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IECISA operates in many countries in South America and the
The idea for another new company struck Beatriz Ortiz and
her husband Carlos Herreros upon the birth of their first child,
Eva, twelve years ago. "My husband saw how they placed the
identification tag on her ankle before taking her off to care for
her fever, and he thought how easy it would be to change the
tag," says Ortiz.
The company, Neonatal Custody and Identification (Identifi-
cación y Custodia Neonatal, or ICN) has created the first com-
puterized neonatal identification system, a codifier with physical
pieces that contain a unique identifying number for each new birth.
ICN has also developed a second layer of security to prevent
baby thefts in response to customer requests from the United
Arab Emirates and Dubai. All its ID now come fitted with radio
frequency identification (RFID) tags. A baby removed from the
hospital will cause an alarm to sound.
Yet a third level of security involves a method for record-
ing neonatal fingerprints that ICN was the first in the world to
develop. (The usual ink fingerprints are not detailed enough to
use for newborns). In the delivery room, the attendant opens a
computer file, reads the mother's codifier, and takes a photo of
the mother's fingerprint. The baby's codifier is entered, and if
it matches the mom's, a special camera opens to take photos of
the baby's middle and index fingertips. The file is automatically
closed and sent wirelessly to a control system.
Ortiz says it's a challenge to keep up with the demands of a
new and rapidly growing company, but "it's more than a business
for us. We're pushed by the thought that we're doing something
necessary and important, which gives us a lot of joy."
TRANSMITTING THE SIGNAL
Spanish companies have taken advantage of the country's geogra-
phy to devise solutions to digital television broadcasting challenges.
In 1999, Spain became the first country to use a single-frequency
network for digital television.
Due to the challenges of Spanish geography, with its many
towns hidden in valleys between mountains, small transmitters
with low power were needed. Though most major companies
didn't bother to fill this niche, the Galician company Egatel
devised low power transmitters. And so when in 1999 the national
broadcaster requested bids for companies to provide transmit-
ters for the upcoming digital television network, Egatel won 66
percent of the country's market share. They began to manufac-
ture high-power transmitters as well, eventually winning the bid
to provide transmitters for 90 percent of the digital coverage.
But with antennas transmitting on the same frequency, "you
have a feedback from the transmitting antenna... So we devel-
oped software that cancels echoes, all the noise that you have
when you transmit the signal from a receiving antenna to a new
transmitter antenna," says Javier Taibo, international sales man-
ager for Egatel. Today, many countries now use single-frequency
networks, and Egatel sells its products worldwide.
Digital television products have proven to be a major success
for the Spanish company Ikusi, located in San Sebastian. (Ikusi
means vision in the Basque language). Founded half a century
ago in a garage by Angel Iglesias, who still heads the company,
Ikusi grew in its first few decades from a television installation
company to a major manufacturer of reception and distribu-
tion equipment. Its research and development laboratory was
founded in 1964, and "innovation has always been key," says
Marco Domínguez, Ikusi's director of technology.
The company expanded from television communications into
other sectors more than 30 years ago, and today it is an impor-
tant player in the integration of networks and electronic systems
for markets such as banking, airports, railway, road infrastruc-
tures, and security centers. A current research project named iToll
involves the development of an intelligent toll system without
physical barriers, which combines computer vision and electronic
payment and---in the future---will integrate satellite vehicle-posi-
tioning systems. iToll will allow for the free flow of vehicles,
which will no longer need to slow down for toll collection.
The potential for significant growth in mobile television has
inspired additional research in that field. The company Sidsa,
which designed and sells chips that allow what's known as "con-
ditional access" in the boxes for cable or digital television, is
Premo has taken the idea of communication down to the nanoscale.The company has had success in designing products for
the television, power, and communications sector.Their most innovative line for the future, according to marketing director
Rocío Arrupe, focuses on radio frequency identification (RFID). Premo has designed tiny RFID antennas that, to take one
example, measure a car's tire pressure and alert its monitoring system; Premo has captured 50 percent of this market. "Then
we thought, we should make this smaller and cheaper --- but instead of fighting to have smaller and more capable chips, let's
just see if we can do it without electronics," says Arrupe. "As humans, we identify each other [but] not by a label, so let's iden-
tify particles or molecules that we can attach to an object that we want to identify."
Working with a university in Barcelona, the company has generated molecules, each with a distinct identity, to serve as
markers for identity tags.Two products based on this technology are going to be in the market this year, one for an Ameri-
can automobile company to make its engines more efficient, and another for hospitals to tag surgical equipment.
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