March 23, 2015
Here’s the video transcript from a recent Denver Post TV segment, filmed in BluFlux’ OTA Testing Chamber.
Read the full story by Denver Post tech reporter Tamara Chuang here.
BluFlux Boosts Cellphone Signal by Two Bars
Tamara Chuang: “Hello, I’m Tamara Chuang, technology reporter here at the Denver Post. A few weeks ago I wrote about a local company working on a technology to improve your cell signal by at least two bars.
“BluFlux in Louisville received a US patent for a special case to boost your phone signal. Today BluFlux is going to show us how it works. Joining me know over Skype is Ben Wilmhoff, the president and founder of BluFlux. Hi, Ben!”
Ben Wilmhoff: “Good morning.”
TC: “Can you tell us about this new case?”
BW: “Yeah, thank you. So the idea behind the product is that typically, the user of a cellphone, their body – their head and their hands – has a profound impact on the performance of their mobile device. What that means is that most of the energy – and I do mean most of the energy – coming to and from a cellphone is absorbed by the user’s head and the user’s hand.
“So the idea behind our product is to mitigate that absorption, to mitigate that loss. And by doing that, we gain back the performance of the mobile device, meaning we add bars to the cellphone signal strength. So for the user what that means is, if you’ve got an area where you typically experience poor cell signals – there’s a route that you take to and from work where you typically drop calls – this product will help overcome that problem.”
TC: “So when you’re in an area where there’s poor signal, how would the case work?”
BW: “The idea behind our product is that we’ve got an antenna that’s mounted inside a cellphone case as you can see here. And when you’re in an area where you typically experience dropped calls, it’s really simple to pull this antenna out, and deploy it, and even when you’re in your home and you want to use it as a mobile hotspot, you can even sit it down on its base and stick [the antenna] up like this so you get a faster Wi-Fi data link.
“Instead of having energy radiate into your head and into your hands, when I hold my phone up next to my head, our product will cause radiation to come from a different point in space, eliminating the absorption and the interaction with the human body. So here in our OTA test chamber I’ve got “Todd” – our test dummy – and Todd has our product installed in his right hand, up next to his head.
“We’re actually running through what would typically be a test of our product inside our anechoic test chamber. And you can see that, when Todd is talking, the antenna is deployed. It’s a very small antenna – it’s a very small product. It’s quite easy to use and stows up in the case in a way that makes it really easy to carry in a purse or in a pocket. But when you’re in an area where you typically experience dropped calls, it’s really simple to deploy that antenna from the back of the case.”
TC: “Well, Ben, you were going to do a test run for us, and show us how it actually improves the signal?”
BW: “So here in BluFlux’ anechoic, OTA test chamber. The idea behind this chamber is that the metal walls on the outside block cellphone signals and other radiation from coming in and from interfering from our test. On the inside of our OTA test chamber you can see that there’s this blue foam on the walls. The idea behind this blue foam is that it absorbs energy coming from the device that is being tested, so that the device looks like it’s being tested in free space.”
“Our test dummy Todd has the product installed up next to his head. We can turn Todd all the way around, and sample the energy or measure the energy coming out of the phone in all points in space.
“By the way our test chamber – our facility – is set up to test not just cellphones but all kinds of devices that would connect to a cellular network. Internet of Things, wearables, connected car devices, M2M or machine-to-machine. This large ring of antennas is actually sampling and measuring the energy coming out of the phone or connected device.
“What we’re looking at here is a measurement of the energy that’s coming out of the cellphone. The screen that you’re looking at has what we call a waveform. That waveform is specific to the type of phone you use, to the cellular carrier that you’re using. In this case, with our new product in use, we would typically see about a 10dB increase in the magnitude of that waveform over all of space.
“That sounds like a scientific and technical number so what we’ve done is we’ve calculated – what kind of increase do I actually need to increase bars? And it turns out that a 10db increase is what it takes to increase your phone signal strength by two bars. So this product pretty reliably adds two bars to your signal strength.”
TC: “So is that doing it right now?”
BW: “Yes, it’s doing it right now. We’re actually measuring- as we speak – we’re measuring the radiation coming out of the phone – on Todd our test dummy – with our new cellphone case installed.
“The device you are looking at is called a base station emulator. It emulates – or simulates – a cellphone tower talking to the cellphone that’s installed in our OTA test chamber.”
TC: “Ok. So the yellow signal is the improved signal that you’re getting with the case?”
BW: “That’s right. The yellow signal is the enhanced waveform that’s being transmitted by the phone.”
TC: “And without the case, where would that yellow signal be? Two boxes down?”
BW: “Without the case the yellow signal would be about at this line down here, which is a pretty significant change. And in fact, we’ve got some data over here on this screen that shows what this energy looks like in all of space. So because these tests take a pretty long time – we don’t want to sit here and wait to do it twice – one with the case and one without the case.
“So what we’ve done is we’ve pulled out some data that we took on an actual live person – believe it or not. On the left side of the screen what we’re looking at is the energy coming out of the cellphone when a user is holding it up next to their head, in their hand. And we can see that’s it has some funny shapes to it – it has some dark cool spots which means those are areas where energy is being lost.
“Now we go over to the right – this is the exact same phone, taken on the exact same day, same person, same configuration, but with one pretty significant difference: our signal boosting cellphone case is installed.
“These cool blue spots are the gone. And what we see is a lot more energy coming out of the phone. The overall improvement that we see here is about 10 dB, which, on the left here, we’ve shown that 10db equals about 2 bars for certain kinds of phones – particularly the two most popular devices that Americans use.”
TC: “So Ben when are we going to see your cases at local stores?”
BW: “BluFlux is working with a couple of different companies right now, a couple of different partners, to commercialize the technology. We’re thinking by the end of this year – perhaps even at CES you’ll see some of this technology show up.”
TC: “Ben thanks so much. Thanks for joining us today. That was Ben Wilmhoff, with BluFlux RF Technologies in Louisville. Thanks for your time, Ben.
“BluFlux’ special cases could be available to consumers as soon as 2016. To read more in depth about BluFlux, read the Tech+ Blog at DPO.ST/Tech. You’ll find extra tech coverage on local companies plus other fun stuff.
“Thanks for watching today’s Tech+ report, I’m Tamara Chuang with Denver Post TV.”