February 14, 2012 report
Spray-on antenna gets great reception at Google event
(PhysOrg.com) -- A spray-on antenna? The idea is not fantasy but real and tested technology that works. A Utah startup has introduced a spray-on signal booster in a can that promises an improved signal. The company suggests this is a lightweight, easy answer for smartphone users who are frustrated over dropped calls and poor cellphone reception with traditional antennas. The approach can create signal-boosting antennas on nearby walls, trees or clothes. The spray product was unveiled at Google's Solve for X "conference."
The antenna debut has been a standout at this "Solve" gathering of creative minds. In typically future-focused Google talk, the event is called a forum "to encourage and amplify technology-based moonshot thinking and teamwork."
The company, Chamtech Enterprises, tested the spray on a tree, among other tests, and the team was able to send a VHF signal up to 14 miles away using only the treated tree. Rhett Spencer, chief technology officer of Chamtech, said the companys spray-on technology could make cell phones work with 10 percent better efficiency.
This is not just technology for infotainment at a show. The companys website presents the technology in the form of a Spray On Antenna Kit and tells interested parties to call for pricing. The company is promoting it as a multi-purpose antenna, simple and quick to assemble, mountable on almost any surface, for use in any environment. "Any" bears quite a range of possible end uses.
Chamtech has been talking to government customers but they also hope for a wider customer base including mobile phone makers and manufacturers of medical devices. Also, the company is upbeat over successful tests that were run to examine the spray's signal performance underwater. Chamtech promoters say the technology could be used by weather and oceanographic researchers and underwater welders.
The antenna spray in a can is clearly a coup for this company, which is holding several patents on its nanospray on antenna technology. That is not to say the idea of a spray-on antenna on surfaces does not have a history, which it does. According to an article in 2001, "Spray-on Antennas Make Their Mark," researchers were studying materials that could be used to spray on radio antennas onto surfaces--walls, windows or fabric shelters. Their goal was allowing military commanders and relief workers to set up communications networks quickly, in areas where there was minimal infrastructure. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), was at the time said to be considering a number of possible applications and techniques for using spray-on antennas.
Chamtech's presentation at the Google-sponsored Solve for X appears to be an impressive answer. Anthony Sutera, the company's CEO, is an entrepreneur specializing in radio, satellite and wireless communications systems. Google's bio notes say he has over 20 years' experience in creating and managing companies competing in the communications market.
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