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Last Updated: Friday, 3 June, 2005, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
iPod and Bluetooth lead to prizes
Image of an Apple iPod
iPod creator, Jonathan Ive, has been widely recognised for his ideas
The designer of Apple's iPod and one of the biggest names behind Bluetooth chip technology have received honours from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Jonathan Ive, Apple's vice-president of industrial design, won the coveted President's Medal for his contribution in promoting engineering excellence.

The UK's engineering body also awarded CSR the prestigious MacRobert award for its single-chip BlueCore technology.

The 50,000 MacRobert Prize rewards innovative technology and engineering.

The awards ceremony, dubbed the "engineering Oscars", also included other medals recognising British engineering prowess and achievements.

They were handed out at a ceremony in London which was attended by the UK government's minister for science, Lord Sainsbury.

The 'noise' of the electrical signals on a tiny electronic chip would normally swamp a radio receiver working with micro-volt signals
Dr Phil O'Donovan, CSR co-founder
Cambridge company CSR beat three other finalists to the top MacRobert Prize, including a sea-floor mapping system that spots oil and gas deposits, saving millions in exploratory drilling.

Other finalists included a mobile phone tracking program that pinpoints emergency callers and maps traffic jams, and a revolutionary fibre laser.

CSR's key technology breakthrough in the late 1990s was to create a silicon chip with an integral radio transmitter.

"It sounds easy but in fact the 'noise' of the electrical signals on a tiny electronic chip would normally swamp a radio receiver working with micro-volt signals, and at the time it was thought to be impossible," said Dr Phil O'Donovan, CSR's co-founder.

They found a way around the problem by managing frequencies so that radio signals could communicate through the noise of a silicon chip's digital traffic.

This is akin to the "cocktail party" effect, where certain voices can be heard over the crowd.

Blue everywhere

Its BlueCore technology is in millions of consumer electronics, such as personal digital assistants, laptops and mobiles, which need short-range communication capability.

Bluetooth is becoming increasingly important in helping different devices talk to each other wirelessly, such as hands-free headsets.

It is also being used more by the fashion industry, such as sunglass maker Oakley and snowboarding clothes maker Burton.

Image of man in a car using a Bluetooth headset
Bluetooth invisibly helps devices talk to each other
Having wireless capability built into clothing and accessories means people can use devices such as mobiles more easily whilst on the move or otherwise occupied.

CSR, widely recognised as the global leader in Bluetooth, is what is called a "fabless" company.

This means it focuses on the design and development of its Bluetooth micro-processors, then forms alliances with silicon wafer manufacturers and foundries who make them.

It has designed over 30 types of BlueCore silicon chips. Since 1999, 75 million of its chips have been sold and used in over 60% of all Bluetooth-enabled devices.

The President's Medal is given on an ad hoc basis to people or organisations who have made significant contributions to the academy's aims of promoting engineering excellence, but who are not eligible for election to the academy.

Mr Ive's iPod engineering and design has made the device the biggest-selling portable digital music player in the world.

It dominates 80% of the music player market; by the end of 2005 more than 35 million iPods will have been shipped.

Other awards on the night included the Academy's first ever Lifetime Achievement prize which was given to Dr Philip Woodward, retired deputy chief scientific officer, for his pioneering work on radar.

He was also behind one of the UK's first electronic computers (TREAC) followed by the UK's first solid state computer (RREAC).



SEE ALSO:
The changing nature of innovation
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Engineering the difference
10 Dec 04 |  Business
When invention turns to innovation
10 Nov 04 |  Technology
Sony wares win innovation award
22 Oct 04 |  Technology


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