Flish technology could make satellite dishes obsolete

5 Oct 2011

NISP Connect director Steve Orr with Dr Neil Buchanan from Flish and Clare Guinness, regional business manager, Bank of Ireland UK

A team called Flish from Queen’s University Belfast has developed a low-cost, low-power antenna capable of picking up satellite signals automatically, which has won it the overall title at the NISP Connect £25K Awards.

The innovative equipment developed by Flish is a high-gain antenna which has the ability to ‘point’ to distant signals, such as a satellite. It does not need to be aligned, like a satellite dish, and has no moving parts.

“We have worked in conjunction with the European Space Agency to fine tune our unique analogue circuit design and have been able to produce an end product that is more power efficient, lighter and less costly than anything else currently available,” said Neil Buchanan from Flish.

The product enables satellite dishes to be replaced with flat panels on walls or roof tiles that need no set-up or calibration. It will have particular relevance to the commercial satellite broadband market with the long-term aim of replacing the cumbersome domestic satellite dishes.

It also has potential application in transportation as it can fit around the curves of vehicles or aircraft. The more compact antenna which has the ability to point to a signal in milliseconds has further application in the military and disaster relief market when a team may only have minutes to set up a life saving video link, according to Flish.

Global market potential

“The global market value of antennas was estimated to be $10.1bn in 2009 and expected to increase to $13.3bn in 2014. We believe our innovation has the potential to be a real game changer for the industry,” said Buchanan.

“We plan to capitalise on our learning experiences from the £25Ks to seek funding to see the business through to profitability.”

The Flish team won £13,000 as overall winners of the technology entrepreneur awards, which are sponsored by the Bank of Ireland UK, QUB, University of Ulster and Agri Food and Biosciences Institute and supported by NI’s Health and Social Care Trusts.