Researchers have developed a new way of combating the issue of slow wifi – a wireless network based on harmless infrared rays.

These slow connections are often exacerbated by having more devices continually added to the network, causing congestion.

According to the researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE), the Netherlands, the capacity is not only huge – reportedly more than 40Gbit/s per ray – but there is no need to share since every device gets its own ray of light.

The researchers said the system is simple and, in principle, cost-effective to set up. The wireless data comes from a few central ‘light antennas’, which could, for instance, be mounted on the ceiling. These are able to precisely direct the rays of light supplied by an optical fibre.

Since there are no moving parts, it’s maintenance-free and does not require power. The researchers explained that the antennas contain a pair of gratings that radiate light rays of different wavelengths at different angles (‘passive diffraction gratings’).

They added that changing the light wavelengths also changes the direction of the ray of light. Since a safe infrared wavelength is used – one that does not reach the vulnerable retina in your eye – this technique is safe.

If a user were to walk around and their smartphone or tablet moved out of the light antenna’s line of sight, another light antenna will take over, maintaining a consistent signal. The network also tracks the precise location of every wireless device using its radio signal transmitted in the return direction.

Adding devices is simple, according to the developers: they are assigned different wavelengths by the same light antenna, so they don’t have to share capacity. There is also no longer any interference from a neighbouring wifi network.

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