ALCAN has a revolutionary low-cost smart antenna that is ultra-thin, light, flat and without any mechanical moving parts, allowing it to be mounted inconspicuously within flat or curved surfaces. The antenna has electronic beam steering (i.e. signal tracking) capability, allowing it to continuously track signals from GEO, MEO or LEO satellites from stationary or mobile platforms.
Revolutionary LC based Technology
ALCAN’s beam steering feature is implemented using a liquid crystal (LC) layer inside a phased-array antenna. The LC is controlled by means of electromagnetic field, which changes the direction of the received or transmitted beam without physically turning the antenna.
Leveraging Existing LCD Production Capacity
As these antennas have a similar LC core as LCD TV’s, existing display production capacity can be leveraged to help achieve very low production costs.
Existing Antennas Inadequate
Existing dish antenna have a static beam that transmits/receives the signal to/from a set direction. To scan the entire visible space, a gyroscopic controlled mechanical system that moves the whole antenna is needed. This leads to an antenna that is bulky, lacks aerodynamic qualities and has high costs, making it impractical to deploy wide-scale.
Growing demand for ubiquitous connectivity is driving demand for “smart antennas” that can operate outside of traditional boundaries. The market size is expected to reach € 15 billion by 2025.
Three key themes are driving this demand:
CONNECTIVITY WHILE ON THE MOVE
3 billion people have gone online to date with a further 2 billion more expected to do so over the next 10 years. Increasingly they are seeking connectivity on-the-move:
• SELF DRIVING VEHICLES: Within 3 years the first fully self-driving cars are expected to be commercially available. Built-in high speed connectivity will be an essential requirement for the vehicles’ operation as well as for the connectivity needs of their passengers.
• INTERNET EVERYWHERE: Customers are demanding greater high speed connectivity on mass transportation platforms (ie. planes, buses, ships, trains).
CONNECTIVITY FOR THE “OTHER THREE BILLION”
As connectivity is increasingly becoming a basic “human right”, connecting the rest of the global population is becoming an important social and commercial priority.
A number of new satellite projects are emerging which are based on MEO or LEO satellite networks. These networks require smart antennas that can track “moving” satellites.
INTERNET OF THINGS (IOT)
Currently there are 5 billion devices (e.g. environmental sensors, remote stations, oil platforms etc.) connected to the internet; this is forecast to grow up to 50 billion by 2025.
These devices are driving the need for connectivity in areas not traditionally reachable by fixed or cellular networks.
Satellite connectivity could provide the answer, particularly from LEO or MEO constellations, necessitating smart antennas that can track these satellites.