Locking into something new: Revamped Cambridge Industries makes its debut at Olympia

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The Independent Online
CAMBRIDGE COMPUTER, the engineering design company founded by Sir Clive Sinclair, is relaunching itself today with a new name and a new range of products aimed at the satellite television market.

The receiver being launched this morning by Cambridge Industries at the Cable and Satellite show at London's Olympia will allow viewers to record satellite TV programmes on a timer. It also has a 'parental lock' feature. The state-of-the-art receiver will sell for about pounds 250, comparable with existing brand name equivalents.

It is the latest stage in a turnaround that started a year ago, when Ian Radley joined as managing director from Hitachi, with the task of bringing the business back from losses running into millions of pounds. In the 12 months to last June the company broke even for the first time and this year expects to make a small profit. Mr Radley attributes this to focusing on developing products that have a readily identifiable market.

The secret behind the new receiver being launched this morning is Application Specific Integrated Circuit (Asic) technology that Cambridge Industries is using for the first time in satellite equipment. This enables a 20,000-component circuit board to be replaced by a single chip, designed in collaboration with SGS- Thomson. The company's 30 engineers are working on applying the same technology to such areas as home security, navigation and remote metering of water, gas and electricity.

Cambridge hopes to have a product available by autumn next year that will enable homes to be centrally locked in the same way as a car. Another would link a vehicle's on-board navigation equipment and portable phone to provide breakdown services with instant details of its location.

'These are applications that will provide a stream of products for the next five years that is outside satellite television but utilises the experience we've got,' Mr Radley said.

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