Kymeta Plans 2017 Release of mTenna Product Line
[Via Satellite 06-17-2016] Kymeta plans to release the first commercial units of its meta-materials technology based mTenna in 2017. The software-defined electronically steered antenna is anticipated to open new markets for satellite connectivity and broaden those where satellite has a presence today.
The mTenna has evolved over the course of its development, delaying introduction but creating a product Kymeta executives believe will be significantly more capable than the originally conceived version. These changes include a transition last year from a rectilinear design, but has now shifted to a cylindrical one — an architecture the company described as making the antenna “work exponentially better” than the 2014 iteration. The mTenna development kits last year were based on Printed Circuit Board (PCB) technology, but in an interview with Via Satellite, Kymeta President and CEO Nathan Kundtz said the company shifted to building the antennas based on Thin-Film-Transistor (TFT) technology used for Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs).
Because the mTenna’s active layer is similar to an LCD screen, Kymeta is using television manufacturer Sharp’s TFT production lines to produce the antennas. Kundtz said Kymeta started building mTennas with Sharp around the end of last year.
“We are in the middle of productizing that technology,” said Kundtz. “We have gone through two alpha spins, we will go through two more beta spins this year, and intend to release to pilot manufacturing in December of this year. We will have limited availability early in 2017.”
The first commercial version of the mTenna will measure 70cm and support Ku-band communications. Kymeta shipped Sharp-produced alpha versions of the product to partners and customers last year. Its first debut took place at the Detroit Auto Show, followed by an Intelsat-supported connected car drive to the SATELLITE 2016 Conference and Exhibition in March. Kymeta tested the antenna through more than 20,000 miles of driving on a Toyota 4Runner, and also completed a demo on a yacht.
Read the article at Via Satellite