BluFlux releases cellphone case that increases phone's signal by two bars

By: Jeff Wilkins Monday March 23, 2015 Tags: Ben Wilmhoff, BluFlux Technologies, cellphones, Eric Roth, Louisville, Over-the-Air Chamber


By Jeff Wilkins


BluFlux logoLOUISVILLE -- Dropped calls and unreliable cellphone coverage may become a thing of the past, thanks to a new cellphone case developed by BluFlux RF Technologies.

The Louisville-based company recently received a patent for a cellphone case design they claim increases cell signals by two bars and reduces the amount of radiation that users absorb during everyday use.

The unique case works by utilizing an exterior antenna that flips from the base of the phone, routing the signal away from a user's head and hands. Interference from the head and hands can block or absorb up to 90 percent of cellphone signal strength, according to Ben Wilmhoff, BluFlux's founder and president.

Ben Wilmhoff
"The head and the hands de-tune the antennas," said Wilmhoff. "It's because of what we call the electromagnetic near field of that signal. By getting a few centimeters, an inch or inch and a half away from my head and my hands, you can get back a significant amount of that energy."

When extra signal strength isn't needed, BluFlux's deployable antenna can be folded back and stowed flush into the cellphone case.

A related mobile app will notify users when increased signal strength is necessary and the antenna should be deployed. The app utilizes a learning algorithm to map the user's typical routes and identify where they are most prone to dropping calls.

While the value of BluFlux's antenna for everyday cellphone users seems obvious, Wilmhoff believes the company's technology would be most beneficial to first responders.

"There is a certain segment of the population that is so desperate for improved connectivity, like wildland fire crews and public safety officials," he said.  "In fact, a lot of the work we do here is actually geared towards public safety."

Wilmhoff readily admits he doesn't believe cellphone radiation causes cancer, and recent studies support his stance, but he acknowledged his company's case would alleviate the fears of those concerned about health risks associated with cellular technology.

"We generally don't think of this as an anti-radiation product," Wilmhoff said. "But you can clearly see that one of the side-benefits of the technology is that radiation isn't going into your head and your hands.  It's going into free space, and it's not being absorbed into the human body."

Other companies have released similar products that claim to reduce the amount of radiation absorbed by the body and improve cell coverage but offer little proof of their results, according to Wilmhoff.

"It's like taking vitamins versus taking medicine," said Wilmhoff. "How do I really know that's working? With this technology we can pretty clearly see that I'm driving through an area where I normally drop calls and now I don't. I have more bars on my cellphone signal."

Along with real-world experimentation, BluFlux's state-of-the-art facility in Louisville houses an Over-the-Air (OTA) chamber that tests radio frequencies and was vital in testing their new product.

"I've actually gotten in there," Wilmhoff said of the OTA chamber. "A lot of the testing we've done so far has been on actual human subjects--meaning me."

Wilmhoff said the chamber registered 6dB (4-times improvement) in radio frequencies on Samsung cellphones and a 9dB (8-times improvement) on iPhones when using BluFlux's new case.

Eric Roth
For now, BluFlux plans to license its technology to larger companies rather than manufacture its own cellphone cases.  Eric Roth, BluFlux's director of product development, said manufacturing their own products in the future was one of many options on the table.

"The climate in the US has changed as far as electronics manufacturing," Roth explained. "Right now, we are considered a low-cost country due to automation and the fact that the cost in developing countries is going up and up and up. We have a lot of solutions. We can contract manufacture our own devices here. We can partner. Really, the sky's the limit.

"By the end of this year we want to have our concept vetted out, and it's a matter of commercialization and manufacturing availability," Roth added.

With other projects in development, Wilmhoff said BluFlux expects to expand its workforce by 50 percent in coming months. He echoed Roth's sentiments about one day doing on-site manufacturing and believes his company is in the right location for continued growth.

"As far as electronics manufacturing, (Colorado) is a really unique place," Wilmhoff said. "There are a number of resources that we have available to us. Our end-user and our end-customer, in general, demand a 'Made in the USA' type product, so it's important for us to be able to deliver on that."
Jeff Wilkins

About the Author: Jeff Wilkins

Jeff Wilkins is a journalist whose work has appeared in various publications including The New York Times Syndicate and the New York Daily News. From 2011 to 2013, he served as a Volunteer in Paraguay with the U.S. Peace Corps. In 2009, Jeff was the recipient of the Sam Casten Award for Excellence in Journalism as well as Journalism Student of the Year at Brooklyn College where he graduated with honors. He currently resides in Longmont with his wife and son.