Boffins Got Talent
7:05 AM -- Smartphone design may never be the same again if a technology developed at a British university lives up to its inventors' claims.
That's what I find myself thinking after hearing the pitch from a startup called Smart Antenna Technologies (SAT) at the Discovering Start-Ups 2012 competition in London this week.
That was just one of the exciting prospects from this heartening event, where 20 different companies from across the U.K. pitched their inventions and business ideas. The panel of judges were from various investors and companies, including Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM), Orange (NYSE: FTE), Silicon Valley Bank and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), and they chose five winners from the 20 finalists.
Smart Antenna Technologies was one of the winners. It's such an early-stage startup that it hasn't yet been spun out from the University of Birmingham (that move is planned for the first quarter of next year).
Here's the pitch: The company says it has developed a smartphone antenna design whereby one antenna can replace all the different antennas that devices require today, and it has 14 patents and two more on the way for its technology. SAT says its design supports frequency bands from 450MHz to 6GHz; supports multiple technologies, including 2G, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS; extends the phone's battery life; is low cost; and takes up about 75 percent less space than current smartphone antenna designs.
It sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? But if it works, I think this could be a significant development for smartphone makers because it would save them money as well as space on the devices while also improving functionality and efficiency.
SAT was just one of many new companies with compelling technology stories at the contest. Here's a snapshot of the other four winners:
- Anvil Semiconductors has patented technology to develop silicon carbide power semiconductor devices for the same price as silicon technology.
- D-RisQ provides automation software that reduces development costs of complex systems, such as industrial machinery or military aircraft.
- Skin Analytics has a smartphone app that tracks changes in moles to help detect melanoma skin cancer.
- TopicLogic has a Web service for businesses that helps them manage and share digital files.
It was fascinating to see so much creativity and innovation in one place. And even though many of these startups still face the task of convincing investors to back them, it's exciting to think that any of them could kick off the next big thing in wireless and telecom.
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile