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Designing IoT Antennas that Make the Connection

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Designing IoT Antennas that Make the Connection The many different mechanical and electrical requirements for IoT devices pose challenges for antenna designers seeking the best combination of price and performance. S ensors may one day be everywhere, providing remote monitoring and control of electronic devices by means of the internet and Internet of Things (IoT) ap- plications. But first, those millions of IoT devices that rely on wireless communications for internet access will need antennas. Among the challenges in designing those many antennas will be the clas- sic tradeoffs of performance for size: since many IoT devices are meant to be completely unobtrusive as they commu- nicate to the internet, anten- nas will need to be compact. But such factors as the wireless frequency band, the required communica- tion range of the IoT de- vice, the data upload and download rates between the IoT device and the wireless access point, even the location of the IoT device can all determine the type of antenna that best suits a particular IoT applica- tion. To complicate matters, the antenna may have to fit into an IoT device that is small enough to es- sentially remain invisible. Market forecasts are predict- ing millions if not billions of IoT products to be sold during the next half-decade, with applications spanning commercial, industrial, and military areas. Devices may be as simple as temperature sensors for remote-control thermostats to more complex security systems in warehouses. Some IoT devices may gain access to the internet using electrical wired or optical connec- tions, but many will rely on wire- less communications for Internet access, and the antenna will be a key part of that link. Wireless internet access for IoT devices will be achieved via exist- ing standards, such as wireless local area net- work (WLAN) channels (per IEEE 802.11), W-Fi, standard Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), radio- frequency identification (RFID) channels, even cellular radio sig- nals, using Third Generation (3G) and Fourth Generation (4G) Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless net- works. The choice of wireless ac- cess will play a role in the function- ality of any IoT device. A wireless standard such as BLE, for example, can provide short-distance wireless communications with extremely low power consumption, remaining active for extended pe- riods on battery power. Any IoT antenna de- sign must be optimized for the wireless band or bands of interest. Addi- tional capability, such as a BLE-enabled IoT prod- uct that operates with energy scavenged from co-located radio signals, can further complicate the antenna design. The various wireless standards offer different capabilities, requiring IoT antennas that support different frequen- cies, bandwidths, and polar- ization schemes, resulting in different design strategies. An IoT device, for example, may require access to mul- tiple wireless standards, such as 4G and WLAN/ Wi-Fi. Factors such as cost and IoT device package size will help a de- signer determine if such a case can 1. The Antenna Library screen in Ant- Sys shows some of the many antenna models that can be used as starting points for design and simulation. A Supplement to Microwaves & RF Sponsored by Cadence

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