Antennas & the IoT

January 11, 2017 at 8:00 AM


With all the excitement surrounding the development of the IoT, there is one important part that can’t be overlooked – the antenna. Antennas are integral to implementation of the IoT. Connecting all of the physical objects that make up the IoT requires antennas transmitting a massive amount of data. Thus, without antennas, there would be no IoT.


As IoT use increases, so does the demand for more antennas that meet the needs of IoT applications and meet the expectations of users. Thus, antenna manufacturers and designers have had a voice in the development of IoT devices and are meeting the call for antennas that are up to the task.


Here are some of the ideal traits for antennas designed for IoT applications:


·       Small Form Factor - One of the biggest trends in IoT antennas is smaller form factors. As IoT devices are being implemented in more industries, manufacturers are looking to shrink device footprint. And as devices get smaller, so must the antennas. These small form factor antennas include embedded antennas, PCB antennas and chip antennas.


·       High-Performance - Designers have been working to deliver small antennas without sacrificing performance capabilities because demand for speed and capacity is also growing. Even if the device is the size of a coin, its antenna still needs to meet high-performance standards.


·       Cost-Effective – Adding antennas onto all of these devices can be costly. As device demand increases, manufacturers have begun looking for antennas that will be economic to use on the devices.  


Beyond being small, powerful and cost-effective, there are some other areas of antenna technology that are emerging with the development of the IoT. These include:


·       Two antennas – While two antennas will not be necessary for MIMO communications with lower category LTE devices, two antennas will be needed for Cat4 and above in order to meet requirements for higher speed and throughput systems. LTE cellular networks will also continue to use two cellular antennas to fully achieve high-speed performance.


·       MU-MIMO – Multi-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO) has breathed new life into Wi-Fi by allowing multiple devices to communicate with the access point at the same time. This has made a significant improvement to wireless network throughput and impacted dense, high-capacity networks.


·       Low-Power – Low-power technologies, such as ISM-band solutions, are being developed to provide longer battery life for devices and allow long-range communications at a low-bit rate. Plus, smartphone technologies such as Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) are being adapted to be utilized in IoT applications.


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