Antennas: The unsung heroes of the GNSS industry

February 22, 2016  - By
Image: GPS World

By Tracy Cozzens
Managing Editor

Antennas. When I was a kid, antennas meant the pair of rabbit ears sitting on top of the family TV set. We had to constantly adjust the angles to get the best reception, using aluminum foil to improve the signal.

Wow, how things have changed. Today, consumer users of smartphones, Fitbits, smartwatches, tablets and a hundred other electronic devices don’t even think about antennas. Most consumers probably haven’t given a thought to the fact that their favorite device contains an antenna.

Unlike broadcast antennas back in the day, modern GNSS antennas in consumer devices are invisible to the consumer, but perform even in less-than-ideal conditions. Every year brings new improvements and smaller sizes.

Then there are the external antennas, which grow more rugged to withstand the elements while receiving more signals from more constellations, such as BeiDou and Galileo.

GPS World has traditionally published its Antenna Survey in February following the Receiver Survey in January. The first antenna survey appeared in 2001, nine years after we published our first receiver survey. Perhaps it took a few years to realize how critical antennas are in GNSS systems.

As usual, the Antenna Survey encapsulates the important specifications on dozens of antennas, from stand-alone designs for high-precision commercial, defense and timing applications to micro antennas for integration into a variety of smartphones, UAVs and automobiles.

This year, 30 antenna manufacturers provide all the details on their products. Check out the 20-page survey supplement, sponsored this year by NovAtel.

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.