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Edinburgh firm develops miniature antenna to boost mobile reception

New technology could help to deal with the 4G data deluge

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An Edinburgh-based company has developed a miniature antenna for smartphones and tablet PCs, which it claims could make poor reception a thing of the past.

The antenna features a steerable beam that locks onto the strongest signal available at any given time, rather than constantly looking for signals in all directions. This not only improves reception but also results in fewer dropped calls and better battery life, according to Sofant.

“The reality is that, until now, the antenna has acted as a bottleneck to performance in mobile devices. As a result, every new generation of smartphone performs less well than its predecessor, resulting in dropped calls, lost signals, weak connections, slow internet and battery drain,” said Sergio Tansini, CEO of Sofant.

Tansini explained that new communication protocols, such as LTE, are putting more pressure than ever on existing antenna technology, as smartphone and tablet users expect their devices to be able to perform multiple tasks at once.

“Sofant’s high performance miniaturised steerable antenna will change the performance and user experience of smartphones forever,” he said.

Sofant has spent seven years developing the technology at the University of Edinburgh, with funding and support from Scottish Enterprise.

Eleanor Mitchell, director of commercialisation at Scottish Enterprise, said that smart antenna technology presents “some very exciting opportunities for Sofant” and Scottish Enterprise's commercialisation team is “actively helping the company raise the funds needed to turn these opportunities into realities”.

The designs for the tunable RF Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (RF-MEMS) modules and Sofant Intelligent Software can be licensed individually or as a single smart micro antenna system.

The company has already licensed an early technology demonstrator to a large OEM and claims to have attracted “considerable interest” from many leading manufacturers.


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