Innovation That Matters

Wifi-blocking wallpaper makes networks more secure


New wallpaper technology developed by Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble can block wifi signals being broadcast outside of the user's vicinity.

The rising number of smartphone users has increased the demand for wifi capability for all, and we’ve recently covered new ideas providing internet access in parks — via dog owners — and even embedding the technology into sidewalk paving. However, those with private networks concerned about a secure connection may benefit from new wallpaper technology developed by Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble (INP), which can block wifi signals being broadcast outside of the user’s vicinity. Researchers at the French engineering university have collaborated with Centre Technique du Papier in the development of the wallpaper, which is coated in conductive silver ink that can block particular electromagnetic wave frequencies. This means that users will be able to benefit from a secure wifi network, alongside maintaining access to radio and mobile phone services. Serving a dual purpose, the wallpaper can not only keep wifi signal within the confines of the home, office or venue, it can also stop surrounding signals from permeating the space. What’s more, some worry that electromagnetic waves could be harmful, and although this theory is unproven, the wallpaper’s ability to block out these waves could put these fears to rest. While the wallpaper is designed with a geometric pattern in the silver ink, blocking capabilities are not affected if homeowners or businesses want to place their own choice of decoration over the top. Although a similar method for safeguarding business networks from security breaches was developed by BAE Systems in the UK, this has never been made commercially available. The ING researchers have granted Finnish company Ahlstrom exclusive rights to manufacture the wallpaper, and it is expected to go on sale in 2013. They explain that it should cost the same as a mid-range traditional wallpaper. With security settings already available to those who wish to make their wifi network private, some may question how necessary this technology is. However, while it is perhaps less of a concern for homeowners, it may still prove useful for businesses who offer their patrons free wifi access or need to ensure against security breaches. Could the inovation prove useful for your company or venue? Spotted by: Judy McRae



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