When you are developing a connected, wireless product, the antenna is one of the most critical design areas. Because the user experience depends on how well your product connects! Whether you are making an IoT device, smartphone, or smart ring, you can choose between two alternatives: design a custom antenna, or use an off-the-shelf (OTS) antenna. Both have their pros and cons, but here are five reasons why you should go for custom antenna design to deliver your customers a superior user experience!
The custom antenna is the need of the IoT world
Antenna experts are helping you with integrating the standard off-the-shelf (OTS) antennas and also providing a solution to customize the antenna in the RF and wireless communication market. Standard antennas offer a promising performance in ideal environments even without the matching circuit. OTS antennas can lower the cost for designing (simulations and optimization) and manufacturing (tooling and testing) of the device. Meanwhile, it also helps the engineers to meet the cost targets and delivery schedule. But a wrong decision in the selection of antenna lowers the reliability and overall efficiency of the device.
The rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the customer’s application require some special modifications in the existing model to perform effectively. Several electrical and mechanical factors to be considered to customize an antenna and to fulfill those requirements.
Custom antenna vs. Off-the-Shelf antenna comparison
In recent time, the demand for wireless products and IoT devices have shown a rapid growth which compelled the antenna engineers to confront in choosing the available options of antennas.
OTS antennas offer better gain and efficiency in ideal conditions. But the matching circuit is required to attain correct input impedance and better performance. Usually, the standard antennas have enough ground plane surface to neglect the external interference but in wearables and IoT devices, antenna designers must figure out the limitation of the ground plane and circuit effects.
From the cost-effective point, engineers try to optimize the PCB with a thinner layer of the stack and avoid the expensive materials i.e. Rogers materials. Our team also focuses on the following factors: What is the application of the antenna? What are the desired antenna dimensions? Where should the antenna be placed? How many units are required? Non-recurring engineering (NRE) and bill of materials (BOM) cost? What is the schedule of the project?
|Performance (following design rules)
|Performance (breaking design rules)
As the number of IoT devices and consumer electronics is increasing to connect over Wi-Fi, the complexity of wireless devices is also increasing which compacts the antenna size and antenna placement.
Several options for placement of antenna have been established to achieve the desired antenna performance i.e. placement of antenna within the device or on PCB or external. For example, a smartphone has more than six antennas and all are compact inside the body to ensure calls, Bluetooth, Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi), Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless communication standard, Global Positioning System (GPS), Near-Field Communication (NFC).
In the wearable industry, special materials for antenna designing have been introduced according to the application. Antenna size, placement and material characteristics for environmental ruggedness in wireless communication lead the antenna engineers to the development of custom antennas that meet the requirements of the customer with respect to their application.
A practical example of how Custom antenna overcomes OTS challenges
In the pictures below, there are three different situations. First is an example of an Off the Shelf (OTS) antenna on plain PCB with antenna appropriate clearance. The second is OTS on PCB and display metal frame followed by a custom antenna with display metal frame. A comparison of efficiencies is presented to understand the importance of custom antenna.