RALEIGH–Earlier this summer, people around the world watched as rescuers worked feverishly to save the young boys of a soccer team and their coach trapped in a flooded Thailand cave. They all eventually made it out safely, supported by an Analog Devices (ADI) team based in Raleigh that developed the software-defined-radio technology recurs used to communicate in the cave.

Establishing a reliable communications network were necessary, but the cave walls and water levels hindered the transmission of radio signals. Maxtech Network’s MaxMesh radios, enabled by an agile transceiver made by ADI, allowed rescuers to establish a communications relay network.

The company’s AD9364 product is part of its software defined radio (SDR) technology portfolio. A software defined radio platform ebables a radio frequency that can be configured in a variety of modes of operation and improves performance. SDR \in situations like the cave rescue.

“ADI is engaged in designing, making and marketing solutions that bridge the physical world to the digital a world,” said Nitin Sharma, general manager of ADI’s Communications business unit.

In the rescue effort, said Tony Montalvo, an ADI felloow and NCSU grad and former adjunct professor there who led development of the SDR technology, “It was a big communications challenge. There was 2.5 miles of rock and water. Normally, rescue folks carry handheld radios, but there was no way to connect one to another over that 2.5 miles,”

They form a mesh network

Maxtech, the company’s Israeli customer, built radios to take advantage of the SDR technology. In the cave, “Instead of talking from one to another or to a base,” Montalvo said, “they form a mesh network. Radios throughout the cave jump from one to another, allowing them to operate optimally during the operation.”

Nitin Sharma, general manager of the ADI communications business. ADI photo.

The devices, Sharma explains, receive signals and process them for further digital processing.. “These products go into many market segments,” he said. “Aerospace, automotive, consumer, energy, healthcare, industrial and communications. Not a day passes when you are not impacted by a technology we developed bt ADI.”

Specific uses include radar, avionics, high performance audio, imaging (MRI, CAT scans), vital signs monitoring and communications. “We’re the force behind developing the infrastructure for 4G and 5G cell phone technologies.

“We’re in a lot of weird apps,” added Montalvo. “Our tech is in space, circling the Earth. It’s in cellular base stations and camera drones.

They’re currently focused on the next generation cellular 5G network. “The kinds of things we develop apply to where things are going with traffic growing exponentially. The whole cellular network needs to be redesigned.”

In Raleigh, they focus on developing wireless radio frequency devices, from transceivers to integrated circuits with transceivers, and receivers on chips that can receive wireless signals.

The 55-year- semicodntuct company is headquartered in Norwood, Massachusetts, ADI is a $5.4 billion company with 15,000 employees. Its Raleigh offices are on the North Carolina University Centennial campus.