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US Firm Claims To Have Invented A Spray-On Antenna

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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ChamTech says it has an aerosol that can turn a tree into an aerial to give a better phone signal

A spray-on coating that could boost phone reception and Wi-Fi signals was introduced by Anthony Sutera, co-founder of military technology firm ChamTech, at a recent Google “Solve for X” event.

The company claims its product does not just boost phone reception, but can turn just about anything into an antenna.

My other car is an antenna

If you are tired of hunting for invisible streams of radio waves in search of a better signal, this new technology could help. ChamTech’s “antenna-in-a-can” coats an object’s surface with thousands of nanocapacitors and spray-on particles, which can turn virtually anything into a transmitter … even a tree. As an added bonus, the spray-on antenna does not require any power.

In its tests, Sutera’s team sprayed a third-generation iPhone with the material, and claimed it boosted the signal by almost 10 percent. They have also sprayed a tree, which was then capable of broadcasting a VHF signal over 14 miles.

However, do not expect these magic cans to appear in a Carphone Warehouse anytime soon, if ever. As ChamTech is a military supplier, the technology would be used initially by the American armed forces. It could also be deployed in areas hit by natural disasters, as it would allow first responders to establish emergency communications more quickly and efficiently.

If it actually works, that is. Some radio enthusiasts have said the proposed technology goes against the most basic electromagnetics’ laws. Many have called the presentation a hoax. The fact that ChamTech failed to open a “combat training facility” twice in the past does not add to the company’s credibility. And its bare Website does not inspire confidence either.

Spray-on antenna system sounds wonderful in theory. But until we see some real-world testing, or an article in a peer reviewed paper, it is worth taking this discovery with a pinch of salt.

A similar technology was worked on by the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) back in 2001. Since then, all of the companies involved in the project have moved on.