Faster Internet Everywhere Always
A novel technology–related, curiously, to an invisibility cloak–will satisfy your data cravings no matter how far-flung you are. Kymeta’s Vern Fotheringham explains how.
Vern Fotheringham is CEO of Kymeta, which was recently spun out of Intellectual Ventures to commercialize a novel satellite antenna that could bring broadband access anywhere on earth, and for considerably cheaper than existing technologies. We caught up with Fotheringham to learn how you get better Wi-Fi on an airplane, what invisibility and connectivity have in common, and why our YouTube videos still frustratingly stall on our smartphones.
FAST COMPANY: You recently closed a $12 million funding round to commercialize a new broadband technology.
VERN FOTHERINGHAM: This is a technology that’s been under development in Intellectual Ventures labs for about the last two years, and finally it’s reached a state of maturity and capability where we’re ready to turn it into a suite of products. Our first product will offer broadband access for business and private users literally anywhere on the planet that has visibility to the satellites in orbit.
The tech relies on something called metamaterials, which garnered headlines in recent years for its weird ability to manipulate light and render things invisible. What does this have to do with broadband?
Everything, interestingly. Our inventor, Dr. Nathan Kundtz, was pioneering in the optical space, and as a good inventor he was thinking, “Light is simply part of the electromagnetic spectrum. What if we take the capabilities to manipulate light, and what would happen if we tried that in the lower frequencies, into the radiofrequency portion of the spectrum.” It allows us to create beam-forming, dynamically steerable antennas for wireless communication.
Basically, by forming a beam, this enables you to lock on to a satellite?
Correct, it allows you to lock on and track with a satellite. After the portable satellite hot spot, our next products will bring broadband connections to motor homes, boats, trains, planes, and automobiles that have been wastelands for connectivity. They’ll now have access to significant bandwidth, at 10- and even 20-megabits-per-second rates.
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