New protocol extends home Wi-Fi range by 60 meters without hardware extension
Source: Elvina Yang
Researchers at Brigham Young University have developed a new protocol which extends Wi-Fi range by more than 60 meters via software updates instead of using a hardware extension.
Previous solutions on home Wi-Fi extensions, such as Amazon
Eero routers and Google Nest Wifi, rely on physical devices to act as a booster extending the Wi-Fi signal. Without needing to install extra hardware devices, the new protocol could change how devices are connected in the future for smart homes and smart factories
, whereby interoperability could be achieved rendering the ability for the smart home
, and smart factory to become interconnected .
Wi-Fi requires speeds of at least one megabit per second (1 Mbps) to maintain a signal with devices. However, the new protocol is able to maintain the connection signal on as low as one bit per second, which is one millionth of the data speed demanded by Wi-Fi.
The protocol has been named as On-Off Noise Power Communication (ONPC). Because it has proved that Wi-Fi devices can still function with one bit per second signal as an on and off message. It works by allowing Wi-Fi devices to transmit wireless noise in addition to data.
“They programmed into the Wi-Fi sensor a series of 1s and 0s, essentially turning the signal on and off in a specific pattern. The Wi-Fi router was able to distinguish this pattern from the surrounding wireless
noise (from computers, televisions and cell phones) and therefore know that the sensor was still transmitting something, even if the data wasn’t being received,” wrote the press release.
This protocol doesn’t work on every connected device at home. However, for those ones such as garage door sensors, air quality monitors and sprinkler systems, an on/off message is actually sufficient for them to keep functioning.
In the research, researchers successfully implemented the ONPC protocol, without any extra hardware installed, and extended the range of an off-the-shelf device 67 meters beyond the range of standard Wi-Fi.
“That’s the really cool thing about this technology: it’s all done in software,” said Phil Lundrigan, assistant professor of computer engineering at BYU, in the press release. “In theory, we could install this on almost any Wi-Fi enabled device with a simple software update.”
Not only Wi-Fi, even for LoRa, Bluetooth
The ONPC protocol, made clear by the researchers in the report, isn't meant to replace Wi-Fi or long-range wireless protocols like LoRa
. It’s created to supplement the current Wi-Fi protocol.
“Specifically, only when Stayin’ Alive (the name of the application managing ONPC) detects that the Wi-Fi device has lost its connection, it starts transmitting data using ONPC,” wrote the press release.
Further, the protocol could extend the range of other wireless connection technologies as well, such as Bluetooth, cellular or LoRa. All it needs is the ability to transmit energy and receive noise measurements. Wi-Fi doesn’t play a role here regarding sending and receiving data.