External 'smart surface' boosts wireless signals for IoT devices: Page 2 of 2

February 11, 2020 //By Rich Pell
External 'smart surface' boosts wireless signals for IoT devices
Researchers at MIT have developed a software-controlled "smart surface" that uses more than 3,000 antennas to maximize the strength of wireless signals at the receivers of connected devices.
signal strength without using any additional sensors, since the signals we measure are very weak," says PhD student Venkat Arun, lead author of the new paper on the project. "We ended up with a technique that is surprisingly robust."

Similar approaches to improving internet speeds using the external environment have been explored, including one proposed by a team at Princeton University led by Professor Kyle Jamieson, which was for the specific situation of people using computers on either side of a wall. However, say the researchers, the goal with RFocus was to develop an even more low-cost approach that could be used in a wider range of scenarios.

Jamieson, who was not involved in the RFocus project, adds, "Smart surfaces give us literally thousands of antennas to play around with. The best way of controlling all these antennas, and navigating the massive search space that results when you imagine all the possible antenna configurations, are just two really challenging open problems."

The paper on the RFocus project will be presented next month at the USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI) in Santa Clara, California.

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