Researchers Use Aluminum Foil to Boost Wi-Fi Performance


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Linksys WRT 1900AC. Curvier, and with four antennae.

Telling somebody to take off their tinfoil hat isn’t usually a praise; it implies that an individual subscribes to numerous conspiracy theories concerning aliens, telepathy, brain-implanted chips, and/or the therapeutic powers of aluminum foil. Seriously–Google “Aluminum foil electrosmog” if you wish to take a fantastic journey down Crazy Lane. Now, researchers from Dartmouth and Columbia have launched a brand new report on how atypical aluminum foil will be mixed with 3D printing to create a directional antenna that improves Wi-Fi efficiency.


If you’ve ever lived in an condo constructing or carefully packed neighborhood, you’re in all probability accustomed to the Wi-Fi connection issues that may plague such dwelling areas. The variety of folks with wi-fi modems has risen sharply prior to now decade, whereas the variety of gadgets connecting to these modems has risen exponentially. To clear up this downside, the badysis staff proposes WiPrint, described as follows:

A brand new computational strategy to management wi-fi protection by mounting sign reflectors in fastidiously optimized shapes on wi-fi routers. Leveraging 3D reconstruction, fast-wave simulations in acoustics, computational optimization, and 3D fabrication, our methodology is low-cost, adapts to totally different wi-fi routers and bodily environments, and has a far-reaching influence by interweaving computational methods to unravel key issues in wi-fi communication.


Translation: Thermoplastic + aluminum foil = higher, safer Wi-Fi.

To take a look at its principle, the badysis staff used a Linksys WRT54GL modem and examined total sign propagation energy each from the ‘native’ Wi-Fi (no directional antenna) and with the directional antennas proven above. The antennas and their shapes had been chosen primarily based on a cautious 3D modeling of the area by which the antennas would function. The modeling strategy the staff took was just like that used for caustic design, solely with ray traced radio waves versus seen mild. As the scientists level out, different options, just like the antennas generally discovered in the back of a modem, provide solely coarse-grained changes to sign energy.


The end result from the badessments was fairly optimistic. Not solely did the simulated mannequin of sign propagation carefully match experimental outcomes, the quantity of Wi-Fi sign leaking into different, less-desired factors of the room was diminished as effectively. The complete value of supplies for the take a look at (not counting the 3D printer itself) got here to about $45, in contrast with $9,000 for a directional antenna.

It’s not clear when one of these expertise would or might come to market–the large availability of such options would rely on each 3D printing changing into widespread and the event of consumer-friendly radio ray tracing purposes that would make a ground plan in a 1-Three story constructing, together with a possible basement.

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