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Scaling New Heights(HKTDC Electronic Components & Parts, Vol 01,2009)

 

Hong Kong Electronic Components & Parts

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Today's electronic gadgets demand increasingly sophisticated components and parts - a demand that Hong Kong is making tremendous efforts to fill

Hong Kong's electronic components and parts industry is climbing the value chain as companies increasingly invest in R&D and cooperate with research institutes to develop state-of-the-art products for global markets.

These developments take place amid growing competition in the low-value segment and rising demand for better-performing electronic gadgets, and are backed by the local industry's strengths.

"Many companies are now producing precision and high-value products as the industry is going up the value ladder," says Dr Lui Sun Wing, Vice President at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

A similar observation is made by Edwin Pun, Chair Professor of the Department of Electronic Engineering at City University of Hong Kong. "Local manufacturers have been more active in R&D in recent years, for example, in the wireless telecommunications and microwave electronic components and products sectors," he says.

Both universities report increased R&D cooperation with local companies and technology transfer to the electronic components and parts industry over the past couple of years. "It's a good thing because universities can both provide expertise and a cost-effective way for companies to acquire advanced technology," remarks Professor Pun.

Ample advantages

The transformation is supported by the sector's strengths and advantages, including its easy access to the huge pool of resources on the Chinese mainland.

At present, many Hong Kong electronic components and parts manufacturers run factories on the mainland to capitalise on the lower costs of production and great supply of land and manpower.

Professor Paul Cheung, Director of Technology Transfer Office at the University of Hong Kong, urges the local electronic components and parts industry to fully integrate with the Pearl River Delta (PRD).

"The benefits of integration would be enormous," he says. "Most of the world's consumer electronic products are now produced in southern China, where the electronic components and parts industry is also doing well - Shenzhen, for example, is strong in terms of both talent and product variety."

Professor Cheung suggests that local industrialists should tap the region's vast resources. "It is impossible for Hong Kong to become a big manufacturing base on its own - there is simply not enough land or people," he says.

"That's why, when mapping out its direction and strategy, the local industry must at least see itself as part of the PRD - if not the entire Guangdong Province."

Solid strengths

Professor Cheung, however, also highlights Hong Kong's strengths. "The local industry is keenly aware of international trends and market directions," he says, adding that Hong Kong is also good at project management and business administration.

In addition, he maintains that Hong Kong has the best universities in southern China, which are up to world standards in terms of R&D achievements. "Therefore, we must compete on innovation and technological advancement," asserts Professor Cheung.

He believes Hong Kong may specialise in technology development, pointing to the competence of local firms in identifying market needs and finding the right talents to create solutions to electronic components problems.

This sentiment is shared by industry leaders such as Roy Chung, Chairman of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council's (HKTDC) Electronics/Electrical Appliances Industries Advisory Committee (EEAIAC).

"Hong Kong's electronic components and parts industry is backed by the mainland and facing the world," says Mr Chung. "We can join hands with the mainland to conduct R&D and use it as a base to produce and sell while also selling to other parts of the world."

With such solid strengths and advantages, Hong Kong's electronic components and parts industry looks set to scale new heights in product development in the years to come.

Astounding achievements

Hong Kong's electronic components and parts research focuses on design of high-end products, including:

  • sophisticated ICs and ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) chips
  • sensors and transducers
  • optical components

Numerous innovative electronic components and parts prototypes and products have been recently developed by local companies and universities, and seven examples are highlighted below.

Polymer Bonded Magnetic Device (Prototype)

Developer: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

The device produces magnetic cores in any shape and size.

Applications include power converters, power supplies and EMI screening.

For details, please visit:
www.pdo.polyu.edu.hk/tech_photos/projects/Area1/Polymer%20Bonded%20Magnetic%20Device.pdf

Self-Sustainable Magnetoelectric Smart Sensor (Prototype)

Developer: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Made from proprietary magnetoelectric composite materials, this is a high-performance sensor for real-time, non-contact measure-ment of magnetic fields, electrical currents and rotational speeds.

