Northwestern team uses FM to cut home Wi-Fi interference

Wednesday 11 November 2015 | 09:41 CET | News
A team of Northwestern University engineers has published research on the use of FM radio to mitigate problems caused by competing Wi-Fi networks which can prevent data from getting through efficiently when data packets are sent at the same time. 

The study's lead author, Marcel Flores, said "Our wireless networks are completely separate from each other. They don't have any way to talk to each other even though they all approximately in the same place. We tried to think about ways in which devices in the same place could implicitly communicate. FM is everywhere." 

Called 'Wi-FM', the technique makes use of FM chips in most smartphones and mobile devices, which could be used with minor software upgrades. FM is good at passing through walls and buildings. Wi-FM allows devices to 'listen' to the network and select the quietest time slots. If there are many Wi-Fi networks in a building it can be impossible to find a quiet channel to prevent a dramatic decline in speed. 

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