Many of us techies are constantly on the look out for mobile technology that’s better, faster, slicker and cheaper. So what if we could tick all those boxes in one fell swoop?
From their headquarters at the University of Bath Innovation Centre, Smart Antenna Technologies (SAT) are developing a single piece of antenna technology that aims to revolutionise the hidden workings inside your smartphones.
It’s these hidden antennas that allow us to use the technology we love the most by allowing us to connect to 3G, 4G, Bluetooth , Wi-Fi, GPS and more. Currently, our smart phones typically have up to 6 physical antennas inside them, which allow us to wirelessly connect to and utilise each of these day-to-day features. The cost of 6 antennas is an expense that can account for up to 20% of the manufacturing cost of the average smartphone, as well as taking up valuable space and battery power.
“The highly compact SAT antenna technology replaces all existing antennas with just one. It is significantly lower in cost, smaller in size and offers much needed performance gains over existing designs and technology”
We were excited to find out what Smart Antenna technology could mean for mobile devices in the future, so we caught up with CEO and Founder of Smart Antenna, Dr Sampson Hu (pictured on the left), who told us:
“The highly compact SAT antenna technology replaces all existing antennas with just one. It is significantly lower in cost, smaller in size and offers much needed performance gains over existing designs and technology.”
“The antenna cost in a cellular hand portable device is typically up to $14 per handset. The SAT technology is expected to have a total manufacturing cost of around $4, a saving of up to $10 per unit, equating to an annual saving of $29.6 billion for the global handset/portable device manufacturers.”
New generation 4g
One of their newest developments to this single SAT antenna is its capability to handle the newest developments in 4G, known as carrier aggregation, which is not even predicted to be set as standard in mobile technology until 2016.
It’s clear to see why, with innovation well ahead of the game, SAT has won several awards and grants, including a £329,000 grant from the West of England Growth Fund as well as being one of the 5 companies to win at the final of last year’s Cambridge Wireless Discovering Startups competition.
They were also featured in BBC News in March:
SAT have only been based in Bath since earlier this year so we were keen to know what they thought the advantages were. Sampson told us:
“Bath has a very advantageous location and reputable universities and is close to Bristol. Both cities are an economic powerhouse of the South West of England, where financial services, aerospace engineering, environmental technology and large scale industrial distribution businesses have started and developed, providing the infrastructure to meet SAT’s business goals.”
A lifetime of research
“The current technology is from the whole lifetime of research from Professor Peter Hall and Dr Peter Gardner and most recently from my PhD. The reason I choose to do my PhD with Smart Antenna is because of Professor Hall’s reputation in the mobile antenna sector. He’s the inventor of current standard mobile antenna solution, as well as early mobile antennas used in the 1990s.
“The current technology is from the whole life time of research… it’s the challenges of this research that attracted me from the beginning.”
“The single antenna is a concept and still under development as there is no product yet”, Samson explained. “However, we already have a number of demonstrators to prove the concept and the company is in a commercial discussion with a leading manufacturer.”
It’s expected that the new antenna will be used in this leading manufacturer’s new product in early 2016. In the meantime, Smart Antenna are recruiting for engineers in both their Bath and Birmingham offices, to help them reach their goals.
Stay up to date with Smart Antenna’s progress by following them on twitter at @SmartAntennaTech
Featured image credit: Johan Larsson