DATALABS S.A. designs, manufactures and merchandises office and industrial automation systems, such as Data Switches, Building Management Systems, Naval Fire Alarm Systems and tailor-made Software for Industrial Applications. The objective of this FUSE Application Experiment was the development and introduction to the market of a compact, low-power and cost-effective Wireless Mouse that communicates with a Personal Computer (using the RS-232 port) via RF link. A mixed Analogue-Digital ASIC was developed for this application. This ASIC included all the necessary components for the communication, RF transmission and reception, protocol administration and power management of the whole system.
The major targets/constraints of this A.E. were: Small PCB size, Low Power consumption, Operation on rechargeable batteries, High Reliability in Data Transmission, Simultaneous Operation of four mice in the same area, Robust Construction, User-Friendly Installation and Operation, Attractive Price. The target, as far as the power consumption of the new system is concerned, is that it should be at such low level so that the wireless mouse could be used for a complete working day without need for recharging its batteries. From the other hand, the target cost for the ASIC is in the order of 9 USD per piece, for a production volume of 10000 pieces.
INTRACOMs Center of Microelectronics (CEM) acted as subcontractor to the company and assisted in the specifications, design, and testing phases of the ASIC development, and also provided training on design and testing methodology, and use of CAD tools. A traditional schematic capture design approach was followed. The design was based on AMS 0.8 micron CMOS low-power technology (CYB33) and the prototypes were fabricated by a EUROPRACTICE MPW runs for low-cost prototyping reasons. DATALABS has acquired valuable experience in technical know-how, design and testing methodology for mixed Analogue-Digital ASICs and also in project management. The duration of this A.E. was 15 months (1/8/96 to 31/10/97) and the budget was 152 KECUs. With this new version of the wireless mouse, the company expects to extend its share up to 6% of the total mice market in Greece (~15,000 pieces annually) and, furthermore, enter the European market. Pay-back period is expected to be 21,5 months, while Return-of-Investment is estimated to be 3,7 times the initial investment four years after the introduction of the product into the market.
The target audience for dissemination of this Application Experiment methodology and results, could be other small-sized companies (of 10 to 15 employees) which currently develop discrete circuit boards but wish to enter the ASIC technology. The specialization areas of those companies could be: computer peripherals and other information processing equipment, instruments for checking/monitoring in houses or hotels (e.g. energy management systems) as well as in electronics appliances focusing on wireless operation.