Santa Clara chip start-up Quellan says it has figured out a way to clean up weak wireless signals in a way that could dramatically improve reception for cell phones vulnerable to electronic interference. Notably, it will help restore signals in the notorious dead zone on Sand Hill Road, home to Silicon Valley’s venture capital firms.
This, according to a good summary of the company in the Mercury News by chip reporter Dean Takahashi. It is hard to tell, though, how well the product works, because no customer are mentioned. The company has been around since 2001, but its latest strategy to boost cell reception is relatively recent. Last year, the company said it planned to hit profitability this year. We have checked with the company to see how it is doing, and will update when we hear back.
Its technology comes at a good time: Motorola’s RAZR phone has 13 radios in it, for example, underscoring how phones are getting ever more sophisticated. These various radios are creating distortion, but Quellan can help deal with that:
That is, the chips “listen” to a signal at the source where it originates. Then it detects the signal that arrives in the receiver. Noting the difference, it mathematically cancels the pattern of the noise by sending the exact opposite pattern, dubbed subtraction, that serves as an antidote wave. With the noise subtracted, all that remains is the cleaned-up signal.
The company tells Takahashi it has raised $23 million “in the past year” from Menlo Ventures, Samsung and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing. We’re in the process of confirming this. If true, the company has raised more than $40 million (Caution: It has raised $22.5 million between 2001 and September of last year, so we’re wondering if the reference to a more recent $23 million may have been a misunderstanding, and may just be referring to the amount raised previously).