Multi-region Tuner

multi-region tuner, fitness equipment manufacturer, embedded technology

Thanks to advanced technology, fitness equipment can now be interactive and customized to the user’s entertainment of choice. Users can stream music, watch TV and movies, even sync their exercise routine to social media. To enable this, software designers work with hardware engineers to invent and code gadgets such as a tuner. Not only do they have to create the initial device, they also have to problem solve to adapt a fixed technology to a variety of modalities.

For example, an OEM manufacturer produced a tuner similar to a USB drive. This device could embed computers, software and displays into exercise equipment. This allowed the user to watch television during workouts. To this extent, the tuner was installed to optimize and decoded the TV signal. Consumers loved it and business boomed. The OEM manufacturer was able to market the product on the global stage. However issues with regional adaptability led them to engage EmbedTek to create a next generation display.

Problem
The tuner technology enabled multimedia interface that drove consumer demand. Even when the company went global, they were able to support different international TV standards by sourcing a wide variety of tuners. However there were several problems associated with this attempted solution. It was difficult maintaining multiple hardware SKUs for different regions. An inordinate amount of time was spent engineering with consumer products in their system. Additionally most tuners connect through a standard USB connector, some did not. There were also physical size difference and different thermal management requirements. On top of this, there was little or no advance warning of end of life, questionable driver support and no consistent quality management system. These issues threatened the customer’s abilities to grow internationally and maintain product quality.

Solution
EmbedTek realized that a single hardware solution could address foreseeable requirements posed by different regions. A standard tuner was not a working option for all the regions involved. Therefore Embedtek’s engineers focused on a Software Defined Radio (SDR) based solution. SDR uses programmable digital technology to interpret the complex signal demodulation. Through SDR a solution to globalized manufacturing was born. A universal tuner could be created and then configured via software to perform the region specific demodulation.
EmbedTek designed the internal board of the universal tuner. Our experienced mechanical engineers ensured that the board was secured in the finished system to protect it from shock and vibration. They also removed the plastic shell typically found on USB drivers. This simplified thermal management.

EmbedTek then sourced the components and managed the manufacturing of the customized internal board. This board interacts with customizable software to create a region-specific configuration. So while the hardware is fixed, it can be adapted to different regions using a Software Defined Radio Solution.
All hardware components, including EmbedTek’s new board, are covered by our quality management and change management system. Thereby the customer benefits from a stable supply chain and warranty costs are held to a minimum. The region-specific software image is available to field repair and systems can even be moved to a different region by changing the image. Future driver upgrades, if necessary, might also be handled digitally. This means system updates in response to region changes will be downloadable. EmbedTek will continue to manage the supply chain and tuner maintenance for at least seven years.

Result
The customer is now able to easily grown their business in the global marketplace. EmbedTek is now incorporating this solution in the latest generation of integrated displays for major OEM manufacturers of fitness equipment. EmbedTek used advanced hardware design and software development to develop a reliable, robust solution to regional standards.