Jennic is looking to make a splash with its JN5139 wireless microcontroller that can lead to wireless sensor network modules with a bill of materials (BOM) for well under $5. This includes also the cost of a high performance PCB antenna design and all support parts. The reference design they were showing off at ESC provides excellent RF performance with a range in excess of 1Km.
This approach of using PC antennas and single chip solutions is being pursued by the competition as well. The approach eliminates the RF balun and its associated signal loss. Of course, part of the trick is the antenna design and that comes for free with the reference design.
The JN5139 can use the compact HC49U surface mounted package measuring 12.5mm by 3.7mm by 4.2mm. It costs about half the price of equivalent devices while providing superior performance. The reference design fits on a 2 layer
, 49mm by 25mm PCB including antenna.