Cambridge Consultants has released a platform design which rewrites the economics of the emerging internet radio market. Based on two ICs, the Iona Wi-Fi portable radio can be built with an electronic bill-of-materials (eBOM) costing less than $15.

This incredibly small figure could lead to consumer products retailing for around $50 to $60 — which is under half of most of today's internet-ready 'kitchen radio' type products. Designed to operate without a PC, the Iona radio technology is as accessible and easy to use as today's portable FM radios.

"Our design ethos has focused on stripping the BOM to the absolute minimum, and optimizing power consumption," says Cambridge Consultants' head of consumer products, Duncan Smith. "As a result, we believe this platform could stimulate a new category of consumer electronics product, or act as a cost-effective add-on for established product lines such as DAB and satellite radios or MP3 players, or even a product associated with a brand such as a broadband service provider."

The design requires just two major ICs: an 802.11 b/g device targeted at the portable embedded systems market, and a multimedia applications chip combining DSP with a 16-bit RISC processor core from Cambridge Consultants' own XAP family.

The hardware is completely programmable and the design will implement a large set of protocols and CODEC formats. The platform is capable of supporting RTP, HTTP, RDT and MMS for instance, plus MP3, WMA, AAC, AIFF and WAV data formats, and SNTP clock functionality. The platform also supports WEP, WPA and WPA2 security. Further protocols can be added rapidly.

In addition to minimizing the eBOM, Cambridge Consultants' design focuses on reducing power consumption, allowing personal radio products to operate for up to 30 hours from two standard AA cells if the access point supports power saving mode, or in excess of 15 hours otherwise.

The total cost of components listed in the eBOM at high volumes is under $15, including a 112 × 64 black-and-white graphic LCD.