Put a foil hat on the router, not your head
If you want to influence where the WiFi rays go – and where they do not – break out the tinfoil. Researchers have found that the scientific application of tinfoil can help WiFi reception in selected areas and reduce reception in others. A team of researchers from Dartmouth College discovered they could improve WiFi reception by adding a customized reflector that had been shaped according to the building size, shape, and materials to an everyday router.
Improved WiFi starts in the kitchen
The customized reflector is produced on a 3D printer and overlaid with ordinary kitchen aluminum foil. Researchers estimate that this reflector can be produced within 23 minutes at a cost of only 30 Euro.
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. — Xia Zhou, assistant professor of computer science at Dartmouth.
Before they even turned on their 3D printer, the Dartmouth team researched how radio waves spread and interact within a given environment. Subsequently, they developed an algorithm to optimize the reflector shape to enhance WiFi coverage where desired – and to reduce coverage where it was not.
Help your smart devices stay connected
Inconsistent WiFi coverage is a major issue for homes and businesses – particularly as more smart devices go online. The team started their project by looking into an earlier low-tech approach to enhancing WiFi with a strategically placed aluminum can behind the router.
The team believes that their research will increase WiFi security by keeping WiFi coverage from bleeding into unwanted spaces. They found that properly placed reflectors could reduce signal strength by up to 10 dB and increase it 6 dB where desired. That‘s better than wearing a weird hat.