Wireless Systems Design

Smart Antenna Extends Wireless-LAN Range

In today's WLAN products, extended range and signal strength are hot features. Corporate wireless-network users are particularly interested in this enhancement, as it would lead to fewer access points. Less APs, in turn, would reduce installation and maintenance costs.

To add range and signal strength to WLAN devices, Motia, Inc. has borrowed an approach that's long been used by cellular-handset designers. It incorporates the needed RF front-end functions into a chip—called the Javelin—that uses smart-antenna technology. Smart antennas are active antenna elements that intelligently search for client devices. They then broadcast a signal directly to them. Traditional antennas merely emit a signal in every direction or toward a given section of free space.

Signal strength also is a key differentiator in smart antennas. They allow both improved coverage and greater penetration of physical barriers like walls. The Javelin, for example, allows wireless access points to capture signals from multiple antenna elements on the chip. These elements are then integrated together to create a stronger signal. This signal can be detected over greater ranges than a signal that's sent out from an existing Wi-Fi device.

When used on one end of a WLAN link, the company claims that the Javelin will double or triple the typical range. Overall area enhancement should be nine times the existing coverage area. When used on both ends of a link, the Javelin technology claims to triple or even quadruple the typical coverage area.

Javelin works with existing baseband and RF chip sets from most vendors. Customers should be able to integrate Javelin easily into their systems. The chip is scheduled for release by the first quarter of this year.

Motia, Inc.
1177 High Ridge Rd., Stamford, CT 06905-1203; (866) 426-6842, www.motia.com.

TAGS: Components
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