Aluminum foil can actually help to fix Wi-Fi weak spots

Dartmouth's WiPrint tech uses low-cost 3D printed reflectors to custom improve WiFi signals

A 'virtual wall' that improves wireless security and performance | EurekAlert! Science News

The team of researchers used a 3D printer to produce a cheap and customized reflector that directs wireless signals in the direction you need them most.

The researchers tested the reflector with a variety of off-the-shelf Wi-Fi access points, including those using the latest Wi-Fi protocol 802.11ac. The team successfully analyzed the space in a room and created a custom reflector that could improve Wi-Fi signals inside it.

This solution solves multiple problems with WiFi signals. For instance, if you want a particularly strong signal in one part of your house and want to cut the signal from going outside via a window, the WiPrint program will create a model of a WiFi reflector which will meet these demands.

Scientists told how to increase the signal of your home Wi-Fi with their hands and without buying expensive equipment.

"Through this single solution, we address a number of challenges that plague wireless users", explained Xia Zhou, who worked on the study.

After that, they chose to get a little more sophisticated and used an app called WiPrint to develop a reflector that could bounce wireless signals around the home. The new research offers a systematic approach to optimizing the reflector shapes to enable a more developed signal distribution network. In the case of physical security, the reflector was able to decrease signal range in unwanted areas by 10dB, providing many obvious benefits for physical security.

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). You can see a demonstration in the video below.

One of the best thing about the WiPrint system?

"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", said Zhou. At the moment, however, the WiPrint software is not yet commercially available.

They say that it is possible to use cardboard to get the wavy structure - although it may not have the exact same effect. The team also says that this practice limits interference.

Moving ahead, the team aims to figure out a way to create a reflector from a material other than 3D-printed plastic, with the ultimate goal of designing an object that could actually change its shape according to the layout of the room.

The Dartmouth team will be presenting its innovative research this week at ACM's BuildSys 2017 in Delft, The Netherlands.

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