SAN JOSE, Calif. Startup Dockon (Reno, Nev.) debuted Tuesday (March 16) a novel antenna technology that combines electrical and magnetic elements to achieve new levels of efficiency for a brand range of wireless systems. The company has developed single-frequency reference designs for 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi and 850 MHz cellular and is working on multi-frequency designs now.
Dockon's so-called compound PxM loop antenna creates a virtual three-dimensional antenna by harnessing the combined effects of and electrical antenna and a magnetic loop bonded at a 90-degree angle. The company claims to have shown designs that achieve 92 and 97 percent efficiency, well above the 40 percent efficiency level typical for many of today's antennas.
"When we first present these to antenna engineers their first response is it's impossible," said Patrick Johnston who joined the company eight months ago as its chief executive.
"Our technique is in how we excite the electrical and magnetic elements and the physical location of the two radiators to make the electronics think they are operating in 3-D pattern," said Johnston "The technique was mathematically proven years ago to deliver these efficacy rates, but no one has implemented it in a commercial technology until now," he added.
"They are doing something different, trying to solve a real problem the industry needs to solve—but whether they as a company can execute remains to be seen," said Francis Sideco, a principal wireless analyst at market watcher iSuppli Corp. "The approach looks good to me, but they still need some more tests and data points to prove their proposition," he said.
A handful of other competitors are working on new antenna designs including startup Skycross (Viera, Florida) which debuted in July 2009 using a more mature technology, Sideco added.
The Dockon antenna design can be printed on "virtually any substrate including a few copper traces on an existing pc-board," keeping manufacturing costs low, said Johnston. The company is not releasing costs to license its technology, but Johnston said in some applications it could come at similar costs or a slight premium over existing approaches.
The startup is showing a 2.4 GHz antenna smaller than a dime that offers in simulations a 97 percent efficiency rating for a Wi-Fi system.
The company has taken about $3 million in financing from a Swiss private equity firm. It was founded by a retired engineer from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab.