Embedded devices won't succeed without adequate testing

All the major wireless carriers are banking on embedded devices as the next big growth market. The vision-- which we have written about in the past --is to outfit all types of consumer electronics devices, automobiles, appliances and specialized machines with wireless connectivity. For the operator, this means huge growth in network data usage.

But the manufacturers of these devices and appliances are not necessarily well versed in wireless technology and may not have the expertise to embed wireless in their products. I think that will be critical to the success of this new business strategy. What good is it to have embedded wireless if it doesn't perform up to par?

Last week, I learned how important wireless testing is to the performance of the embedded device when I toured Panasonic's Kobe, Japan, factory. This is where the company manufactures and conducts its wireless testing for its Toughbook laptops. Check out my photos of the company's anechoic chamber where Panasonic tests its laptops' radio frequency performance.

According to Kyp Walls, Panasonic Computer Solutions' director of product management, the company tests every laptop with integrated wireless to make sure it performs appropriately before it is sent to the consumer or enterprise buyer. Walls said that because Panasonic is so diligent in its testing, its laptops tend to perform better and have less interference. This is particularly beneficial to the operator, since consumers tend to blame poor wireless performance on the carrier and not the laptop. "We tend to get certified more quickly from the carriers because of this testing," Walls said.

I don't expect every future embedded wireless device maker to build their own anechoic chamber for testing, but I do think that there are lessons to be learned from Panasonic's strategy. The extra inroads in embedded wireless testing will likely pay off in the form of happier consumers and more wireless data usage. Click here to see a photo tour of Panasonic's factory... -- Sue

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