Edinburgh technology firm unveils new 'smart antenna'

iPhone screen The company claims its antenna could help ease network congestion and reduce power drain

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A technology firm has developed a miniature antenna which it claims could make poor reception for smart phones and tablet PCs "a thing of the past".

University of Edinburgh spin-out Sofant Technologies spent seven years developing what it calls the "world's smallest smart antenna".

It said that until now, antenna design had not kept pace with the rapid evolution of smart phone technology.

It aims to license its designs to global smart phone manufacturers.

The antenna features a steerable beam which, rather than constantly looking for signals in all directions, locks onto the strongest signal available at any given time.

The company said this could help ease congestion on the network, reduce power drain on the battery and also lead to a lower carbon foot print.

Performance 'bottleneck'

Sofant chief executive Sergio Tansini said new communication protocols, such as 4G, meant more pressure than ever on existing antenna technology, further impacting smart phone performance and user experience.

He explained: "Smart phone and tablet users expect to be able to make and take phone calls while browsing the web, send texts while downloading emails and stream data while uploading videos to YouTube.

"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 smart phone performs less well than its predecessor, resulting in dropped calls, lost signals, weak connections, slow internet and battery drain."

Sofant received funding and support from Scottish Enterprise for the development of the antenna.

The spin-out of Sofant was supported by Edinburgh Research and Innovation (ERI), the commercialisation arm of the University of Edinburgh.

As a shareholder in Sofant, the university will continue to provide support as the company moves into a commercialisation phase.

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