Feeds

Scottish brainiacs erect wee super-antenna

Putting intelligence into the aerial

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

A spinout from Edinburgh University is touting a mobile-phone antenna smart enough to aim at the nearest base station, and small enough to squeeze into the slimmest smartphone.

The technology was developed at Edinburgh University by a trio including one professor and a PhD student, backed with £450,000 from the Scottish Enterprise, who've spent six years getting the technology right and are now looking for someone to license the idea.

The antenna design was spun out unto a company called Sofant back in October last year, with the University remaining a shareholder, but Sofant now has a working prototype which is capable of directing the transmitted signal towards the nearest base station - hugely reducing the power required as well as improving reception.

Making radio signals directional is very helpful, but hard to do when one end of the transmission keeps moving. "Beam forming" is the answer, and very much in vogue at the moment. Wi-Fi access points happily track multiple devices as they move around an office, and satellites can create multiple spot beams from orbit, sometimes even on the same frequency, aimed at the receiving station to increase capacity as well as reducing the required transmission power.

Size comparison

It's small, but is it small enough?

But fitting the same tech into a mobile phone is much harder. Mobile phones aren't isotropic (they don't transmit equally in all directions), as they use antennas designed to avoid radiating up and down (something worth remembering if one is using a headset with the phone resting on a desk), but Sofant takes that much further by actively directing the transmitted signal.

To do that it needs clever software, and a chip upon which to run it – compared to current antennas which are generally printed onto the circuit board. The question, therefore, is if the Sofant design can save more energy than would be supplied by a battery occupying the same space, something phone manufacturers around the world will no doubt be evaluating over the next few months. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.