A colleague was looking the new design of the Apple Airport Extreme and he asked me why it was designed this peculiar way rather than the usual slick and slim box.
I took a quick at the specifications and caught the keywords – Beamforming.
Beamforming is an advance wireless technology. Put simply, it enhances wireless performance significantly by having antenna arrays i.e. group of antennas. I first encountered this technology when I was using WiMAX deployment years back. With beamforming and we could achieve extremely stable non-Line Of Sight wireless connections. Subsequently, the technology started to appear in consumer devices in the form of MIMO. I didn’t dive deep into those, but I think the common ones were 3 antenna systems. The WiMAX systems I worked with had 8 antennas.
For Apple, I couldn’t find information on the number of antennas they have on the array, but I read somewhere that it’s an array of 6 antennas. From the looks of the new design, I think it’s highly likely to be true. I guess we can continue to expect Apple to come out quality engineering to improve product usability and experience.
*Update : Confirmed by iFixit, there are 6 antennas in the device. Read it from iFixit. But that also means that the array is not the direct influence on the new design. :)