Aluminum foil can actually improve your wireless signal

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One solution is to buy a second router or amplifier, but these options can be expensive.

A team of researchers at Dartmouth University have solved the problem of how ordinary aluminum foil can be combined with 3D printed signal reflectors to improve wireless signal strength.

The concept for the project is simple and was inspired by a previous research project which used soda cans to deflect and direct a WiFi signal in a particular direction.

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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. Not only does it make sure you have signal in the rooms you need it in, but it allows you to cut off signal where you don't.

The reflectors are made out of plastic and covered in aluminium foil, with a unit's shape determined by data fed into the WiPrint system. After it's printed, aluminum foil is placed atop it.

"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. This also leads to reduced interference. After testing the approach in two different interiors for signal strength and speed, the researchers reported that optimised 3D reflectors provide numerous benefits including: strong physical security, low cost, and ease of use for non- expert users. The team successfully analyzed the space in a room and created a custom reflector that could improve Wi-Fi signals inside it. This research has found that all you actually need is a 3D-printed piece of plastic wrapped in foil that's been directionally configured for the targeted area. 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.

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'Cardboard would act as a reasonable substitute for the 3D printed substrate, ' Justin Chan noted on YouTube, in a comment accompanying the video demonstration. How cheap it is.

"With a simple investment of about $35 (£27) and specifying coverage requirements, a wireless reflector can be custom-built to outperform antennae that cost thousands of dollars."
At the moment, however, the WiPrint software is not yet commercially available.

After assessing interior layouts and the target areas to strengthen or weaken signal strength, the Dartmouth research team placed a "computationally optimized" signal reflector around a wireless router. The goal is to create a flexible customized reflector that can adapt to changes that can affect its efficiency, such as the layout of the household it's in.

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