To create the antenna aides, Zhou and his colleagues developed a software program called WiPrint.
Once the 3D model is generated, users simply need to print it out (whether at home or using a 3D printing service) and cover it in a reflective material, such as aluminum foil.
Scientists have developed a low- cost 3D-printed reflector that can increase wireless signal strength and boost security in offices and homes.
"Through this single solution, we address a number of challenges that plague wireless users", said Xia Zhou, an assistant professor of computer science at Dartmouth.
That is, by limiting the WiFi signal to certain indoor spaces, users can protect themselves better from nearby cyber attacks or unknown usage, and can even help to reduce interference with their own connections.
Customizing the coverage of wireless networks inside buildings is critical for users to improve signal reception in desired areas while weakening signals in others. After assessing interior layouts and the target areas to strengthen or weaken signal strength, the researchers placed a "computationally optimised" signal reflector around a wireless router.
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Through experiments presented in the research paper, the team improves upon previous studies that placed an aluminum soft-drink can behind a Wi-Fi access point to strengthen signal in one direction. More specifically, they discovered that the reflectors were capable of decreasing the WiFi strength by up to 10 dB for blocked areas and strengthening it by 6 dB for target areas. You can see a demonstration in the video below. How cheap it is.
"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.
They have not released the software yet and have not announced a date when it will be available (if at all).
The next step for the team is to figure out how to design reflectors that are made of a different material than 3D printed plastic. One of the next goals for the project will be to develop adaptable reflectors which can change their structure and shape when an interior layout changes.
Researchers led by Dartmouth College in the USA developed the cheap, customized reflector that directs wireless signals to where users need them most. The team also says it will investigate higher frequency bands such as millimeter waves and visible light.
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