Scottish start-up Sofant Technologies is showing off its smart antenna technology at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, after winning UK Trade & Investment's competition for “the world’s next big thing”.

Sofant has developed a miniature antenna for smartphones and tablet PCs, which it claims could make poor reception a thing of the past.

The company claims that its SmartAntenna technology consumes 90% less energy than conventional antennae, and could eradicate some of the biggest barriers to smartphone development including short battery life, dropped calls and poor signal quality.

The antenna features a steerable beam that locks onto the strongest signal available at any given time, rather than constantly looking for signals in all directions. This improves the rate of data transfer and provides a higher level of connectivity.

“Battery life and connectivity are key problems for the global mobile device market. Antennae account for 50% of power consumption when a device is on standby and even more during calls,” said Sergio Tansini, CEO of Sofant.

“Because antenna technology has barely moved in recent years the antenna continues to act as a bottleneck to data transfer. In reality this means that every new generation of smartphone actually performs less well than its predecessor.”

As well as doubling the battery life of mobile devices, Sofant claims that SmartAntenna reduces network congestion caused by weak signals and dropped connections, reducing the need for more base stations.

It also addresses other mobile device constraints including suitability for large numbers of frequency bands.

The designs for the tunable RF Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (RF-MEMS) modules and Sofant Intelligent Software can be licensed individually or as a single smart micro antenna system.

The company has already licensed an early technology demonstrator to a large OEM and claims to have attracted “considerable interest” from many leading manufacturers.