Affordable wallpaper that secures your Wi-Fi could could be in the shops next year
French scientists have reportedly invented wallpaper which blocks Wi-Fi networks but still allows through mobile phone signals.
The hope is that the wallpaper can help protect home Wi-Fi networks by making it impossible to access them outside of the home – but the French scientists may find themselves in a race against British techies from BAE Systems which announced “stealth wallpaper” in 2004 – but have yet to commercialise it.
The Wi-Fi blocking wallpaper was developed at Institut Polytechnique Grenoble and the Centre Technique Papier, and is described in a PhD thesis authored by Viva M. Fabien de Barros. The paper was created by applying “frequency selective surfaces” onto the paper.
“This work aims to develop a new means of protection against electromagnetic waves,” says the PhD filing. “More specifically, the study focuses on a technology capable of filtering only Wi-Fi and GSM waves across large areas of a dwelling, such as a wall. To do this, the wallpaper, has been studied.”
Silver crystals are embedded in the material in such a way that they block the wireless frequencies used by wireless routers, but let through mobile signals. However, one flaw is that rooms with a window will still let the signal escape. To combat this, the researchers are now working on a clear material for the windows which applies the same principles.
The wallpaper could be on sale as early as next year and is expected to cost around the same as existing mid-range wallpaper.
However, if Wi-Fi-blocking wallpaper is such a good idea, we might wonder why BAE has failed to commercialise its “stealth wallpaper” in the eight years since it received widespread coverage in 2004. The BAE version, developed in response to a request from Ofcom seems to have been much more heavy duty – solid panels with embedded copper layers. and so may have simply been too expensive for wider commercial production.
Meanwhile nanotech company NaturalNano of San Francisco may have com up with another commercial option: Wi-Fi paing including embedded conductive nano-particles.
While these solutions may stop users from being able to surf the web in their garden, it would also shore up network security. Home users have been urged to secure their networks, while small businesses such as coffee shops have been warned that they should properly lock down their networks if they offer free Wi-Fi to their customers. In 2010, Google was forced to admit that its Street View cars had unwittingly been collecting data from private networks while taking pictures.
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