Your iPhone can send data pretty fast over a wireless network, but it’s hobbled in at least one regard: the wireless antenna design can’t send data while receiving data at the same time. That means that the data speeds of your iPhone are potentially cut in half, just by the nature of wireless technology. But a new circuit could allow future iPhones to double their data speeds without making any other changes.
Up until now, small wireless devices like smartphones have had antenna designs imposed upon them that necessitate sending and receiving data separately. It may not seem like it because of how fast the packets are juggled, but the reality is your iPhone can’t send a packet of data while simultaneously downloading: it needs to temporarily pause one or the other. Bigger devices escape this problem thanks to the use of more expensive and larger arrays, but smartphones? They’re out of luck.
Well… out of luck until now. A research team from the University of Texas has created a sample circuit out of inexpensive materials that allows any smartphone modem to send or receive data at the same time. “It’s ideal for a cell phone,” Andrea Alú, the UT professor who led the research. “This is just a standalone piece of hardware you put behind your antenna.”
And best of all? It’s cheap. It’s literally just a few cents worth of parts, inserted behind current antennas and modems. The only issue as it stands is that the prototypes of the University of Texas’s new technology are a couple of centimeters wide, but the research team says it would be easy to shrink down to a few microns. That means that even before 5G hits, future iPhones could very well see 5G-like speeds. Pretty rad, huh?