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Xylobands Article About Silicon Labs


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A new article in the Austin American-Statesman:


Chips from Austin's Silicon Labs take the rock 'n' roll road


My photo is actually used in the article (with permission, via Silicon Labs - they found me from one of my articles LINK)...


The Xylobands in the photo are actually on top of my flightcase for Blacky. ;)




Chips from Austin's Silicon Labs take the rock 'n' roll road




Chip companies turn out smart components that go into all sorts of products, but every once in a while, a savvy customer comes up with a new application that embodies coolness.


That's why Austin's Silicon Laboratories Inc. is smiling about its work with a small British company, RB Concepts Ltd., that invented flashing wristbands called Xylobands, which have been used extensively at recent concerts by the rock music group Coldplay.


The plastic wristbands have flashing LED lights that are controlled by Silicon Labs' low-power radio receiver and controller chips. And thousands of wristbands in an arena are controlled by a laptop computer linked to a Silicon Labs radio transmitter.


The Xylobands are the patented creation of inventor Jason Regler, co-owner of RB Concepts, who just happens to be a Coldplay fan. Coldplay liked Regler's invention and has used it to light up arenas and stadiums all over the world.


Coldplay used an early version of the Xylobands at several events late in 2011. Then Regler's company approached Silicon Labs early this year to help it come up with an improved version to comply with various international wireless standards for North America and Europe so the band could use them in this year's world tour.


It offered the chip company a 1 million unit product order. The Silicon Labs team also enabled new capabilities for the wristbands, so they could be synchronized with the band's music. The Austin company had technical workers in the United Kingdom, Hungary and Austin working on designs for the radio transmitter and on internal software code.


The band kicked off the North American leg of the tour April 17.


"I have been in this business for 18 years, and this is the coolest project I have ever had to work on," said Keith Odland, microcontroller marketing director for Silicon Labs. "I have never been this close to rock 'n' roll."


"Taking the LED wristband from concept to finished product required best-in-class embedded control and wireless technology," Regler said. "Silicon Labs was the ideal choice for wireless technology, enabling us to achieve ... certification and deliver more than 30,000 Xylobands just in time for a recent Coldplay concert."


Phil Harvey, Coldplay's creative director, credited Regler's company and Silicon Labs with excellent work in enabling the delivery of "hundreds of thousands of (wristbands) whenever and wherever we've needed them."


The wristbands, Harvey said, "have broken down the invisible wall between band and audience and put the audience right at the heart of the show. The mass feeling of joy and wonder when they all light up at the top of the show is hard to put into words."

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