Cognitive radios

The development of software radio technologies for the Canadian Marconi Corporation (CMC), now Ultra-Electronics TCS, is unquestionably one of the most significant accomplishments of the Gagnon-Kouki-Thibeault team. When CMC decided to submit a tender for a contract with the U.S. Army in 1997, it enlisted LACIME’s multidisciplinary expertise: the digital processing of signals related to advanced communication techniques, informatics, microelectronics, and radio devices and propagation.

Adaptive Bar Code Generation on Mobile Devices

Since the advent of cell phones in the 1990s, they have constantly been improved with new functions for users, such as SMS, MMS, Internet access and more recently multimedia content. However, the SMS (Short Message Service) revolution has still not revealed its full technological potential in our daily lives. LIPSO, a Montréal-based company specialised in sending business SMS, has fully seized the technological opportunities resulting from the complementary relationship between SMS and Internet access. In fact, the WAP Push method makes it possible to receive an SMS containing an Internet link to download data in the form of images, text or applications.

WAP Push message sending is already being used in various areas and has especially triggered the innovation of bar codes on cell phones. The new wave of m-commerce (mobile commerce) offers very promising prospects such as Speedy and paperless transactions, important and quality information, and time gain. These new generation bar codes can be used in the transport industry (aviation, rail), ticketing and for sending discount coupons.

Widely used in the arts (Star Académie, Loft Story …), LIPSO technology is currently adapting to various constraints in preparation for a very promising commercial application. To this end, LIPSO has entrusted François Gagnon’s team with the task of making this new technology accessible to everyone. 

Unfortunately, not all cell phones are bar code reception compatible due to a very vast array of models available on the market, scanning equipment and outdoor environments. The research team is working to find an effective solution to these constraints and make reading more reliable when an SMS is received.

2008 Synergy Award

Professor François Gagnon of the Department of Electrical Engineering at ÉTS and holder of the Ultra Electronics (TCS) Research Chair in Wireless Communications received the prestigious Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Synergy Award at a ceremony held in Halifax. ÉTS and Ultra Electronics TCS were joint winners of a Synergy Award for their exceptional collaboration. The purpose of NSERC Synergy Awards for Innovation is to recognise R&D partnerships between universities and industry. These $200,000 awards highlight the most remarkable achievements resulting from university-industry collaboration. For 12 years now, partnering with ÉTS researchers has helped Ultra consolidate its undisputed position as leader in the military tactical radio market and technology.

Extreme precision analog-to-digital converters for the International Space Station’s microgravity module, with the Canadian Space Agency.

The system was designed for the next generation micro-gravity test system. Very precise accelerometer signal sampling is indispensable to controlling the electromagnets that generate the module’s magnetic cushion. The previous module had a 100 dB dynamic range and we designed a system covering 140 dB. This result was confirmed by measurements of the completed system. The conversion strategy gives the equivalent of 23 precision bits, which is the equivalent of the anticipated 140 dB. A patent has been filed. Professors Jean Belzile, François Gagnon, Naïm Batani, Ammar B. Kouki, René Jr. Landry and Claude Thibeault participated in the research.

Canadian Space Agency Astronaut Bob Thirsk commissions MVIS in the Fluid Science Laboratory, located in the
Columbus Laboratory
Module of the International Space Station in July 2009.
(Photo: NASA)

Creation of ISR-Technologies

Continuous innovation in software radio

History: In the early 2000s, LACIME had six professors with varied backgrounds, ranging from communication theory to microelectronic devices, who had decided to initiate a joint project: creating a software-configured radio. The initial objective was to design software capable of generating every possible modem combination with respect to format, bandwidth and encoded information type. Due to their hard work, the researchers were subsequently able to create the world’s first software-configured radio. Thus, together with Ultra Electronics TCS, they assumed international leadership in Canada in relation to this field.

Initially ingenious, the software radio project subsequently underwent continuous development as a result of the rapid growth of both essential scientific innovations in the field and microelectronic implementation platforms. From a business perspective, the original objective was definitely crucial to producing the second generation of software configurable radios.

To keep pace with innovation and stay at the forefront, it was necessary to find, for the latter, a suitable mechanism that facilitates a rapid and effective commercialisation of new discoveries while ensuring a close interaction between research and development. It was for this purpose that ISR Technologies, a company of remote modem configuration experts, was created in 2003.

Professor Naïm Batani, with over 10 years of corporate experience under his belt, became the full-time president of ISR Technologies. Both the company and his research colleagues benefit from his business acumen.
As regards the initial Gagnon-Kouki-Thibeault team, it has, since its creation, continued to provide guidance and advise to ISR professionals; some of these still meet on a weekly basis.

A series of software radio design methodology research projects sprang from these initial ideas. And it was especially in this way that Professors Yvon Savaria and Michel Gendreau of Polytechnique collaborated with Professors François Gagnon and Claude Thibeault to systematically and perfectly implement signal processing algorithms on FPGA and multi-processor platforms.

ISR: ISR Technologies is an SME specialised in developing and commercialising software-reconfigurable modems for wireless communications systems.