Kymeta, the Redmond, Washington firm developing metamaterials-based flat-panel antennas for satellite communications, has successfully demonstrated bi-directional high-speed Internet connectivity with a Ka broadband satellite. It is the first time a metamaterials-based antenna has established an Internet connection over a satellite link.

The company—for which former Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is a key investor—says the demonstration shows they ready to move into commercial product development and production. Speaking exclusively to SuperyachtNews.com, the firm confirmed that they now expect to introduce their products to the superyacht market in 2015.

“The Kymeta technology has not been tested on a yacht yet, with its unique motion characteristics,” said Håkan Olsson, senior director of marketing for Kymeta. “The automatic acquisition and fast tracking of the electronically steered antennas will need to be thoroughly tested before we can go to market with a solid and reliable product. But realistically, we will likely have some early prototypes in late 2014 to start testing on yachts, and we will build in significant testing in multiple locations into the schedule to ensure reliable operation of the system on a global basis. We target a 2015 market introduction.”



Kymeta’s flat panel technology will enable broadband antennas flush-mounted to the superstructure, effectively ending the visible domes mounted in the rig of sailing yachts or highly populated antenna arrays. As well as offering a significant aesthetic improvement, the technology reduces weight, resulting in lower centre of gravity and lower windage. The flat panels, (which are not “phased array”) are solid state—there are no moving parts—thus requiring much less power than current satellite antennas, and should reduce satcom maintenance costs.

Kymeta, which was was named by both MIT Technology Review and CNBC as one of 2013’s 50 most disruptive companies, has a memorandum of understanding with superyacht market communications specialists E3 Systems.

“Based on the feedback we received from yacht designers, owners, captains, ETOs as well as ship builders and refit centers at the industry events we have shown the Kymeta concepts, I think it is safe to say this technology will transform the yachting design as large domes and their significant support structures will no longer be needed for communications or entertainment on yachts,” said Roger Horner, group managing director of E3 Systems.

“Due to the considerable interest we have had some owners/builds asked if they could be the first with the new antenna,” Horner said. “We have been considering this and in the new year we will be willing to take ‘elite pre-orders’ for those who want to be the first with a dome less yacht but full broadband.”

“The ball is now in our court to deliver a reliable system that takes the communications and entertainment systems for yachting to the next level,” Olsson said.

“Seeing our research and development efforts culminate in this successful bi-directional satellite connection is like a dream come true,” said Dr. Nathan Kundtz, Founder and CTO of Kymeta. “Our engineering team has worked many late hours to accomplish the demonstration, and it is a testament not only to our technology but also to our team of talented individuals working at Kymeta.”



The demonstration was held on December 10, 2013 at Telesat’s teleport in Vancouver, B.C., using Ka-band capacity on Telesat’s Anik F2 satellite. The completion of the demonstration required obtaining regulatory certifications for Ka-band transmissions, made possible through collaboration with Telesat. iDirect provided the modem technologies used in the demonstration. After initial tests of bi-directional Internet connectivity and video streaming via the Kymeta transceiver equipment, the team also launched a bi-directional Skype video call from a laptop at the demonstration site to Kymeta’s corporate headquarters in Redmond, Wash., where a team celebration was held.

“This is a tremendous milestone for our company,” said Vern Fotheringham, Chairman and CEO of Kymeta. “This successful demonstration proves that our technology is ready for commercial production, and we’re excited to move full steam ahead to develop transformative products and solutions for fixed, portable and mobile applications.”

Kymeta is expected to have prototype units ready for field trials in 2014 with initial availability of commercial products in early 2015.

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