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Using smart antenna technology for Smart Terminals

Using Smart Antenna Technology for Smart Terminals

A market leader of all-in-one Smart Terminals™, JAOtech, who are now incorporated by Barco, are a leading manufacturer of patient entertainment and point-of-care terminals for hospitals. They needed to ensure that its solution provided an effective user interaction that worked reliably, every time. JAOtech’s Smart Terminal technology is installed in hospitals and clinics worldwide enabling hospital patients to access information via a Smart Terminal all done wirelessly at a patient’s bedside.

Patients can access Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and innovative triple-play solutions such as IPTV, VoIP and web access for entertainment, with doctors having access to medical records such as x-rays and other patient information. Smart Terminals are used across many industries including healthcare, retail and the hospitality industry.

“We are very happy with the performance of Taoglas’ PC-11 – it gives greater device performance and sensitivity across the entire hospital WiFi network.” — Philip Corri, Asian Operations Director, JAOtech.


Getting the Best Performance

Philip Corri, the Asian Operations Director for JAOtech wanted the Smart Terminal to access information through a hospitals’ WiFi system with a consistent, reliable connection. The Smart Terminal is a communication LCD terminal with a computer screen and telephone attached in one unit. In a hospital room, it is located near a patient’s bed. It has a keyboard, which gives patients full wireless access to the Internet and a phone for telephone services.

The Smart Terminal is designed to incorporate all the functionality at the back of the screen including the motherboard, the terminal electronics and the camera. Added to this, the back of the device is shielded with metal, which has to be waterproof and have a special shield to stop germs being transmitted in the hospital.

“With all of this technology in one location behind the screen, it does not leave much space for the antenna,” commented Philip Corri. “When we were reviewing the performance of the Smart Terminal, we had tried other antennas but they didn’t work very well. They did not give me the performance I wanted.” JAOtech spoke with Ronan Quinlan, Taoglas Director, and asked him to come up with a solution to the problem.

Terminal Challenges

Quinlan evaluated the situation and came up with a custom-tuned antenna, the PC-11, a dual band 2.4-5.2 GHz, PCB dipole antenna. It uses the open WiFi system and is flexible, so that it can be stuck directly on the terminal housing. It gives a better connection to the WiFi network, greater sensitivity especially in low signal areas and higher data throughput rates.

“We met some challenges finding the right solution for this device,” said Quinlan. “We had to find space in the device for the antenna to work effectively. The whole back of the device is shielded with metal, and metal is notorious for detuning antennas. Metal also affects the ability of the antenna to function properly. Added to this, there was very little space for the antenna to radiate.”

“The solution we came up with was based on the 802.11n standard, which is a multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) system. This means we upgraded from a one-antenna to a two-antenna system. The result of this was that the terminal got higher speed data rates. In doing this, we increased the antenna efficiency from 20% to 45% efficiency, which gives a significant impact to the performance of the Smart Terminal.

There are no set standards for device performance in the WiFi market, so Taoglas tested the PC-11 antenna within the Smart Terminal for WiFi performance. The tests showed that the PC-11 was optimized for JAOtech’s device with the farthest range of connection and the best data throughput.

A Clean Bill of Health for the PC-11

What’s the impact? “The Smart Terminal now works farther away from the wireless routers in the hospital,” said Corri. “The benefit of this is that hospitals do not need to install as many expensive routers because one router can cover a lot more LCD terminals. The terminal itself can now be positioned farther away from the router.

Rooms that were not connected before can now access the wireless system. The bottom line is that hospitals can now have full WiFi access cheaper and more efficiently. It also opens up the possibility of real time video transmission and streaming on the terminal.”

“At the end of the day, improved WiFi means improved connection and a better experience for people in hospitals. We are very happy with the performance of Taoglas’ PC-11 – it gives greater device performance and sensitivity across the entire hospital WiFi network.” said Corri.

Quinlan agrees. “We optimized the performance of the Smart Terminal with the PC-11 antenna and JAOtech has now taken a leap forward over their competitors with a fully optimized wireless solution. The relationship between Taoglas and JAOtech combines JAOtech’s leadership in Smart Terminals and Taoglas’ leadership in wireless antennas. That’s a win-win situation for everybody.

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