everything RF recently interviewed Dan Klaeren, the General Manager of Ignion (previously Fractus Antennas) in the Americas. In this interview, we talk with Dan about the rebranding of Fractus Antennas to Ignion and learn more about their product portfolio and business.
Q. Can you give us a brief history of Ignion?
Dan Klaeren: Although the Ignion brand is new, the history of the company is rich in tradition, innovation and success, including over 25M antenna units shipped to customers around the world. The company was founded by the inventors of the Virtual Antenna™ Technology, each of whom are widely recognized in the RF industry as true innovators with a track record of amazing success.
Q. What made you change your name from Fractus Antennas to Ignion?
Dan Klaeren: The Ignion name rebranding took place in March of 2021 as part of a corporate growth plan, when the company was then known as Fractus Antennas. We are very proud of our Fractus Antennas name and its heritage. However, we believe that the combination of Ignite + Ion resulting in Ignion better projects our desire: To accelerate innovation. We are more than an antenna company. We are your partner and path to the best RF performance possible.
Q. Can you tell us more about Virtual Antenna™ technology? What are its advantages over existing antenna technology or custom antenna solutions?
Dan Klaeren: The patented Virtual Antenna™ technology is truly unique in the industry. At the highest level, this technology enables custom antenna performance using standard, off-the-shelf technology. What it offers to the market is the ability to more rapidly and easily design integrated antenna solutions for just about any type of device, regardless of band, device size or use case. Let’s face it, custom antennas will always have optimal performance. After all, they are “custom” to a device. However, custom antennas can have a costly design fee and if you change something about the design, you most likely need to redesign that customer antenna. Off the shelf antennas are, in theory, easier, to incorporate but can be a gamble. Virtual Antenna™ has the best of both. Custom performance capabilities specific to your device from a standard, off-the-shelf and pick and place product.
Q. Can you explain the integration process of Ignion antennas into an IoT Module vs the conventional approach? What are the steps involved? How does it compare in terms of performance?
Dan Klaeren: Our solution is truly ideal for use in IoT Module and showcases both our simplicity and ability to get maximum performance while reducing risk. The beauty of an IoT Module is that they are immediately available on the market and eliminate the required design time if you were to use a conventional approach. However, one size does not always fit all scenarios and there are times when customers need to make modifications, or maybe the planned module is a part of a wider system. Each of which could impact the RF performance. Traditional resonate antennas have limited or no flexibility in tuning capability.
With the Virtual Antenna™ technology, you can easily tune the performance through simple modifications of the matching network without having to modify any other aspects of the design.
The result is custom antenna performance, off the shelf. The impact is that a module maker who incorporates our Virtual Antenna™ technology in their designs will have a unique differentiator in the market over their competition. The steps are simple: Submit a Fast Track form, receive the design recommendations and then populate the rest of the design with confidence in know what the expected performance before ever building a prototype.
Q. What market segments are you currently targeting? Which segment has got the most traction for you?
Dan Klaeren: Because the unique nature of the Virtual Antenna™ technology there is nearly no limits to segments or use cases. I will say among the most ideal examples include those looking to transition from an external antenna design to an internal design to prevent challenges such as antenna placement and/or field breakage or those looking to make small, sleek devices. Think of consumer products such as wearables and smart home devices. Non-consumer examples include the likes of asset trackers, remote control modules, sensors and metering units.
Q. Can all Ignion antennas be used for Wi-Fi 6/6E?
Dan Klaeren: The Virtual Antenna™ technology is ideal of Wi-Fi. We have solutions that cover from high performance edge devices such as access points to consumer handheld streaming devices to small sized smart home devices, such as smart plus or controllers. In fact, we just announced the launch of our newest product, the NANO mXTEND™. This super small Virtual Antenna™ component packs tremendous performance in 3 X 2 .08 mm size. That is amazing!
Q. What is your product roadmap for the next few years? Do you have any new product launches planned? What can users expect?
Dan Klaeren: Our product roadmap is centered upon reducing both complexity in RF designs and space requirements in devices to enable designers to keep up with the market. Consumers and enterprises continue to raise their expectations of purchasing the latest technology that is sleek, reliable and high performing. As such we will continue to reduce our product size, increase performance and adapt to technology trends.
Q. Can you tell us more about your sales strategy? Do you sell direct to the customer or work with distributors and partners? In terms of sales, what is the geographic breakdown of sales for Ignion?
Dan Klaeren: At Ignion, we sell exclusively through our distributors. By doing this we remove “sales pressure”, delivery and logistics from our team, enabling them to work directly with customers to design solutions according to our customer needs. That is what is most important to us, the success of our customers. If our customers are succeeding in the market, our company with naturally grow through that success and referrals. We have sales teams and engineers around the world including North America, Europe, Asia and India to ensure our customer success.
Q. Have Ignion products been integrated into reference designs? Can you tell us some reference designs that use these antennas?
Dan Klaeren: I am proud to say that we are in multiple reference designs, of which I continually receive positive feedback from. The latest examples include the Generic Node from The Things Industries, the Thingy:91 from Nordic Semiconductor, the mangOH Yellow by Sierra Wireless, the NEKTAR-B from Sequans Communications or the P-Series by Cavli Wireless.
Q. Let's talk about growth. How has the company grown over the last few years? Can you give some details?
Dan Klaeren: As a privately held company, I cannot disclose specifics. But I can say we continue to grow year over year. So much so we are executing upon a significant growth plan that includes the Ignion rebranding, the opening of the United States offices, staff expansion and upgrading our anechoic chamber. All within the last year. And… we have just started.
Q. With an unexpected global pandemic, the last year was challenging for many companies. How was 2020 for Ignion?
Dan Klaeren: From the human perspective, 2020 was rough on everyone. Regardless of industry, location or any other factor. With that perspective in mind, we were able to quickly adjust to working remotely as much as possible while continuing to have limited staff to the office for technical work that is required in the anechoic chamber, for example. I am very proud of the team’s efforts and despite the challenges, we continued to grow. Because our products are made of substrate is glass epoxy (FR4-PCB) there was no disruption or challenges within our supply chain. At the moment our greatest hurdle is our customers are often waiting on the availability of parts unrelated to our solutions, but that is totally out of our control. Once the other customer parts become available, they will move to high volume manufacturing, we expect even more accelerated growth.
Q. What are Ignion's plans for the next 3 years?
Dan Klaeren: Two major focus areas: Innovation and Awareness. Innovation in turns of creating and evolving our products to exceed our customer expectations while simplify the lives of our customers. Awareness in terms of getting our message out there. As new and revolutionary concept, we need to make designers aware of our great technology. We do those and good things will come.
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