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SAT introduces antenna design for all mobile bands

07 Mar 2014  | Julien Happich

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Smart Antenna Technologies claims to have paved a way for mobile devices to function in multiple bands with its latest antenna design, reducing manufacturing cost significantly.

The company is promoting a complex-shaped antenna design which can have up to 12 poles, something that could be printed as copper traces on a PCB or on the case of a mobile device, which could transmit and receive simultaneously DVB-H, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GSM, GPS, 3G multi-bands and 3.9/4G LTE signals.

Until now, mobile devices have to integrate up to six distinct antennas to work across various frequencies. Combined together, these can cost up to $20 per mobile device, a significant part of the total bill of material.

In contrast, SAT claims to be able to replace all these antennas with one single design costing less than a dollar while reducing footprint dramatically. The unusually shaped antenna does not detune like others, claims the company, while covering the 450MHz to 6GHz communication range.

"The cleverness about it is how the shape is configured depending on customers' requirements, and how we can configure and tune the antenna thanks to a dedicated companion chip," explained Professor Rick Hillum, CEO and co-founder of SAT in an interview with EE Times Europe.

The findings stem from pure academia initially geared towards military applications. About two years ago, researchers from the University of Birmingham aimed for commercial applications and a 6-pole antenna was then demonstrated to work with prototype tuning circuitry by recently spun out company SAT.

Showing an actual implementation of the printed antenna would give too much away, according to Hillum who hopes to be licensing the IP to mobile chip vendors.

Another big claim is that the performance of this adaptable antenna will match that of the separate antennae at their specified frequencies, thanks to a software re-configurable control chip that will accommodate for the preferred shape of the antenna implemented.

"We talked to all the major mobile and tablet manufacturers so that their requirements drive our own specifications," said Hillum.

The company expects to convert these engagements into 'design wins' for inclusion in future products over the next 12 months.

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