以下原文出自Wired.com的文章「Inside Apple’s Antenna Design Lab」。


After a press conference Friday addressing the iPhone 4’s antenna, Apple gave journalists a private tour of its radio-frequency test facility to provide a glimpse into the process of designing wireless products such as iPhones and iPads.

在週五的記者會後,Apple給記者私人參觀了無線電測試設施,一窺諸如iPhone與iPad等無線產品的設計過程。

Led by Ruben Caballero, a senior engineer and antenna expert at Apple, the tour gave about 10 reporters and bloggers a peek at Apple’s custom-built wireless testing lab, which consists of several anechoic chambers to measure frequency of each device in various settings.

訪問團由Apple的資深工程師兼天線專家Ruben Caballero帶領,約十名記者與blogger參觀了Apple訂製的無線訊號測試實驗室,其中包括許多消音室用來測量每個設備在各種設定下的頻率。

The tour was held after a press conference, in which Steve Jobs attempted to mitigate a media thunderstorm surrounding the iPhone 4’s purportedly flawed antenna by offering free cases to customers. During the conference, Jobs reinforced his original position that every phone has reception issues when held in certain ways, and he said a flawed software algorithm was making the iPhone 4’s attenuation look worse than it actually was.

參觀在記者會後開始,在記者會中Steve Jobs試圖用免費的Bumper來緩和媒體對iPhone 4據說有缺陷的天線設計。Jobs強調他原來的論點,每個手機以特定方式握住時都有收訊的問題,而有問題的軟體計算法讓iPhone 4 的訊號衰竭看起來比實際上更差。

Apple called the lab a “black” lab because it was a secret facility that even some employees were unaware of. The company made the lab’s existence public to show that Apple takes antenna design and wireless testing seriously.

Apple把這間實驗室稱為「黑色(black)」實驗室,因為它室一個秘密設施,部分員工甚至還不知道有這間實驗室的存在。Apple將這間實驗室公開以顯示Apple認真地看待天線設計與無線信號測試。

“This is the most advanced lab for doing RF studies that anyone in the world has,” said Phil Schiller, vice president of marketing at Apple. “The designs we do wouldn’t be possible without it.”

「這是世界上最先進的射頻研究實驗室。」Apple的行銷副總裁,Phil Schiller說。「我們在進行設計時不能沒有它。」

Each test chamber is lined with blue pyramid-shaped styrofoam designed to absorb radio-frequency radiation. A robotic arm holding gadgets such as iPads and iPhones spins 360 degrees while a piece of analytics software (ironically running on Windows XP) visualizes the wireless activity of each device. Caballero said each gadget is run through a chamber for at least 24 hours.

每個實驗室兩側都是藍色金字塔狀的發泡素材,用來吸收無線電輻射。當分析軟體(有點諷刺地,軟體是在Windows XP上運作)以視覺化顯示無線訊號的動作時,一個機械手臂握著iPad或是iPhone等裝置360度旋轉。Caballero說每個設備會在實驗室運作至少24小時。

In another test process Apple also has people sitting inside test chambers, holding a device for about 30 minutes while software analyzes its wireless performance to evaluate its interactions with the human body. Synthetic heads, hands and even feet (think Nike +) are used for some of these tests as well.

在另一個測試流程中,Apple有個人坐在裡面的實驗室握著設備30分鐘。同時軟體分析無線訊號效能,以評估其對人體的相互作用。人工頭部與、手甚至是腳(應該是用於Nike+的測試)也在一些實驗中被使用。

Apple’s testing lab looks similar to Celecom’s cellphone radiation testing lab that Wired.com visited last year. Manufacturers who create wireless products must gain certification from an independent lab, which verifies that each device meets acceptable radiation standards set by the Federal Communications Commission.

Apple的實驗室看起來類似去年Wired.com去年訪問過的Celecom的手機輻射實驗室。無線產品的製造商必須獲得獨立實驗室的認證,以確保所有產品通過FCC設定的輻射標準。

The difference with Apple is it built its own lab for the sake of having full, granular oversight on the design (and redesign) of its products. Prototypes go through several iterations and tests before they’re finalized into Apple products. (Of course, having its own lab also helps Apple better guard its secrets.)

Apple的不同點在於它有充分的理由而建立了自己的實驗室,為了仔細監督設計(與重新設計)它的產品。原型機在正式成為Apple產品前經過多次修改與測試。(當然,擁有自己的實驗室也有助於Apple的保密政策)

Before the iPhone 4 became an official product, prototypes of the device were tested in chambers for about two years until Apple settled on a design, Caballero said.

在iPhone 4 成為正式產品之前,原型機測試了約兩年,直到Apple確定設計為止,Caballero敘述。

“It’s not trivial to design antennas,” said Caballero, reminiscing on the days older antennas had a single frequency.

「設計天線並不是小事」Caballero說,它回憶以前天線只有單一頻率的時代。

After “passive” testing of devices inside isolated chambers, eventually Apple engineers drive around a large van containing synthetic hands gripping gadgets, with a laptop in the back running wireless analytics software to determine how the devices perform in real-world settings. Sometimes humans sit in the car seats holding the devices, too. During the tour, Apple showed a van containing a table full of synthetic hands gripping iPhone 4 devices.

在隔離實驗室的被動測試之後,最終Apple的工程師會開著廂型車,載著人工手握著的裝置,用筆記型電腦來執行無線分析軟體,以確定裝置在實際狀況下的效能。有時候,也會有人坐在車子的座位上握著裝置。在參觀期間,Apple展示了一輛廂型車,內部的桌子有許多握著iPhone 4 的人工手。

“To do the most challenging design in the world, this is what we have to do,” said Bob Mansfield, Apple’s senior vice president of Macintosh hardware. “This is hardcore stuff.”

「進行世界上最具挑戰性的設計,這就是我們所做的」Apple的Mac硬體資深副總裁 Bob Mansfield 說,「這是最艱難的工作」

Apple earlier today also posted a description and video of its test lab.

Apple今天早些時候也刊出了實驗室的敘述與影片。

via Inside Apple’s Antenna Design Lab Gadget Lab Wired.com