Aluminum foil can actually improve your wireless signal

10 November, 2017, 08:19 | Author: Oscar Goodwin
  • Dartmouth's WiPrint tech uses low-cost 3D printed reflectors to custom improve WiFi signals

Wrapping a foil around a router's antenna can make for reflectors, which strengthens the signal in one direction.

November 8, 2017- A team of researchers led by Dartmouth College may have finally solved the problem of how to inexpensively improve wireless signal strength for indoor spaces with multiple rooms. The reflector redirected the wireless signal to the areas in the room which have limited wireless coverage, boosting weak spots.

The 3D printed reflector shapes the wireless signal, improving the signal reception in desired areas. Such a system can also make it more hard for attackers by adding to existing security measures like encryption through physically confining wireless signals to limited spaces, researchers said. The team also says that this practice limits interference. Existing approaches to optimising wireless signals rely on directional antennae to concentrate signals, but this equipment is either hard to configure or beset by high cost.

These experiments were based off the idea of using an aluminum soda can behind a router in order to direct the signal away from deadening walls and other obstructions. The researchers, whose findings were earlier reported on by TechRadar, first tried aluminum drink cans and cut them into a circular shape to reflect a signal towards dead areas. The next step in the research is to investigate reflectors that are able to change their shape automatically to change with interior layouts. "With a simple investment of about $35 and specifying coverage requirements, a wireless reflector can be custom-built to outperform antennae that cost thousands of dollars", the team says.

They developed a program called WiPrint and fed it with specifics like router location and target area (where they wanted the signal strength to improve).

"W$3 e aim to strengthen the signal in regions where high performance is desired, and weaken the signal in regions where malicious third-parties could potentially be eavesdropping", the study's authors wrote in their research paper. The team also developed an approach to simulating how radio signals spread and interact with objects in their environment. More specifically, they discovered that the reflectors were capable of decreasing the WiFi strength by up to 10 dB for blocked areas and strengthening it by 6 dB for target areas. One of the next goals for the project will be to develop adaptable reflectors which can change their structure and shape when an interior layout changes.

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