Applications include:

  • magnetic field sensing in manufacturing equipment and machines, electric motors, electric generators and tagging
  • electrical current sensing in high-tension power transmission lines, power stations, domestic mains, overhead railway power lines, automobiles, shipboards, smart buildings, optical power metering
  • rotational speed sensing in magnetic wheels and gears
  • turnable magnetoelectric transducers, resonators, filters and switches

For details, please visit:
www.pdo.polyu.edu.hk/tech_photos/projects/Area3/Self-Sustainable%20Magnetoelectric%20Smart%20Sensors.pdf

Versatile Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation Sensor and Detector (Prototype)

Developer: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

The new technology of growing GaN film using a molecular beam epitaxy system is utilised to create sensitive UV radiation sensors and detectors. A Schottky structure, with a semi-transparent metallic layer, is fabricated on top of a GaN film as the key active structure for the detection of UV radiation. When UV radiation incidents onto the structure, a photo current will be induced in the device and amplified by an external circuit.

Applications:

  • determination of UV index for monitoring UV radiation exposure
  • monitoring of UV light intensity for applications in UV disinfection systems
  • UV detectors in consumer products such as weather stations and watches
  • UV detection in cosmetics products

For details, please visit:
www.pdo.polyu.edu.hk/tech_photos/projects/Area1/Versatile%20Ultraviolet%20(UV)%20Radiation%20Sensor%20and%20Detector.pdf

Erbium-Doped Glass Waveguide Amplifier (Prototype)

Developer: City University of Hong Kong

The Erbium-Doped Glass Waveguide Amplifier claims to be the first prototype of its kind in China. Different from conventional amplifiers, which are essentially loops around the cable, this device is a small rectangular plane on which other components/modules can be fitted.

Applications include telecoms equipment and systems.

For details, please visit:
www6.cityu.edu.hk/tto/AppliedResearch.aspx?id=64

Power Amplifier (Prototype) for Mobile Phones and Consumer Electronic Appliances

Developer: City University of Hong Kong

This power amplifier provides higher efficiency and better output quality by being more linear (i.e. generating a smaller amount of unwanted signals) than conventional devices.

Applications include mobile phones/terminals and consumer electronic appliances.

For details, please visit:
www6.cityu.edu.hk/tto/AppliedResearch.aspx?id=86

Versatile High-Frequency RFID System (Prototype)

Developer: City University of Hong Kong

This 900MHz system comprising RFID tags and readers can perform a wide range of functions, including trace-and-track, location of lost items, real-time inventory checks and access control.

Applications include retail and library services.

For details, please visit:
www6.cityu.edu.hk/tto/AppliedResearch.aspx?id=90

Multimedia Processor (MagusCore?SSD1933)

Developer: Solomon Systech Ltd

The first Hong Kong-developed multimedia processor of its kind, the unit packs an ARM926EJ-STM core and an AV-DSP core on a single chip and can be used in virtually any mobile consumer device.

The dual-core distributed architecture is optimised to deliver superior performance in multimedia acceleration compared with the traditional single CPU approach.

The AV-DSP core offloads the ARM core from computation-intensive multimedia processing to extend battery life and free the CPU for general purpose applications and OS support.

Thanks to the high-performance AV-DSP core, the unit is capable of decoding video in MPEG-2 standard up to D1 (720x576) resolution at 30fps.

Combined with the MPEG-2 Transport Stream Interface (TSI), the processor offers the ideal solution for multi-standard mobile digital TV, which is becoming increasingly popular.

The multimedia processor also supports a wide range of video formats including H.264, MPEG-4, WMV/VC-1, RMVB and H.263 up to D1 resolution.

A broad array of peripheral connectivity, including SD/SDIO/MMC, USB 2.0 OTG, MLC NAND Flash and mobile DDR SDRAM, ensures the SSD1933 is highly flexible to meet any design constraints.

In addition to a camera interface and 24-bit LCD interface, the SSD1933 integrates a 10-bit NTSC/PAL encoder for high-quality video and photo capture and playback.

Applications include power-sensitive mobile consumer devices such as mobile digital TVs, portable media players, personal navigation devices, smart mobile phones and mobile internet devices.

For details, please visit:

www.solomon-systech.com/news/press230708e.htm

www.solomon-systech.com/zh-hk/news/press230708c.htm