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Combined technology

Transceiver, tuner, and antenna in one unit

The Smart Antenna from Hirschmann Car Communication reduces the complexity of vehicle electronics. It is a transceiver, tuner, and antenna combined in a single unit.

With the antenna, multiple radio services are available centrally (Photo: Hirschmann)

WITH THE SMART ANTENNA, Hirschmann Car Communication (Germany) presents a technology that combines a transceiver, a tuner, and an antenna. According to the manufacturer, the antenna therefore fulfills the requirements of recent system architectures. It links a range of services including radio, GPS, mobile communication, eCall, TV and Car-to-X in one central point, outside of the head unit.

The antenna is controlled from the head unit and connected using only a digital bus system such as Most or Ethernet. CAN is also available. A direct connection can be established to smartphones and tablets via the WLAN and Bluetooth function.

"Our Smart Antenna offers automotive manufacturers an effective, basic technological structure that allows new standards, architectures and customer requirements for infotainment and communication services to be integrated in vehicles quickly, flexibly, and in a scalable manner", says Ludwig Geis, CEO of Hirschmann Car Communication. "It reduces complexity instead of increasing it. We have already conducted an extensive test program with a well-known automotive manufacturer, in which all of the customer requirements were successfully implemented."

The antenna connects to the CAN network; the manufacturer doesn't specify the system's security measures (Photo: Hirschmann)

The antenna consists of a roof antenna and a control device, which contains the tuner and the transceiver and is responsible for demodulating and decoding various radio services. The design reduces the in-car distances travelled by the analog HF signals between the antenna and the receiver, which improves the signal quality for passengers making telephone calls, listening to the radio, using the navigation function or watching television.

The direct signal processing and position on the vehicle roof are also suitable for receiving GHz signals for WLAN and Bluetooth connections, for example in Car-to-X communication. In addition, the bundling of functions at a central point does away with the need for coaxial cables and unnecessary interfaces in the car. If it is not possible for the control device and antenna to both be mounted on the roof in the same place (e.g. as is the case on convertibles), the components can be decoupled and positioned at different points.

Transfer of services from the head unit

The antenna performs the functions that were previously integrated in the head unit. Updating the radio standard no longer requires the entire head unit to be replaced. Thanks to its scalability, the antenna can be connected to a range of head unit variants. Furthermore, fewer country-specific head unit variants are required, which significantly reduces development costs.