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22 ELECTRONIC NEWS SEMICONDUCTORS DECEMBER 1 r , 2000

COMMENT

Designing'Ioys thatTalk~
ERIK SOULE
Eriess 's leeom o which followed Telfort's lJMTS using Ericsson's analog cellular
license award thissummer,was a fol- networks throughout its 2G
No Child's Play Ericsson will provide Holland's
low-on to Telfort's 1997 contract
with Ericsson for delivery of a fixed
deployments," said Mohan Gyani,
president and chief executive offi-
HEN IT COMES TO but generaily cannot be upgraded national and international switching network and in 1998 for a cer of AT&T Wireless Services.
toys, there's more in the field, meaning that the telecommunications services com- nationwide GSM J 800 network. The R520 phone supports
to speech activation vocabulary is fixed from the fac- pany, T elfort, a wholly owned sub- The contract included delivery of GSM 9{IOn 8{)011900 frequencies,
than meets the tory. Speaker-dependent tech- sidiary of British Ericsson's latest AXE systems,intel- allowing communication on one
ear ~~, especially for the latest crop nology, which requires training to ligent network services, microwave phone throughout 120 countries
of toys that seems to understand recognize a particular speaker's radio MINI-LINK services, and on five continents. The R520 is
and respond to way of saying words, can be frus- '= operation ami maintenance
human voice trating for kids to set up, but services.
commands. offers the benefit of allowing Telecommunications, with a com- In March 1999 Telfort con- Wfhe UMTS services
Even more them to create custom vocabular- plete 30 UMTS network to be tracted Ericsson for the next
amazing are the ies. For example, their owner can delivered and installed in Holland expansion phase of the GSM net-
Telfort pjam~ to Jsumch~
toys that can name dolls and toy dogs. Newer by the Swedish company. work and evolution of the infra- focu§@n M:D@mce9 ind w

make sense of technologies enable toys to pick The network will consist of a structure for Ericsson's GPRS tied messaghlg9Joca D

