An innovative design for a laptop antenna problem

Innovative antenna boosts smartphone and laptop battery life

Image credit: Smart Antenna Technologies

An innovative smartphone and laptop antenna developed by a British engineering start-up prolongs battery life by using less energy than conventional antennas.

The new antenna, developed by Birmingham University spin-out Smart Antenna Technologies (SAT), essentially bundles all existing antennas on a smartphone into one unit. Currently, smartphones need up to seven separate antennas for Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth and 3G and 4G due to physics constraints.

“Previously antenna’s needed to be physically separated due to the physics challenge of achieving good signal isolation between antennas,” explained Sampson Hu, SAT’s CEO, who developed the technology as part of an engineering research project at the University of Birmingham.

“It’s like if the person beside you is shouting loudly it is very difficult to hear what the person 50 meters away is saying.”

The new design overcomes the challenges by isolating individual ports to allow uninterrupted reception on one antenna while another one is transmitting. The whole system, however, is designed as a single unit instead of multiple antennas used traditionally.

“SAT’s antenna system delivers up to 2dB efficiency improvement compared to older technology antennas,” said Hu.

“We are estimating that our technology can lead to savings of up to 10 per cent battery on a standard mobile device.”

The firm has secured £3.5m in venture capital investment to further develop the technology. Several laptop manufacturers have already expressed their interest in the innovative antenna.

“If the laptop has a metal casing then it is impossible to embed an antenna on the top of laptop screen or motherboard and the antenna must sit in the hinge cavity,” Hu explained.

“However, the hinge cavity is a very limited space in which laptop manufactures can only fit simple conventional antennas, typically Wi-Fi and with the cellular antenna being placed elsewhere or not at all.”

The all-in-one solution would solve the problem while avoiding interference typical for conventional antenna designs.

“If conventional antennas are brought so close together interference significantly degrades efficiency and increases battery usage.”

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