BMW Introduces a Cellular Signal Amplifier at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress

BMW Vehicular small cell 1 photo
Photo: bmw
Ever happened to drive so far outside the city that you’d run out of signal on your mobile phone? I know, it rarely happens these days and yet BMW thinks that you should be protected from such issues in the 21st century. Therefore, they teamed up with some specialists in the field and created a sort of cellular signal amplifier that would help out.
They call it the ‘Vehicular Small Cell’ research project and its aim is to improve the mobile reception inside your car, at all times. In this endeavor, BMW is joined by peiker acustic GmbH & Co. KG and Nash Technologies GmbH and their findings are being presented at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona starting today until Thursday.

It’s not completely surprising that we’re using our mobile phones and tablets more and more these days and yes, they can go out of range sometimes but that phenomenon is so rare these days that this invention seems rather pointless.

The same devices have been in use for quite some time now, mostly in remote locations or buildings that have concrete walls and have a tendency of blocking out cell signal. Dubbed a femtocell, this is a mini cellular base station that is typically used indoors and not on cars.

BMW is however breaking new ground here as no other manufacturer tried to fit a femtocell to a car before. The reasons for avoiding such a contraption include radiation but the Germans claim that this won’t be a problem because on their cars the system will be using the vehicle’s aerial to reduce electromagnetic resonance.

The biggest advantage of using such a contraption, however, is that all devices inside the car will connect to it and get a bump in reception. That, in turn, leads to less interrupted phone calls and a better connectivity. It all sounds good in theory but its real-life uses might be limited.

According to Dr. Peter Fertl, the Project Manager that overlooked the creation of this device, “the ‘Vehicular Small Cell’ will allow [our] customers to enjoy uninterrupted in-car usage of all mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and other connected devices of the future – even when driving through areas with poor cellular coverage.”
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