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One of the trade-offs in wireless WiFi internet is that the signals can’t make it through the walls which renders a painful broadband experience. But the issue might have found a solution. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology and the University of Rennes in Austria have devised a solution that could enable WiFi signals to penetrate through walls and maintain decent coverage and performance.
The research was published in the journal Nature (PDF). The solution is to take that “randomly disordered medium” (physical obstructions, walls) and make it translucent to the incoming light waves (WiFi signals) by placing a complementary medium in front of it. The method is thought to be similar to an anti-reflective coating on glasses.
Presently, we resort to many workarounds to address a poor WiFi signal. Positioning a router and its antennae to ensure better coverage in all directions, using repeaters, extenders, or even setting up a secondary router are our best solutions. Besides, it’s also possible to make some improvements by switching bands between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. But it may not give us the ideal benefit as bands and coverage have an inverse relationship.
Expensive but a good method could also be using a Mesh WiFi system. In Nepal, the Mesh router setup has just recently begun. But these come at additional costs and time and also require skills to execute.
But natively, there have not been solutions to remedy poor WiFi coverage when we want to check on WiFi signals just a few rooms away. The WiFi frequencies are vulnerable to physical obstructions such as walls, trees, and even glass. They are a perfect impediment to seamless wireless connectivity.
For home WiFi internet users, walls are our enemies. They block WiFi signals coming from the routers across the other room, considerably weakening the signals. You may see a WiFi signal, but the internet may not perform. You can blame the walls.
As per the team of scientists, the solution is to take that “randomly disordered medium” (i.e. a wall) and render it translucent to the incoming light waves (radio waves) by placing a tailored complementary medium in front of it.
Matthieu Davy, Assistant Professor in Electronics at the Université de Rennes, said:
“This additional obstacle allows to guide the waves in the initial maze to follow totally transmitted paths, eliminating any reflection, regardless of the direction of illumination.”
But there is the difficulty of the structure of the obstacles added to the radio signals’ path which has to be carefully tailored. Because it has to be similar to the reflection pattern of those same waves by the first obstacle. To address this, researchers have designed a tool to calculate additional obstacles. This allows for obtaining fast results irrespective of the two-dimensional difficulty of additional obstacles.
What makes the technique effective and feasible is that the idea doesn’t require prior knowledge of the wall’s internal structure. It only requires the scanning of the reflection of waves at the surface. The technique is applicable to all types of frequencies – radio waves to light and seismic waves to sound waves.
But there are some complexities. Applying the technique at home looks easier said than done. It could be tricky to make the additional obstacle for a wall. The other problem is that it only sees obstacles in two dimensions for waves to spread along the surface.
“If we consider a volume of material, the determination of the very precise configuration of the added obstacles requires too much computer time at this point,” said the summary.
However, the finding does bring a fresh perspective on wireless technology. So far, researchers have dedicated countless research, theories, and efforts to finding a solution against the obstacles that plague WiFi signals. The latest finding could be a vital reference for future studies.
What do you try to get your WiFi to perform better? Does it adhere to the router specs as required by NTA? Do share in the comments below.
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