Smart antenna technologies are emerging as an innovative way to meet the growing demand for more powerful, cost-effective and highly efficient wireless systems. With the potential to tremendously impact the performance of wireless systems in terms of data rates, coverage and range, these technologies look set to take the wireless communications industry to the next level.
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“While techniques such as lower noise amplifiers and wider bandwidths can enhance the performance of wireless systems to some extent, they cannot match the huge benefits offered by smart antennas,” says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Ashwini Meena. “The attraction of smart antenna technologies lies in the fact that they offer specific benefits such as greater coverage and range, improved building penetration, higher data rates and capacity, as well as reduced multipath and co-channel interference.”
The use of digital signal processors (DSPs) in smart antennas is a key driver for the growth of these technologies. With these low-cost DSPs, smart antennas can move beyond defense systems and be incorporated in commercial systems as well. This is likely to enable the use of smart antenna technologies in a wide range of wireless applications such as worldwide interoperability for microwave access (WiMax) and voice over wireless fidelity (VoWi-FI).
Emerging application areas such as ultra wideband (UWB), radio frequency identification (RFID), and mobile direct broadcast satellite (DBS) are also likely to see widespread adoption of these technologies in the next few years. Smart antennas can significantly enhance the performance of mobile DBS in increasingly popular automotive accessories such as back-seat video systems. Innovative applications based on the benefits of these technologies, such as providing location information during emergencies, are also emerging in the market.
“In the near future, some of the potential application opportunities for smart antennas are cellular networks, wireless local area networks (WLANs), WiMax and Mobile DBS,” says Meena. “By 2007, smart antennas are likely to become a common feature in these application areas and with the confirmation of 802.11n standard, the number of smart antenna products entering the market is likely to increase considerably.”
While growth projections for wireless technologies are extremely promising, they do face certain limitations – related to wireless noise, range and performance – that could adversely impact their future. Smart antenna technologies could resolve such issues as their application areas are extremely wide.
However, it is critical for the smart antenna industry to closely track trends in the wireless communication industry in order to be compatible with emerging wireless technologies.
For instance, the proliferation of different types of wireless systems, each offering different advantages under diverse conditions, is creating a strong need for devices that can be used with a variety of systems. This gives rise to the considerable challenge of incorporating smart antennas into these multi-platform devices – especially if they have a small form factor – to enable the various systems to deliver their best performance.
A case in point is the shrinking dimensions of wireless devices such as cell phones, which have created a need for miniature antennas that can be easily and effectively embedded in these devices. However, reducing the size of antenna arrays presents another significant challenge for smart antenna systems.
“The wireless communication industry is characterized by rapid innovations, expanding applications, fierce competition and market demands, which contribute to creating factors that are challenging in its own terms. There are some key challenges that are yet to be addressed. Given the attractiveness of the performance and service quality benefits to be gained, these challenges – including technical problems facing the smart antennas –will be solved.”
Smart Antennas for Future Wireless Systems is part of the Electronic Devices Growth Partnership Services Program, and provides an overview of the key technologies and latest developments in the smart antenna industry along with a complete analysis of major technology drivers, restraints and trends. It reviews the advancements in the field of smart antenna technologies and assesses their enormous potential to impact wireless communications in terms of high-performance benefits. Executive summaries and interviews are available to the press.
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Smart Antennas for Future Wireless Systems