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looking to the potentially astronomical growth of mobile tele-
vision. Engineers developed a bidirectional chip for television
reception that both receives signals and returns them, useful for
mobile handsets that receive a television signal and return the
signal of their location.
And Sapec has capitalized on its audio processing experience
to develop a range of products for audio and video compression
that allow for accurate transmission while preser ving bandwidth.
"We're now working on new algorithms for better compression
that will be useful for receiving television on your mobile phone,"
says Miguel Cristóbal, Sapec's managing director.
Televes, one of the largest Spanish manufacturers of antennas,
amplifiers, receivers, and satellite dishes, has the biggest market
share in Spain for in-home receivers and digital signal proces-
sors and sells its products in more than 50 countries around the
world. In 2002 Televes created a system of transmitting signals
through a house utilizing coaxial cable, the copper antenna cable
used by TV companies. This system allows the company to use
the cable for multiple ser vices in a home or building to optimize
telecommunications, integrating remote control, video sur veil-
lance, and data networks.
WIRING THE CONNECTION
Managing the explosive growth of the Internet and the demands
this growth puts on traditional modes of communication inter-
ested the founders of DS2. Telephone lines provide one means
of transmitting high-speed Internet. DS2 engineers thought: Why
not use power lines?
"Telephones are technically easier," says Chano Gómez, vice
president of technology. "They were installed for communications
and are well maintained by the telephone company. Electrical wires,
whose purpose is to transmit energy, are more challenging." But
many applications could transmit infor mation throughout a home
or building using existing electrical wiring. "There are many appli-
ances that connect to the electrical wires and generate noise, which
makes it a greater challenge," Gómez continues. This technology,
though, is potentially useful when computers demand high-speed
hookups around a house --- for downloading large files, watching
television, or backing up data --- and wireless routers don't offer
enough speed or reliability.
DS2 developed a transmission system that utilizes different
frequencies than electricity does. The company's chips use digital
signal processing to recover the original signal, cancelling out all
the noise on the line. A home's electric meter then blocks the
Internet signal from being transmitted outside the house. Tele-
fónica in Spain, major telecommunications companies in the UK
and Portugal, and retail brands in the US that sell home network-
ing solutions offer DS2's link as part of their solution.
DS2 sees yet more significant opportunities ahead as smart
grids are developed. Utilities will need to receive real-time infor-
mation on home electricity use. "Instead of having to go to
homes every month to read a meter, this can be done remotely
using electrical wires, with one of our chips in the electric meter,"
The basic ideas of how computers can create graphics inspired
Ricardo Montesa, CEO of Brainstor m. In the mid 1980s, when
he was a student, computers could only generate text, not even a
straight line. Then he saw a computer that could render a graphic,
a black background with green lines. Soon after that, a visitor to
the university gave a demonstration of the very earliest versions
of computer graphics. "I fell in love with the technology," says
Today, Brainstor m, born from Montesa's early efforts, creates
graphics-building software that is key to European and American
televised election coverage, rapidly integrating all new data and
transfor ming it into visuals.
As the votes for Obama and McCain were counted at the close
of the 2008 American presidential elections, audiences turned
rapt attention to the red-and-blue tallies of votes and percent-
ages that inched higher as the night wore on. Brainstor m created
the graphics for NBC and has also created all the BBC's election
graphics; the NASDAQ graphics displayed in Times Square; and
all the virtual graphics for ESPN. ILM, a George Lucas com-
pany, bought the company's virtual set software for the movie
Artificial Intelligence, and the software has since been used in other
movies including I Robot and X-Men Origins. Today, Brainstor m
is participating in European projects to develop games that will
help marginalized youth and the elderly.
Victor González, one of the founders of Next Limit Tech-
nologies, describes creating his company with Ignacio Vargas
when the two were students. They both enjoyed computer graph-
ics and animation, and both were programmers. González and
Vargas also noticed that a relatively easy and realistic rendering
of fluid, as when waves crash, was missing from animation. "We
thought there was a gap that we could fill in fluid simulation, that
we could create those effects within a computer," says González.
The two men started applying what they were learning in
engineering, designing computer graphics that can realistically
mimic fluid dynamics on a computer, television or film screen.
The partners developed a prototype of the software. Then they
showed up with it at a visual effects conference in Orlando, "and
people were excited about what we were doing," he says.
Next Limit Technology's software has assisted production
companies for top-name movies such as Lord of the Rings, X-Men,
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and, most recently, The Curious Case
of Benjamin Button. In 2008, Hollywood's Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences honored Next Limit with a technical
Now the designers at Next Limit are bringing their technol-
ogy back to engineers. They've created a program called XFlow,
a fluid simulation software that is scientifically much more accu-
rate than the one designed for Hollywood. "Our targets are the
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