kidsspoken out discrete key words from a complete WC'DMA system includ- system including an Internet Pro-
words and that keep working jumble of continuous speech. ing professional services and ter- tocol-based core network. In sign- tio!rn~ba§ed services and
despite the inevitable physical For speech-recognition minals as well as development of ing the agreement, Telfort became entertmn.ment piu§
punishment they receive in the engines to function properly, end-user equipment and services. the first Dutch operator to pur-
course ofplaytime. they must receive a dean incom- The contract represents a value cnaseGPRS.
UMT::;Ps m.Rdtim.edia
Today's voice-recognition ing speech signal with a high sig- of$291.4 million. In other Ericsson news, the capa:biihy. ~~
technology for toys requires not nal-to-noise ratio. Signal "We expect strong synergy company will supply network Tow!law deStegge.
only accuracy and the ability to integrity can be degraded by effects between 2G, GPRS and equipment and mobile phones to
operate in high-noise situations, many factors such as poor board the 3G installation," said Ton aan AT&TWireless in its move toward chiefexecutive@JJicftl',
but also a systemic design layout, microphone placement, de Stegge, Telfort's chief execu- 30 wireless networks. The U.S.- 1'elj'ort
approach. Voice technologists wiring, power supply design, and tive officer. "The UMTS services based company win usc Ericsson's
must consider everything from product housing design. Careful Telfort plans to launch, focus on R520 mobile phones to launch its
the placement ofmicrophones attention to these factors will M-office, unified messaging, loca- GPRSnetwork, which.itsays, will the first GPRS phone with Blue-
and sensors to the coordination allow the recognition algorithm tion-based services and enter- enhance the speed of mobile Inter- tooth and the first to support
of voice with mechanical systems. to work to its full potential in tainment plus UMTS's net services to U.S. customers next WAP 1.2.1. It also supports Chi~
From a technical perspective, challenging environmental con- multimedia capability. This is a year. Ericsson will also provide nese characters.
that means an integrated, system- ditions such as noise or great dis- logical extension of the GPRS- base-station systems including AT&T Wireless serves more
level, whole-product approach. tances. Regardless of the cause, if based services Telfort plans to GSM for voice, GPRS for packet than li5 million customers, con-
The latest generation of smart the speech-recognition technol- launch before the t;MTS network data and EDGE, and UMTS for sumers, businesses and govern-
toys can change their actions ogy doesn't approach 100per- becomes operational." higher-speed 30 applications. ment, with annual revenue ofmore
based on external stimuli, can cent accuracy, the toy's popular- This contract with Ericsson, "AT&T Wireless is currently than $7 billion. ~
"learn" from past experiences, ity will suffer precipitously.
and give the impression that they Toy designers have to think
arc truly interacting with kids. long and hard -- and have solid
Speech recognition and activa- understanding of child psychol-
tion - the ability to "understand" ogy - to incorporate both speech
and respond 10 spoken words- synthesis and speech recognition
and speech synthesis - the ability into their toys. Kids don't always
to "say" prerecorded words and follow predictable rules, nor do ATIONALSE~~CONDU{70M vide embedded systems design- established by HEmdrl Ltd. and
sentences-are crucial to the they do or say what grown-ups m:p., Santa Clara, ers with a configurablc proces- Hsinchu, Taiwan-based Umted
smart aspect of these toys. expect. This fact oflife puts enor- Calif., said today it will license sor technology for system-on- MkIf@l;!ftCOO'@IBksC@Il'p. (lJMq
Together, these technologies mous pressure on toy designers TeJm§8UC$ llme.'§ Xtensa HI intel- a-chip applications. The has produced its first ICs two
make tovs seem to come alive. to create natural vet robust user- lectual property (IP) to be Xtensa HI in particular allows months ahead of schedule
Whe~ adding speech recogni- interlaces that are flexible deployed in configurable designers to integrate DSP and using 300mm wafers. The
tion and synthesis to toys, many enough to anticipate the wide microprocessor cores for high- CPU functions onto a single- Hitachinaka City, Japan-based
interrelated factors must be range of potential options. speed Richochet modem tech- core microprocessor, Tensilica company claims it produced
addressed. First, as always, are The practical reality of nology that said. The If also allows for the first wafers fabricated in a
issues of cost The toy business is speech-recognition technology Nationalis devel- accelerated decoding, which 300mm production facility
ruthlessly cost-competitive. dictates that kids must be guided, oping with Met~i­ Tensilica says is critical in some using O.18-micron technology.
Because technology costs will be through the design of the toy com me. next-generation wireless tech- Tricenti said it has demon-
marked up four- or five-fold by itself, into using certain words National said it nologies. The IF does this strated reasonable first -silicon
the time a product gets to the and not others. wants to drive the ~owel1l through its instruction-set yields of its functional 4Mbit
retail shelves, there's enormous Finally, there are a host of Ricochet modem extensions that are built into and 8Mbit SRAM chips.
pressure for manufacturers to design issues that have nothing technology into chipscts that the cores. "With the successful com-
pinch every penny. directly to do with speech recog- the company claims win deliver "Tcnsiiica's Xtensa technol- pletion of this pilot run, we are
Speech solutions that are highly nition or synthesis, but that are a complete, easy-to-use, ogy provides a powerful, cost- positioned to offer volume pro-
integrated- that is,chips that crucial to both these technologies. mobile access technology tar- effective processor solution," duction capacity well ahead of
include not only speech algorithms Speech technologies will no geted at the wireless data prod- said Joe Montalbo, vice presi- the original scheduled
but also support circuitry such as doubt play an increasingly impor- uct sector. National and Metri- dent of the Custom Solutions roadmap,' said Toshio
microphone preamplifiers, ROM, tant role in toys of the future. But com plan to jointly market the division of National Semicon- Nohara, president of Treccnti.
RAM, ADC, DAC, and speaker as we've seen, there's a lot more chipset that is scheduled for ductor. "It uniquely Satisfies The 300Fi1m wafers have more
drivers - reduce tremendously the to incorporating these technolo- rollout sometime next year. the DSP as well as general-pur- than twice the usable area of
eventual consumer price of a toy. gies successfully into toys than "Long a pioneer in analog pose-processor needs in our 200mm wafers, yielding
A general-purpose DSP that costs simply building the algorithms to and digital components, applications. We're looking roughly 2.5 times the die. This
less might seem like a better deal generate or recognize speech. National is quickly becoming forward to utilizing its substan- can significantly reduce the
for providing speech capabilities, Toy designers and speech tech- the model for semiconductor tial power and flcxibiiity in the manufacturing costs per chip.
but when all the other supporting nologists need to work together suppliers where the focus is on Ricochet chipset and bringing When the process becomes
components are added to this DSP, from the outset to create products rapid creation of information- our product to market in an mature, Trecenti expects
the final cost far exceeds that ofthe that kids will love and that manu- appliance solutions like this accelerated timeframe." 300mm manufacturing to lower
integrated approach. facturers will be able to create. new wireless communications production costs by asmuch as
Accuracy of speech recogni- Today's smart toys may be child's technology," said Chris 30 percent. Trcccnti was estab-
tion is key. Speaker-independent play, but their design is definitely Rowen, president and chief lished in March as a dedicated
technology, in which the software the realm of experts. ~ executive officer of Tensilica. k"ENTI 'r~:Cl!iNOU)GiI':SliNC., wafer foundry with Hitachi
recognizes essentially any per- The Xtensa H' is said to pro- the joint-venture foundry IC@<ltBWiMM @" p«glf 281
son's words. makes tovs more Erik Soule is director ofmarketing
easily acces~ible out of the box, at Sensory Inc. in Sunnyvale, Calif