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Samsung, Agilent Make Mobile Watch/Phone

While often a staple of comic books and spy movies, the watch phone hasn't exactly leaped from the wrists of the storyboard to the mainstream marketplace, perhaps because every prototype introduced to the market thus far has been about as fun to wear as a tire iron.

Samsung wants to change that. The South Korean personal electronics and communications giant teamed up with Palo Alto, Calif.-based Agilent Technologies (NYSE: A) to implement Agilent's miniature film bulk acoustic resonator (FBAR) duplexer into a number of the company's handset platforms and wireless appliances, beginning with Samsung's soon-to-be-released Watch Phone. FBAR is an innovative filter technology that produces miniature duplexers, the devices that allow a transmitter and a receiver operating on different frequencies to share a common antenna. FBAR duplexers typically occupy less than 10% of the volume of a conventional ceramic duplexer, but with increased power handling capability, lower insertion loss and greater selectivity.

Announced today at the 2001 Wireless/Portable Symposium & Exhibition at the San Jose Convention Center, Samsung's wrist-wearable code division multiple access (CDMA) mobile phone is scheduled for released by the middle of this year. Using Agilent's duplexer, which occupies less than 20% of the volume of a conventional ceramic device, Samsung's engineers were able to make the phone exceedingly small, measuring only 3.5 by 2 inches, yet still include storage for 229 numbers, voice mail, caller ID, call forwarding and call waiting. It also supports voice-activated dialing, a speakerphone and short-text messaging.

"The FBAR technology enabled us to significantly reduce the size of the duplexer, which is usually one of the bulkiest components of a mobile phone." says Byung Duck Cho, VP of Samsung Electronics' Information and Communications Business's Wireless Terminal Division R&D team. "As further miniaturization shapes the future of consumer electronics, we will continue to work with Agilent to deliver next-generation communication products designed to fit people's changing lives."

The new FBAR-based duplexer is part of the Agilent "CDMAdvantage" chipset, which Agilent's Bryan Ingram says includes all active functions required for today's 800 MHz and 1900 MHz handsets.

"The Watch Phone is a groundbreaking mobile product," says Ingram, manager of Agilent's Semiconductor Products Group RF Business Unit. "This product demonstrates Samsung's leadership in developing innovative, miniature mobile products, and we are pleased that Samsung plans to continue to use the miniature FBAR as a critical component in multiple handset platforms and wireless applications going forward."