WASHINGTON — Kymeta will finally start shipping its first flat-panel antennas this spring, some five years after Microsoft founder Bill Gates first opened his wallet to help the startup bring thin, lightweight, low-power antennas to a satellite market hungry for mobility solutions.
The Redmond, Washington-based startup has raised $144 million since spinning off from Intellectual Ventures in 2012. Among customers awaiting Kymeta’s May release of its flat, beam-steering antenna system are Panasonic, Toyota, and armored car company Aurum Security.
Kymeta delayed its product release by about two years after discovering in 2015 that the rectangular antenna design it was working on at the time couldn’t send and receive signals with a single aperture, but would need two, driving up size and cost. The rectangular design also couldn’t leverage existing liquid crystal display manufacturing infrastructure, which would have made them more expensive to build, Bill Marks, chief commercial officer of Kymeta, told SpaceNews.
Kymeta teamed with electronics manufacturer Sharp Corp. in 2015 to mass produce its metamaterials-based antennas on the same product lines used to make LCD television sets. The circular design Kymeta chose instead rectified those issues, Marks said, and can reach downlink speeds greater than 100Mbps.
Kymeta’s antennas use ...