Kirkland-based Pivotal Commware showed off its Holographic Beam Forming technology indoors and in public for the first time last month.
With this technology, the company aims to help carriers and mobile network operators provide customers with 5G coverage and capacity, especially inside buildings where reception can be tricky.
At the Mobile World Congress Americas in Los Angeles, Pivotal Commware’s Echo 5G device was attached to the outside of a double-paned, low-emission glass surface, simulating the window of a house. (Low-emission glass is designed to decrease the amount of infrared and ultraviolet light that passes through it, and as a result, can decrease the amount of radio signals allowed in as well.)
“What we’re showing you is really the baseline of, ‘Can we make this work? Can we get this done? Can we get that signal into the house so that these people can enjoy movies on demand and all sorts of other things?’” said Brian Deutsch, Pivotal Commware’s CEO, during the demonstration. “I think it’s pretty mind blowing when you see it.”
The audience watched as the Echo 5G device tracked a signal from a base station set up across the stage and boosted it through the glass to a receiver on the inside of the “house.” The 28 GHz test was performed both with the base station pointing straight at the device, and with the base station pointing at a 45-degree angle away from the device. Both times, the demonstration was a success.
“It sounds rather Star Wars-like,” Deutsch said of the metamaterials-based technology, “But what it does is it allows us to create, in essence, a software defined antenna.”
According to Deutsch, the Echo 5G device provides advantages in terms of cost, size, weight, and power consumption, as compared to other similar technologies. Plus, it’s self-installable.
“If I’m a base station like this one and I’m serving a neighborhood, and all of a sudden there’s a cul-de-sac, I have to put another base station in over there? Or can I put a reflector in?” Deutsch said. “We (can) take two holographic beam formers, one on one side and one on the other. One finds the donor and one rounds the corner.”
Each device has a range of nearly a kilometer, and multiple devices can be linked together to stretch that range even further. That means, with Pivotal Commware’s technology in place, fewer base stations would be required to provide 5G service to an area.
According to the company, wireless carriers will be able to compete for more than $100 billion in new revenue thanks to the device.
“That’s Echo 5G. That’s what we can do with holographic beam forming and a little bit of passion, a little bit of art and science,” Deutsch said.