How to boost your wifi signal using a bit of tin foil
You can improve your wifi signal at home without resorting to an expensive aerial by using tin foil, researchers have found.
The reflective material can be used to direct signals to the areas where they are most needed around the home. And conversely, the thin sheets of metal could be used to block a signal.
Researchers at Dartmouth College in the UK have experimented with 3D printed signal reflectors, consisting of a thin layer of metal and plastic.
"With a simple investment of about €30 and specifying coverage requirements, a wireless reflector can be custom-built to outperform antennae that cost thousands of dollars," said Xia Zhou, an assistant professor of computer science.
"Through this single solution, we address a number of challenges that plague wireless users."
Previous experiments have used a drinks can behind an antenna to act as a reflector that boosts coverage by reflecting the wifi signal in one direction.
The more refined system allows users to design their own reflector that takes into account the layout of the home, such as where walls are located.
Researchers came up with 'WiPrint', which analyses the internal layout of a home, mapping where the owner would like to see the signal improved.
The design is 3D-printed and then wrapped in foil.
This can help boost the signal by as much as 55pc where it is needed most and reduce it by more than 60pc where it is not needed.
Being able to redirect the signal in this way can also help to make the home wifi more secure, researchers say.
It has even been suggested that people without access to a 3D printer could experiment with cardboard and tin foil, although this would be less effective.
However it would be better than nothing - and it is still much cheaper than a directional antenna, which can run into hundreds of euro.