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OPLIN 4cast #431: Morphing antennas

Posted in 4cast

Wi-Fi routerEthertronics Inc. got some attention in the technology media about a month ago when they announced that they had developed a chip for wireless routers that changes the radiation pattern of the router’s antennas to fit the characteristics of a space. Ethertronics (and some other companies) have previously been doing work in the area of developing “reconfigurable” antennas for mobile phones and tablets, and at least one university is also doing research in this area, reportedly with military funding. Reconfigurable antennas in routers could improve wireless performance substantially and might alleviate the need for multiple wireless routers in some places.

  • Wi-Fi signals can now penetrate thick walls and cover long distances (Deccan Chronicle | Francis D’Sa)  “The chip enables Active Steering technique (signal steering) by monitoring the RF link performance and uses a closed group of predictive algorithms to select the best antenna radiation and pattern for superior performance. The technology works best with 802.11 ac devices and enables wireless signals to penetrate thick walls, ceilings and alike to reach further distances, where conventional routers cannot today.”
  • Active antennas could mean more powerful Wi-Fi networks (GigaOm | Kevin Fitchard)  “Ethertronics has designed the antenna technology that has gone into more than a billion mobile devices (if you own a Samsung Galaxy device chances are you’re talking and surfing through an Ethertronics rig), but its active steering technology hasn’t yet made it into a mobile device, though it is engaged in several trials with carriers. [Chief Scientist Jeff] Shamblin, however, thinks that that the technology stands a good shot in the Wi-Fi market as we increasingly hook more devices into home wireless networks from TVs and stereos, to wearables and smart home appliances.”
  • Ethertronics goes for WiFi (Electronics Weekly | David Manners)  “The technology allows three physical antenna to act as 12 virtual antenna. ‘We take one antenna and by changing the radiation pattern of the antenna we can generate multiple radiation patterns from a single antenna,’ [COO Vahid] Manian told EW.  Beam steering, by sampling and switching between the multiple radiation patterns, selects the antenna radiation pattern that provides the best RF link performance. This delivers, says the company, improvements in range, data throughput, interference reduction, robustness in multipath environments, and connection reliability.”
  • Wi-Fi beam-steering tech could kill off fixed home networks (Faultline [via The Register] | Peter White)  “The system also comes with some predictive algorithms so that once it has worked out which is the best way to deliver a particular signal, it gets better at finding the most effective radiation pattern more immediately. The company already sees future markets for active antennas in hospitals, inventory tracking, traffic control, car-to-car control, metering, cameras and Internet of Things sensors.”

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