A Revolution in a Can

Imagine a world where cellular broadband is available everywhere – no dead spots due to geography or lack of infrastructure. Can’t happen, you’re probably thinking. No company is going to expend that much money bringing cell phone towers to remote, sparsely populated sections of the country, let alone the world.

And you’re right. No company probably would – but what if you could? Thanks to an amazing new invention cell phone reception anywhere could be as easy as using a can of spray paint. Only instead of graffiti you’d be spraying on an antenna.

Perhaps I ought to back up.

Chamtech Operations is a company that sells spray on antennas. Stop laughing. It sounds like an April fool’s prank or something you’d buy at a joke store. But really, Chamtech’s patented spray on antenna technology could possibly change the world.

In a recent talk at the Solve for X conference CEO Anthony Sutera discussed their spray made of tiny capacitors using nanotechnology. Initially conceived to help soldiers in the field obtain enough antenna range to help them out in a pickle, the spray turned out to perform even better than predicted. Sutera discusses several tests and their results in his presentation. The video is over eleven minutes, but is worth watching all the way to the end.

The results he discusses are amazing, and the implications and possibilities for the future of many industries are staggering. For instance they’ve done preliminary tests evaluating the ability of the spray to pull energy from the atmosphere, effectively making it possible to put the antennas anywhere - without the need for a power source. Uses for such a product extend from the military down to including it in standard hiking gear. If you get lost or need backup just paint it on a tree and call for help. Seems silly. Unbelievable in fact. But it exists today.

They are also exploring the ability to improve efficiency of any electric motor or even the entire power grid. If the spray works sufficiently well, we could see an end to rolling blackouts during peak summer months, or significant reductions in electricity costs. The last two points are extrapolations from the content of Sutera’s talk. He certainly didn’t make those predictions, but it is fun to imagine what a spray can could do.

What was your first thought when you heard about the spray on antenna? If you watched the video can you see any other possibilities for the technology?