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The Fractal Antenna: Making Your Clothes Smart

March 13, 2017 By Molly White in

Based on fractal geometry, a new type of wearable antenna is attracting the attention of “smart” clothing and connected wearable industry players. Fractal Antenna Systems’ CEO says the company is working with customers to design and produce custom wearable tech for smart clothing that’s both durable and cost-effective.

Conventional wearable antennas have proved ill-suited when applied to clothing or next to the human body. In addition to insufficient flexibility when it comes to conforming with the body in motion, they “detune” and suffer when moistened by sweat and only provide narrow-band spectral coverage, the Bedford, Mass.-based company points out.

The Fractal Antenna

As the name indicates, Fractal Antenna Systems overcomes this by manufacturing antennas whose structure is identical when viewed from the macro down to micro scales. Their self-similar, fractal structure makes the antennas both flexible and durable enough to prevent “detuning” and provide wideband coverage. That makes them ideal for use in smart clothing and wearables, management says.

“Fractal antennas are becoming a big part of making clothing more than just a fashionable cover-up but an enabler for sensors and communication, keeping us all healthier and in-touch,” said Fractal Antenna CEO Nathan Cohen in a press release.

Fractal Antenna Systems points to results from over a dozen independent research studies that concluded fractal antennas are an excellent, and in many cases the sole, solution for smart clothing applications.

The global market for wearable technology grew 25% year-to-year in 2016 as unit shipments reached 102.4 million, according to a recently released market research report from IDC.