Antenna innovation promises in-flight broadband

Low cost mobile broadband for air-travellers is a step closer thanks to a £300,000 prize from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) a UK researcher has claimed.

Currently, air passengers have to switch their mobile phones to ‘Flight Mode’ and pay an additional charge to access data on their devices. However, according to Prof Yang Hao from Queen Mary University of London, advances in next generation antennas will enable a seamless broadband experience from land to air, at no additional cost.

Prof Hao, who is the winner of the IET’s A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize, has been working on the development of smart antenna systems for a number of years. He has already developed several fully-integrated antenna solutions based on novel artificial materials to reduce mutual RF interference, weight, cost and system complexity and also co-developed an advanced metamaterial to enhance usability through small antenna size, high directivity, and tuneable operational frequency.

credit Sam Churchill, via Fkickr
The technology could lead to low-cost broadband for air travellers. credit Sam Churchill, via Flickr

The cash injection from the IET will, he said, help take this work out of the laboratory and into the real world: “Our goal is to make low cost smart antenna systems, an engineering reality that can be enjoyed by everyone, from professionals in satellite communications to air passengers who want to stay connected on their mobile phone or devices.”

Sir John O’Reilly, Chair of the IET’s Selection Committee for the prize, said: “Professor Hao is awarded the Prize in recognition of his research achievements in microwaves, antennas and, in particular, metamaterial antenna innovations drawing inspiration from transformation optics.”