Intel Blesses Motia's Smart Antenna Technology
By Mark Frauenfelder, Wed Jun 23 23:45:00 GMT 2004

It seems as if everyone is hawking an antenna that can reconfigure itself on-the-fly. Did Intel just pick the winner?

Intel and group of venture capitalists announced that they were kicking in $12 million to fund the development of Motia's silicon chip based "smart antenna," which could boost Wi-Fi performance in mobile devices, and nudge WiMax one step closer to reality.

Motia's smart antenna is actually several antennae combined, which can track a moving mobile device and adjust its antenna characteristics in real time to yield the greatest possible data throughput. The company claims its "beamforming" technology can triple the effective radius of a Wi-Fi signal from 300 feet to 900 feet.

Motia offers two different types of smart antenna. One is for receiving satellite signals in moving cars, and the other is for pumping up the signal-to-noise ratio of Wi-Fi and WiMax base stations. Obviously, Intel in interested in the second application, since it is making chipsets that'll have Wi-Fi and WiMax capabilities.

Twelve million dollars, while not a fortune, is a vote of confidence for Motia, which faces competition from at least three other smart antenna startups, including BandSpeed, WiFi Plus, and ZeeWaves, all of which are touting their own solution for boosting a wireless signal.

The Intel announcement follows the news in January that Motorola would use Motia’s technology in its Wi-Fi and high-speed wireless products, perhaps even its phones. By winning both Intel and Motorola’s pecuniary nod of approval, Motia has undoubtedly set its competitors’ antennae a-twitch.