One Antenna to Rule Them All

At the heart of all wireless communications lies an antenna, or in the case of today’s mobile phones and laptops that need to receive Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, EVDO, WiMax or DVB-H, sometimes two or three. Packing each of these antennas into a small form factor is expensive and can cause interference problems, so when I saw that SkyCross, an antenna company in Viera, Fla., had managed to receive several signals on one antenna, I thought that was pretty sweet.

The company, which was spun off from BAE Systems in 2002 and has raised at least $36.5 million in venture capital from TL Ventures, Intel Capital and SK Telecom, discovered a way to use multiple feed points on one antenna by accident. The result: one antenna that acts like three or four. SkyCross calls it “isolated mode antenna technology,” or iMAT. Instead of two antennas, a SkyCross antenna user gets one antenna with two ports for each frequency. Theoretically one could have an infinite number of antennas, notes Paul Tornatta, managing director with SkyCross, but right now the practical limit is three or four.

Efficient antennas require less effort to “talk” to a base station, so the proliferation of iMAT antennas could improve network operations while also sucking less juice from a device’s battery. SkyCross antennas are already in USB dongles and data cards, will soon be found in certain cell-phone handsets and eventually, in laptops and router cards.

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