Multi-function antenna fits in laptop hinge

The company behind the antenna is in talks with Sony to manufacture the tech in Wales(Credit: University of Birmingham/SAT)

Scientists at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom have come up with a multi-function laptop antenna that's able to squeeze inside a hinge. The tech packs Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, and 3G/4G LTE into a single unit, and could allow for thin-and-light notebooks with better connectivity and longer battery life.

The new hardware was developed by researchers at the UK's University of Birmingham, and has now been turned into a market-ready product by spin-out company Smart Antenna Technology, or SAT.

The problem with conventional antennas is that they can't be placed immediately next to each other, as that would lead to interference, potentially significantly reducing the performance of the hardware.

If a laptop has an all-metal build, then its designers are forced to fit its antennas inside the hinge cavity. But in that relatively small piece of real estate, only a limited amount of hardware can be included — usually just a Wi-Fi and a 3G/4G LTE antenna.

SAT's antenna not only combines all of the essential antennas for a high-end laptop (such as Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and 4G/LTE), but it also incorporates secondary Wi-Fi and 3G/4G LTE antennas, allowing for Multi-Input-Multi-Output (MIMO) functionality, which improves data download rates.

According to the team behind the new hardware, a single SAT unit could replace as many as five separate antennas you might find in your current notebook. Furthermore, it also reportedly requires less power than the conventional set ups, meaning it could lead not only to better connectivity for thin-and-light laptops, but also slightly longer battery life.

SAT is currently in talks with Sony to manufacture the antenna system at one of the company's plants, located in Cardiff, Wales.

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