In this fast paced society laden with modern tech and in love with latest gadgets, slow things tend to irk people and if that something is as important as “Internet” it is a nightmare. Internet is a daily used commodity used by billions around the globe yet its not the same for everyone.
Ever wondered why your internet connection is faster in higher or open places rather than indoors. You will find signals to be stronger and connectivity to be better if you are in clear vicinity of an “Antenna”. The issue is that fast internet speed cannot be achieved without a more efficient system of delivering the wireless signals and that is not possible without “more antennas”.
BREAKING: MIT's new "smart surface" improves IoT devices' signals 10x without putting additional antennas on them.
— MIT CSAIL (@MIT_CSAIL) February 3, 2020
Internet has its own set of limitations and boundaries for every region. With gadget world going smaller and more compact the real issue starts! Fast stable delivery of signals needs antennas and antennas needs space, whenever the signals got weaker the only solution would be, add an antenna. Companies followed the same rule by either adding an antenna in the area or a smaller version of it in their mobile phones.
But as phones went smart people craved smaller phones and adding compact antennas became a problem which eventually resulted in smartphones with ‘not so good’ connectivity power links. Compact smartphones simply did not have the space to accommodate more antennas. Companies could not compromise on other features i.e. camera, battery, larger LED’s as they are the features most people look for while buying a new smartphone.
MIT offers a simple solution. What if instead of adding antennas and transmitters on access points and mobile phones, we erect them everywhere. On your wall, roof, outside balcony, just about anywhere.
Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory just flipped the conventional way people thought Wi-Fi worked. What if instead of working on transmitter and receiver, we could add compact antennas just about anywhere that could amplify internet manifold.
The new RFocus technology is a software controlled smart surface that holds almost 3000 compact antennas that can amplify the wireless signals up to 10 times. The cluster of antennas acts as a beam forming controller in between the receiving device and the signals dissipater (antenna). Venkat Arun, lead author on the RFocus project, tells that this is the largest network of antennas ever used in a single communication unit. Controlled tests show that these antennas have the capacity to amplify the average signal strength ten times.
Say so long to signal boosters…
Researchers at @MIT have designed these "smart" wallpaper sheets (👇) that can dramatically boost Wi-Fi signals in the home by doubling their capacity https://t.co/FMuYKn2X5M pic.twitter.com/cbyYzjIq7r
— Telegraph Technology Intelligence (@TelegraphTech) February 3, 2020
Most of such new technology is out of common man’s reach because of its hefty price tag. But RFocus boasts to be very cost effective as each antenna is priced at few cents making a combination of 3000 antennas very reasonably priced. These antennas are very cheap because of their processing; they play no part in the processing of the signal, their function is merely to control how it is being reflected further. “If you want to have wireless devices that transmit at the lowest possible power, but give you a good signal, this seems to be one extremely promising way to do it” Balakrishnan, MIT professor & a senior author in the study, added.
RFocus technology uses very low power as the device plays no role in signal amplification, just reflecting the signal or transmitting it through, which allows thousands of antennas to emit least amount of power.
The inventors are still not sure of its commercial usage but are working hard to produce and test the technology on a large scale that can define new boundaries for even 5g, the fastest internet out there.