A local start-up technology company successfully created a design for a 5G radio frequency filter that will take what is usually a 30-minute download of a movie on an iPhone and cut it down to 34 seconds.
Resonant Inc., an electronics manufacturer on Cremona Drive in Goleta, provides its customers with software tools, IP and licensable blocks that enable innovative filter designs for the mobile industry.
A team of physicists and engineers at Resonant designed the RF filter that can improve 5G data rates by more than 20%.
“If you think about lanes on a highway and the little bumps in the middle of the road that keep you in the right lane, think about those little bumps being fences so you can’t actually leave the lane. That’s what a filter is,” George Holmes, Resonant CEO, told the News-Press. “When you look at our cell phones and think about how many different signals are coming into that phone, these little fences are what keep the signals going to the right part of your phone.”
The first iPhone that came out in 2007 only had around six filters, and the most recent iPhone that’s been released has more than 60 of them.
Mr. Holmes said these filters regulate signals for everything, from GPS signals to Apple Pay to Bluetooth signals to Wi-Fi signals. Without them, the devices can’t function.
The Resonant team’s job is to design these filters, and they do so for the largest players in the industry, such as Broadcom Inc. and Qualcomm.
“If you take those companies and look at what they’re trying to accomplish, we help them do what they do faster, better and cheaper than they could do themselves,” Mr. Holmes said.
The start-up also has a solid advisory board, with members representing Microsoft, Texas Instruments, Inc., Invoca, Inc., Qualcomm and including a former VP of Engineering at Apple.
“It’s great to have these guys that are pillars in the industry participating with us,” Mr. Holmes said. “We’re the only company of its kind to bring these people together under one roof. Ultimately, they compete with one another in the marketplace.
“We’re kind of like Switzerland — they want to put their time in on this little start-up based in Goleta.”
That Goleta-based start-up recently validated its filter design, a milestone that will lead to mass production of these key critical 5G RF filters.
“One of the hardest things to do when you’re building a new device is prove the technology works, prove you can build it and prove that it’s reliable. We’ve done those three things,” the CEO said.
He attributed Resonant’s success to his team of “some of the best guys in the industry,” holding 16 or 17 PhDs in physics and more than 40 advanced engineering degrees.
Mass production remains far in the distance, and Mr. Holmes said the company is looking at implementation at the end of 2021 into the beginning of 2022. According to the CEO, “Old tech never dies and new tech takes a long time to come into play.”
However, while distant, the benefits of this design will be meaningful for the consumers when the time comes.
“Ultimately, for consumers, an interesting little start-up in Santa Barbara has developed some fundamental technology that they’ve licensed to the biggest people on the planet that operate in that space,” Mr. Holmes said. “It’s been validated and it’s going to change your user experience down the road when using your phone.”