Can a Piece of Tinfoil Really Fix Your Wi-Fi Problems?

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

They then built a more sophisticated system that uses an app called WiPrint to design a plastic reflector which meets the requirements of any particular environment, i.e. blocking off certain areas or rooms, strengthening the signal in other specified areas.

If you have a spotty Wi-Fi signal in your home and you're looking for a solution, go into the kitchen.

In a bid to end poor wireless connectivity issues at home and other spaces, a group of researchers from Dartmouth College has developed a unique and affordable system that uses a 3D printed reflector wrapped in aluminium foil to direct signals to an area of choice.

"Through this single solution, we address a number of challenges that plague wireless users", she said. "Not only do we strengthen wireless signals, we make those same signals more secure", said Zhou. 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.

Excluding the price of the 3D printer, a reflector costs around $35 to make.

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Their research builds on previous work in which they demonstrated how an ordinary soda can, cut open with the top and bottom removed, could be placed behind a Wi-Fi router to boost wireless signals in some directions.

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 reflector, composed only of plastic and a thin layer of metal, redirects wireless signals to the desired coverage areas. It can also improve security by reducing signals to areas, such as windows, that provide opportunities for malicious actors to hack into the local network.

To create the technology, the research designed an algorithm that optimizes a reflector's 3-D shape to target wireless coverage.

"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 researchers say they will continue developing and advancing their WiFi enhancing technology, and will be exploring the use of different materials for the reflectors.

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