Why We’re All Ears for No Shark Fins

Pervasive vehicle connectivity is becoming the norm. It serves a purpose far beyond the infotainment system, requiring as many as 14 antennas in a vehicle. The ubiquitous but mildly unattractive “shark fin” antenna that extrudes from the rear roof of many modern vehicles carries many of today’s connected services.

​Even so, less visible antennas are buried in doors, inside bumpers and behind glass. These hidden antennas crisscross through the vehicle, creating an expensive and often unreliable web of cables in the car. With the proliferation of new antennas and radio services, now is the time to simplify automotive antenna technology to control cost, improve reliability and performance, and enhance vehicle aesthetics and aerodynamics.

The Antenna Challenge

  • Low power systems require gain and directionality
  • Antenna efficiency, reliability, and cost are drivers
  • Complex older antenna constructions are obsolete
  • Aesthetics and aerodynamics must be optimized

Today, a new class of antennas called conformal antennas are here to solve the challenge. A conformal antenna​ is a multiband integrated antenna that conforms with the body A-surface, meaning there are no elements that stick out of the body. Like your mobile phone, conformal antennas are buried in the electronics, below the body surface and help avoid the unsightly radiator elements as well as the inefficiency and added cost of cables. It consolidates many antennas into a single device.

Conformal Antenna

​Shark Fin Antenna

Antenna Complexity

​More than 8-10 technologies:

  • 4xLTE, 2xBT / WiFi, Multi GNSS, SDARS, 1xV2X

5 technologies at best:

  • 2xLTE, 1xBT / WiFi, 1xGNSS, 1xSDARS


​Multiantenna integration:

  • ​​Integration of 8-14 antennas in one place

Exterior car design:

  • Antenna concealment on the roof​​

Radiation pattern at low elevation angle




  • Flows with the design of the car

  • Minimum break in design flow of the exterior of the vehicle​

​Breaks the design flow:​

  • With increasing complexity, it only gets bigger and/or more in number

  • It looks dated​​​

To date, antenna design has been an afterthought. Communication systems are prioritized first, then the antenna is designed to meet the communication system requirements and to conform to the design of the vehicle itself. As a leading tier-1 automotive supplier, HARMAN is utilizing conformal antenna technology to change the way its OEM partners think about antennas and is dedicated to improving the overall in-vehicle experience for drivers and riders.

To learn more, watch, “We're All Ears for No Shark Fins—Conformal Antenna Webinar," on-demand and hear from a panel of telematics experts about smart conformal antennas. ​

HARMAN Smart Conformal Antenna
HARMAN Smart Conformal Antenna accommodates up to 14 individual antennas in one compact package with a completely unobtrusive design. It integrates 5G and Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) capabilities to provide navigation, infotainment, and safety features, while minimizing weight and cost.

Karen Piurkowski​

Senior Director, Global Content & Digital Marketing at HARMAN International​​​​

Connect with the Author: LinkedIn

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