcasting is indispensable, DAB will be richer, more efficient and economical than FM. The only issue is to appeal to younger generations who grew up with digital devices. For anyone considering deploying DAB, our solutions mentioned in our recent projects are worth your attention.
DAB product information and support: http://www.keystonesemi.com/
For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org