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Firecomms rolls out first in-car networks

The Irish company's resonant-cavity LED-based transceivers are now available in Kia SUVs, with more models due to follow later this year.

The first in-car entertainment systems to commercially exploit the advantages that Firecomms plastic optical fiber technology has over copper are now available in the Kia Mohave.

The sports utility vehicle has already been launched in South Korea and, from June onwards, will be sold under the name Borrego in the US.

Each vehicle will contain between one and five of Firecomms transceivers, which each use one of the firm s 630-685 nm resonant-cavity LEDs (RCLEDs).

“It s a massive milestone for Firecomms, and vindicates the use of RCLED technology in Media Oriented System Transport fiber optic transceivers,” said Hugh Hennessy, Firecomms vice-president of sales and marketing.

“This will contribute significant revenue to Firecomms in this financial year - it s high volume production.”

The deal comes through a chain of relationships, initially with Tyco Electronics, which supplies connectors for Hyundai Autonet, which in turn produces in-car “infotainment systems”. Kia, itself a member of the Hyundai group, completes the chain by putting the Hyundai Autonet systems into the Mohave.

Following this first deal, Firecomms says its products will be included in two additional vehicles "“ from unspecified manufacturers "“ in the final three months of 2008. The fabless Irish company also expects to continue its relationship with Hyundai, with inclusion in new vehicles over the coming years.

Firecomms devices are attractive to the likes of Hyundai because they can provide faster, better quality data transmission than copper.

“More and more consumer electronic devices are now being built into the car,” Hennessy pointed out. “One of the biggest challenges facing the car industry is the suppression of electromagnetic interference noise within all of these devices.”

“If you have signals running over an optical bus you do not enter into the problem of copper wires picking up noise from the car.”

“RCLEDs are also forming the backbone of the technology to be used in next-generation MOST networks, which will move from 50 Mbd, 25 Mbit/s to a 300 Mbd, 150 Mbit/s bus.”

• According to kiaworld.net, Kia expects to sell 18,000 Mohave SUVs in Korea this year, and export 30,000 units. From 2009 it expects 20,000 units for the local market and 60,000 units for exports. Its current cost in South Korea is between $35,000 and $47,000.

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