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Anatech Electronics, a manufacturer of RF and microwave filters, has published its January 2016 newsletter. As always, it includes both company news and some tidbits about relevant industry happenings. This month, Sam Benzacar's main story surveys last year's RF-related news-making happenings and prognosticates about the year ahead - all from the perspective of what amateur radio operators call QRM, or manmade interference. Sam is in the business of building filters, so he is well aware of the ever-increasing density of electromagnetic signals in all bands, and the corresponding need to operate successfully within it.
By Sam Benzacar
Every year, the density of emitters in the spectrum between HF and mid-microwave frequencies increases and along with it the amount of potential interference – and last year was no exception. So in this first newsletter of 2016 I'd like to make some projections about what might be in store in the next 12 months from an interference perspective. It's important to remember that most of the interference sources mentioned below can be solved by prudent use of RF and microwave filters.
Cellular networks: The number of frequencies used by cellular networks throughout the world is inching toward four dozen, channel spacing is extremely narrow, and services are now sharing bands with cellular networks. This will almost certainly continue in 2016, resulting in greater interference potential. LTE Advanced, which offers advanced interference management techniques, has already been introduced in at least a dozen countries and is gaining steam in the U.S. This may help solve some of the interference problem – but not all of it.
The Internet of Things: For all of you who are tiring of hearing about "IoT" and want to see something actually happen, 2016 ought to be a more productive year than last. That means millions of tiny transmitters and receivers will be attempting to talk to each other at very low power levels so even signals at even modest levels can cause problems. Expect to hear about some in 2016.
LTE-U: That is, LTE in Unlicensed Spectrum, by which wireless carriers can boost coverage by adding bandwidth at 5 GHz (where some Wi-Fi operates) to its network on a shared basis. Shared services can work if the scheme ensures they won't combat each other for supremacy by overlapping and causing lost packets. Google thinks this worst case is exactly what will happen, but its 25-page protest to the FCC was considered by some as an unrealistic demonstration and indicative of nothing. Regardless, expect to hear a lot about LTE-U this year, hopefully in a positive context.
V2V and V2I: These acronyms refer to vehicle-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, which will be a key enabler of autonomous vehicles in order to provide situational awareness. While they are not potential interference generators today, there is good reason to believe they ultimately will be, so watch for news this year as trials take place to see how well they work.
These are not the only interference scenarios to watch for this year, but they represent emerging applications that have the potential to cause havoc. Watch this space for news on these topics. And as I noted earlier, RF and microwave filters are the "go to" components for eliminating interference in every type of system no matter how small, how high in power, or how high in frequency.
So whether you're designing a system or attempting to eliminate interference in an existing one, Anatech Electronics has both the resources to help you best address the problem and the filters designed to solve it. Please contact us by email or by calling us at (973) 772-4242.
Cord Cutting Continues
According to the Pew Research Center, although 80% of adults in America have Internet access via either a smartphone or broadband (versus 78% two years ago), people who get Internet access via wired (or Wi-Fi) broadband dropped from 70% in 2013 to 67% in 2015. In contrast, people using only mobile devices for Internet access increased to 13% this year from 8% in 2013. The reason, according to the researchers, is that broadband costs more and cellular data rates are high enough to make wired broadband unnecessary. That said, doing detailed work using LTE on a smartphone or even a tablet rather than a PC is a lot less productive for most people and broadband data rates are much more stable, so the researchers believe the trend toward total cord cutting may top out.
Keeping out Those Unhealthy Radio Waves
Shield Headwear has designed a line of headwear designed to protect people from electromagnetic fields. The company's beanies supposedly reflect signals from cell phones, Wi-Fi, and other emitters although not 100% of them, according to its Kickstarter page "but better than nothing". The hats come in light gray, dark gray white, and black in sizes from newborn to adult and the fabric is antimicrobial, antiodor, and washable. Shield Headwear wants to move into production, improve its technology, and design new apparel by generating cash via Kickstarter.
Wireless Charging 2.0
Energous Corp. has developed WattUp, whose transmitters deliver energy to devices via microwave beams to charge mobile devices. The company demonstrated this at CES 2015, reportedly with good results: During a demonstration there, small antennas embedded in speakers, televisions, and dedicated router-size boxes directed power to toys, lights, and cellphones over distances of several meters. WattUp uses beam-forming and operates at 5.8 GHz to produce different paths that converge around the device to be charged. Together, they generate enough RF power for a receiving antenna to harvest. Energous commissioned a performance evaluation from Underwriters Laboratories, which verified that under ideal conditions a WattUp transmitter can charge up to four devices simultaneously.
Microwaves Drive Food Processing System
15 Labs has developed a food processing and packaging technology called Microwave Assisted Thermal Sterilization (MATS) and has received a $3 million initial round of funding. The company's MATS-150 system simultaneously heats packaged food externally in a pressurized hot water bath and internally using a patented microwave energy delivery system at 915 MHz. This rapidly heats the entire package of food to sterilization temperature and then rapidly cools the food to minimize any heat damage, eliminating pathogens and spoilage microorganisms in minutes. The shortened heating time preserves the nutrients, color, texture and flavor of foods while providing a shelf life equivalent to conventionally processed foods. The first commercial-scale MATS-150 system, capable of processing 150 food packages per minute, will go online in 2016, and MATS-processed foods may reach stores early in 2017.
Smart Oven Market Lively: Report
The global "smart" microwave oven market will grow nearly 28% annually through 2020, according to a report from Infinifi Research Limited. These appliances are considered smart as they rely on connectivity to the Internet and smartphone apps providing capabilities largely unavailable today. This market also includes RF cooking appliances that use solid-state devices (LDMOS transistors) instead of magnetrons to heat multiple types of food simultaneously. The market is dominated by North America (38% of revenue) followed by Asia-Pacific and Europe. The report says the market will grow consistently in North America as IoT penetrates more residences. Top vendors in the market are Breville, GE, June, LG, Samsung, Bosch, Electrolux, Haier, Panasonic, Sharp, and Whirlpool.
About Anatech Electronics
Anatech Electronics, Inc. (AEI) specializes in the design and manufacture of standard and custom RF and microwave filters and other passive components and subsystems employed in commercial, industrial, and aerospace and applications. Products are available from an operating frequency range of 10 kHz to 30 GHz and include cavity, ceramic, crystal, LC, and surface acoustic wave (SAW), as well as power combiners/dividers, duplexers and diplexers, directional couplers, terminations, attenuators, circulators, EMI filters, and lightning arrestors. The company's custom products and capabilities are available at www.anatechelectronics.com.
Anatech Electronics, Inc.
70 Outwater Lane
Garfield, NJ 07026
Posted January 13, 2016