By Daniel Hunter
Edinburgh-based Sofant Technologies has unveiled revolutionary miniature antenna technology that is predicted to transform the performance of smart phones and tablet PCs, making poor reception, dropped calls and short battery life things of the past.
Following seven years of research and development at The University of Edinburgh, Sofant aims to license its designs to global smart phone manufacturers and is projecting a turnover of over £10m in year five. The smart phone market is now larger than the PC market with an estimated five billion units to be manufactured over the next five years, 40 new phones every second.
Sergio Tansini, CEO of Sofant, explains: “Antenna design has not kept pace with the rapid evolution of smart phone technology. New communication protocols, such as LTE and 4G, mean more pressure than ever on existing antenna technology, further impacting smart phone performance and user experience. 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’s high performance miniaturised steerable antenna will change the performance and user experience of smart phones forever.”
Sofant has integrated three core technologies to create the world’s smallest smart antenna. The family of two designs comprise the tunable RF MEMS modules and Sofant Intelligent Software. The technologies can be licensed individually or as a single smart micro antenna system. The company has already licensed an early technology demonstrator to a large OEM and attracted considerable interest from many leading manufacturers.
Sofant has received funding and support from Scottish Enterprise, helping to build the strength of the commercialisation team from day one. Scottish Enterprise’s Proof of Concept Programme enabled it recruit a strong advisory board, analyse the market and develop a prototype.
Eleanor Mitchell, Director of Commercialisation, Scottish Enterprise, says: "Scottish Enterprise has worked closely with Sofant to help build a strong commercial proposition and the company has already attracted commitment from industry veterans to take the technology to market. Smart antenna technology presents some very exciting opportunities for Sofant and Scottish Enterprise's commercialisation team is actively helping the company raise the funds needed to turn these opportunities into realities. We look forward to continuing to work with Sofant in the future to help achieve its ambitious growth plans both in Scotland and on a global scale."
The spinout of Sofant has been supported by Edinburgh Research and Innovation (ERI), the commercialisation arm of the University of Edinburgh. As a shareholder in Sofant, following its spin out, the university will continue to provide valuable support as the company moves into a commercialisation phase.