3U CompactPCI boards key for always on passenger infotainment

Flat screens are used everywhere to display information. Because they are flat and light, they are now also used in mobile public transport vehicles such as subways, trams, commuter trains, and buses for public transportation. A common configuration combines two screens side by side. The left hand screen shows route information, such as upcoming stops. It also displays information about transfer possibilities to other transportation systems. The right hand screen displays a news ticker, local advertising, and similar information, such as a scene from a local movie theater. Some installations use single screen versions.

Visual information about the next stop is superior to audible announcements, which may be hard to hear at high noise levels. Audible announcements are also a problem for foreign visitors, especially in Europe with its many small countries with different languages. Passengers may not understand the local language.

Inova Computers (Germany) has supplied these systems for a long time to many worldwide public transportation vendors and authorities. Some examples include the Airport Express trains in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, London Heathrow, and Vienna. Inova estimates that about three million travelers a day benefit from their installations in mainland Europe. Engineers at Inova Multimedia (Germany) pioneered the use of always on Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB), which is based on Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB). Inova Computers has integrated GSM, GPS, GPRS, and UMTS/3G into a 3U CompactPCI board for 24x7 operation (Figure 1). The small 3U CompactPCI boards are ruggedized to withstand vibration, shock conditions, and temperature extremes.

Figure 1


Commuter trains in places such as Athens, Berlin, and Hannover are also equipped with Multimedia Information Systems (MIS) supplied by Inova Computers. Inside the trains, they use the GigaSTaR serial digital transmission system. Inova Semiconductors (Germany) developed the GigaSTaR technology and chipsets. Recently NBC Universal gave Inova an order for a passenger infotainment system for Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH), the train service operating the railway link between New York City and New Jersey. Within the next three years, Inova Computers will supply equipment for 340 new trains, including 1,360 double video screens, stationary video terminals in 12 railway stations, wireless LAN equipment in 5 railway stations, and a studio interface. A service contract between NBC Universal and Inova Computers covers a period of 10 years after first installations.


MEN Micro Elektronik GmbH (Germany) has supplied a control system in a highly compact 3U subrack, which is only 220 mm deep. The enclosure is 32 HP wide (representing eight CompactPCI slots). Six slots are available for CompactPCI cards. The remaining two slots are equipped with a pluggable power supply providing more than 100 W. A Pentium III processor running at 880 MHz under Windows NT Embedded powers the CPU card. An onboard hard disk is integrated into the system, which is used in a safety-critical environment onboard a submarine. Flexible I/O is provided by M-Module (ANSI/VITA 12) mezzanine cards on CompactPCI carrier boards. The M-Module M45 provides eight intelligent full-duplex RS-232 interfaces, which work in asynchronous mode. The M66 M-Module features an extremely high output current of 1.9 A per channel out of 16 A switching power. The 32 optically isolated binary process signals can be configured individually for input or output.


European trade fair in Asia

The Deutsche Messe AG, organizer of CeBIT and the Industrial Fair in Hannover (Germany), has organized a combination of four trade fairs at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre. The fair sections were Factory Automation Asia, Interkama Asia, Energy Asia, and Metal Working Asia. Exhibitors included Rittal, KUKA Robots, and Phoenix Contact. There were 704 exhibiting companies showing their products over five days to approximately 40,000 visitors from 26 countries. Many countries grouped exhibitors into country pavilions. These included Germany, Spain, Switzerland, United States, Japan, and Taiwan.