Published: Thu, November 09, 2017
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Wrapping Your Router With Aluminum Foil Improves Wi-Fi Signal, Study Says

Wrapping Your Router With Aluminum Foil Improves Wi-Fi Signal, Study Says

After that, they made a decision to get a little more sophisticated and used an app called WiPrint to develop a reflector that could bounce wireless signals around the home.

Wi-Fi is notoriously challenging for use indoors because of the frustratingly complex relationship between radio signals and environmental factors such as walls and furniture.

Fortunately, a team of researchers from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire has devised a remarkably simple and affordable way to improve WiFi signals within an indoor space and even strengthen wireless security: 3D printed structures covered in aluminum foil. The optimized reflector works by shaping wireless signals, which not only increases network coverage, but allows signals to move freely and avoid obstructions such as walls or panels.

"Through this single solution, we address a number of challenges that plague wireless users", she said. 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.

'Not only do we strengthen wireless signals, we make those same signals more secure'.

This, according to the team, can reduce interference and the signal-deadening effect of building materials, and even increase the system's protection against cyberattacks by limiting the signal to certain spaces. 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.

"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 current research generalizes this idea by presenting a systematic approach to optimizing reflector shapes for enabling a more developed set of signal distributions.

The team simulated the spread of the signals, along with their interactions with objects in the environment.

"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", explained Zhou. The reflector is then placed around the antennas on the wireless router.

Because the current design is limited by its static shape, the research team will now study reflectors made of different materials so that the device can automatically adapt its shape when the interior layout changes.

Researchers from Dartmouth College began by simply playing around with aluminum drink cans cut open in a semicircular shape, using this as a crude reflector, with some success.

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