Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Star Trek-type clothing antenna is created

e European Space Agency says a Finnish company has created an antenna that can be built into textiles and used for personal satellitecommunication.

"With a simple press on his shirt insignia, the captain of the Star Ship Enterprise could send and receive messages," the ESA said in a statement. "Now, thanks to the efforts of a Finnish company supported by ESA, this futuristic communication may not be limited to fiction."

The space agency said Finland's Patria Aviation Co. has demonstrated such a flexible antenna built into clothing.

"Flexible antennas are becoming attractive, since the recent developments in 'wearable computing' have opened several possibilities to integrate wireless functions into clothing," said Rolv Midthassel, ESA's representative on the project. "The use of GPS and the Iridium satellite phone system for this project may be an attractive combination for a later product. The Iridium satellites allow two-way voice and data communication, while GPS provides positional data to the user. Iridium could also relay the position of the user to operational centers."

Testing included using the antenna to place calls from Finland to the ESA's research center in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

"We are pleased with the results of this project," said Midthassel. "Such an antenna could be used in occupations such as fire fighting and other emergency situations."