Virtual Antenna™ features
Virtual Antenna™ technology is based on replacing a complex and usually customized antenna designs with an off-the-shelf, miniature and multiband component called an antenna booster (Figure 1). Being surface-mount and chip-like in nature, the antenna booster fits seamlessly in an electronic printed circuit board the same way any other electronic component (an amplifier, filter or switch, to name a few) does. Virtual Antenna™ gets this name from the fact that an antenna booster, when is strategically placed on a device’s PCB (Printed Circuit Board), can boost currents on the ground plane of the PCB to make it an effective radiator -. Consequently, the size of an antenna booster can be very small compared to other conventional multiband antennas (Figure 1). For example, the antenna booster shown in Figure 2 has a size of 12 mm x 3 mm x 2.4 mm which in terms of the wavelength, represents only λ/30 at 824 MHz referred to its longest dimension of 12 mm. This tiny and versatile component has been recently adopted, among other IoT devices, in the open-source hardware platform mangOH™ Yellow, a super sensor for cellular industrial IoT.
Besides its small size, Virtual Antenna™ features multiband operation in the frequency range from 0.698 GHz up to 6 GHz. To achieve either single or multiband operation, a matching network is combined with an antenna booster with a totally passive solution since the matching network comprises lumped components (inductors and capacitors). In some particular devices where the size of the device is small (∼50 mm), architectures using smart matching networks can be combined with Virtual Antenna™ as well . A recent IoT platform adopting this technology is the Thingy:91 by Nordic Semiconductor which is a multi-sensor prototyping kit ideal for kick starting cellular IoT projects.