It is a clear trend that technology innovation will continue to evolve at a faster rate in the upcoming days. This is particularly evident in communications, as RF and microwave technologies are becoming significant in our daily lives.
Radio frequency (RF) technology is vital in various aspects of modern electronics. This is because RF engineering is integrated in the transmission and receiving of radio waves all over the RF spectrum, which includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, radios, and mobile phones.
With the popularity of the Internet of Things (IoT) and even more advanced wireless connectivity, it is expected that there will be more demand for RF engineering jobs and RF specialists. Generally, these specializations can be found in various areas:
- Managing coverage on antennas and transmissions
- Receiving or generating signals from transmissions toward other communication systems
- Checking and assessing the performance of radio frequency systems and devices
Today, RF engineers and RF designers work with different devices such as modulators, switches, oscillators, phase and amplitude detectors, attenuators, filters, directional couplers, amplifiers, etc.
We can see that RF technology has been used in various applications in our daily lives, such as wireless home security systems, biological signal acquisition systems, access control systems, digital audio/video transmission, wireless charging, and a lot more. Now, let’s explore the future of the RF industry as well as the forthcoming trends in RF technologies.
The Latest Developments in the Radio Frequency Industry
If you have been a great follower of radio frequency technology, then you are likely aware of the 5G revolution, which is considered one of the greatest changes in the industry. With the emergence of 5G networks, consumers can enjoy much better performance and speed, which is impressively higher than in the past.
With more and more people embracing the advent of smartphone technology worldwide, there will be more demand for data as well as bandwidth ranges. To meet the new challenges, running below 6 GHZ would be deemed insufficient.
When 5G was first tested publicly, it yielded an outstanding speed of 10 gigabytes per second, running up to 73 GHz. This means that 5G offers lightning coverage at microwave frequencies. Previously, these frequencies were only used for satellite and military applications.
With the launch of the Internet of Things (IoT), there will be endless possibilities. The Internet of Things (IoT) consists of enormous physical devices all over the world that are using the Internet to share and collect information. This enhances the level of intelligence in our devices, allowing them to transmit real-time data without human intervention, efficiently blending both the physical and digital worlds.
We are already using our smartphones and other devices in our daily lives. We use them for keeping in touch with our family and friends, organizing our daily routines, updating ourselves with current situations, and many more. But what if these devices can be used to improve the world around us?
With the consolidation of smartphone functionality and IoT, we can have a more convenient and easier life. For instance, by using smart doorbells, you can see who is at the door before opening it. This is done by connecting to your smartphone remotely.
It is also important to note that future mobile network technology will no longer revolve around humans; instead, it will be run by machines. Cisco reveals that smart devices refer to those that are using more advanced computing technologies as well as multimedia functionalities, provided that they have at least 3G network connectivity. It is expected that the growth of smart devices will continue to rise globally in different regions.
Improvements in Electronic Warfare (EW) Technology
Electronic welfare (EW) refers to the utilization of electromagnetic energy and directing energy to manage the electromagnetic spectrum. Large defense contractors integrate a greater amount of EW technology into their products.
A great example would be Lockheed-Martin, wherein advanced EW abilities are featured in their new F-35 fighter, which gives them the chance to suppress radar, jam the frequencies, and many more.
Most of these advanced EW systems use low-noise amplifiers (LNA), gallium-nitride (GaN) devices, and many more to satisfy the demand for power requirements.
In addition, the utilization of unmanned vehicles on the sea, in the air, and on land will also rise, along with the requirement for modern RF solutions for effective communication and management of these machines on highly secure networks.
It is also anticipated that there will be an increase in the demand for advanced RF and MF solutions to be used for satellite communications (SATCOM), both in the military department and the commercial sector. The worldwide Wi-Fi project from SpaceX is probably one of the most ambitious projects that requires more advanced RF engineering.
It will need more than 4,000 satellites in orbit to provide wireless internet to people around the world. It will utilize frequencies between 10 GHz and 30 GHz, particularly in the Ku and Ka-band ranges. It is foreseen that in the future, there will be more demand for radio frequency and more knowledge of microwave engineering. Furthermore, the industry will continue to grow and evolve.
The Autonomous Vehicles
Autonomous vehicles are made possible due to several technologies, such as executable software, powerful processors, advanced algorithms, sensors, actuators, and much more. In an autonomous vehicle, sensors and actuators belong to three major categories, including managing internal systems, driving, and safety, as well as navigation and guidance.
For guidance and navigation, it uses a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver, which calculates the current location based on a complicated analysis of RF signals obtained from at least four of the constellations.
A GPS can provide a precise location. The guidance and navigation subsystems must be active and verify the location of the vehicle. For instance, if there are any unexpected diversions on the original route, then it will be recalculated in real time to provide the correct direction.
Since this is a driverless car, it must be able to identify what is in front and at the back when going forward or reversing. It requires a 360-degree view and utilizes a LIDAR system (light and radar) for its vision.
For managing close-in encounters, such as when lane-changing, parking, or during bumper-to-bumper traffic, there should be radars installed at the sides of the vehicle as well as in the rear and front bumpers. These radars typically operate at a frequency of 77 GHz, which has excellent RF propagation features and offers sufficient resolution.
Most RF and Microwave Technologies Will Move the Industry Forward
Generally, the RF and microwave industries will keep moving towards technologies that have advanced levels of flexibility and integration so that these sub-systems can be used in multiple ways.
Aside from reducing the cost, reusability can also accelerate time to market. Manufacturers can enable quick reconfiguration and lower risks when they reuse the same software and hardware and, at the same time, have accumulated enough engineering knowledge on various platforms.
Reinvention of Antennas and RF
Technology companies and manufacturers of antennas play a vital role in adopting the new 5G standards and guaranteeing that these devices are compatible with the new networks. The latest 5G modeling software will enable technology companies to test designs as well as simulations so that costs can be reduced.
Prioritize Research and Development
As the relevance of 5G continues, service providers, component manufacturers, and other essential companies will be forced to control their costs and business models. 5G offers improvements with regard to data capacity; nevertheless, it comes with the cost of additional equipment complexity.
For your RF and microwave products, you can find them all at SEI. If you have inquiries, then you can email us at [email protected].