July 2015 Wi-Fi News

OpenSignal Releases WiFi Mapper for Android

OpenSignal has ported its hugely popular WiFi Mapper iOS app to Android, three months after the initial release. WiFi Mapper for iOS has been downloaded over 150,000 times, and it looks like the app will experience similar levels of success on the Android platform as well.

Wi-Fi Mapper relies on crowdsourcing, volunteers that maintain an accurate list of available Wi-Fi hotspots, along with their type: public, private and free/paid. Users also rate the internet connection speeds that are available at the reviewed hotspots, along with latency and other performance indicators.


Right now, the app comes with a database of about 500,000,000 – yes, 500 millions! – hotspots in the entire world. You can grab a copy of the app right here.


New York Trash Cans Turned Into Wi-Fi Hotspots

BigBelly, a company that operates in the waste management industry, has applied for a grant to provide free Internet access to the New York City residents by using its trash cans.

The provided Internet speed will go up to 75 Mbps, fast enough to allow high quality video streaming to the connected devices, for example. And since very few things in life are really free, the “free” internet access will be paid through advertisement revenue. Yes, you will have to watch some commercials, but that’s the price that has to be paid for almost everything that has to do with online media, right?

According to Leila Dillon, VP of global marketing, BigBelly cooperates with cellular providers to find the best solution for their project. It’s interesting to note that the company has also invented solar-powered compactors that can send text messages when they are full.

solar powered compactors


New Method Improves Wi-Fi Propagation

Most of us have wondered why the Wi-Fi signal isn’t able to properly fill an entire building. Well, recent research has demonstrated that the frequencies used by routers (mostly 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) aren’t the best ones for the job.

Sure, significant progress has been made by improving routers, antenna designs and even SMA cables, but since the standard microwave frequencies don’t have the ability to penetrate objects very well, the scientists have started to test other frequencies as well.

It turns out that the lower UHF spectrum, especially the 400 MHz… 700 MHz range, is much more suitable for Wi-Fi, because the signal can “wrap” around objects much better.

The not so good news is that the same frequencies are used for television broadcasts, so there aren’t too many of them available. Still, a team of researchers at the Rice University in Houston have managed to find a way to utilize the already used UHF frequencies without causing any interference, by using signal canceling to insert wireless data transmission into the same channel.

Not only that, but when it comes to TV programming in the US, less than 10% of people rely on over-the-air UHF broadcasts. This means that the technology has a bright looking future, at least for the American people.


New Wi-Fi Technology Gets Your Devices Talking to Each Other

The Wi-Fi technology has been significantly updated after several years of minor upgrades. A new technology called Wi-Fi Aware has been released by the Wi-Fi Alliance, a non-profit organization which includes big names like Microsoft, Apple and Intel.

Wi-Fi Aware allows the devices to discover and communicate with other network-enabled products and applications without needing access to an Internet connection and/or cellular data.

Basically, Wi-Fi Aware devices broadcast and receive data packets from nearby cell phones, computers, routers, and so on. Users can choose if they want the applications to send and receive the data packets, of course. It’s a system that competes with Bluetooth and appears to have a high power efficiency.


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Medical Technology News

1. Many smartphones are nowadays being used in imaging processes that are able to help doctors a lot. A new lightweight device can transform a phone into a powerful mini microscope that is able to detect viruses, for example. The study has been recently published in the ACS Nano journal.

The specialists have commented that the techniques that have been used to detect bacteria and viruses make use of very expensive microscopes, which use all sorts of lenses and other expensive optical elements. Doctors running a small sized practice cannot afford purchasing such devices, and in situations like these the detection of viruses and bacteria can’t be done properly.

Fortunately, a new device acts like a compact microscope that can be easily linked to a modern smartphone. Due to its help, viruses can be easily detected; the viral load can be evaluated as well, allowing the doctors to determine how bad a particular infection is.

The device only weighs six and a half ounces. This new microscope is able to detect the cytomegalovirus, for example, a virus that can threaten life of the people who have a poor immunity.


2. Unfortunately, there are kids that require repeated CT brain scans, and all those radiations don’t do too much good to their general health. The good news is that doctors have developed a system which can minimize the dangerous radiations.

The new method implies using fewer X-ray snapshots of the brain: just seven of them, instead of 32 or 40, the number required so far. Fortunately, the reduced number of X-rays will not lead to a poorer diagnostic.

Until recently, specialists thought that fewer slides would mean less clarity and accuracy. Fifty kids that suffer from hydrocephalus and require periodic CTs were tested using the new method, and all the resulting scans were clear and accurate.

Specialists say that this method will be very useful in pediatric emergency rooms, where there is a strong need of a quick diagnosis. In the US alone there are more than 60 million CT scans performed every year, and four millions of them are done to kids.

ct scans


3. Fingerprints or iris recognition will be soon forgotten, as new methods of identification have been discovered and are already used. A new technique implies scanning the blood vessels which are located on the individual’s face, under the skin, and this will lead to an almost instantaneous recognition.

At the same time, specialists say that impostors will not be able to create a mask that uses the very same characteristics of a particular human face. Since a thermal imaging camera will also see the blood vessels beneath the mask, which are impossible to recreate, the system will not validate the impostors’ faces.


4. iSpO2 is a device that can be connected to most Apple devices, and its sensor can rapidly display the oxygen level, pulse rate and perfusion index readings. The device will probably not be used at home, but it will definitely prove to be of great help for sports lovers, aviators, skiers and all the other persons that are interested in collecting health related information about themselves while performing certain activities. The device will spare them a visit to the doctor and can be already purchased.



5. There are millions of people suffering from epilepsy in the entire world, and about a third of them do not react positively to medication. All the patients that cannot be treated must rely on devices that can detect the pre-seizures electrical activity in the brain.

The devices send electrical impulses to the brain, and thus the seizures get interrupted. Still, in some cases the devices may send electrical impulses even when it is not necessary to do so.

A new software application that is being developed at Hopkins University is capable of detecting only the real seizures, and then acts accordingly. The creators hope that the software will be embedded in a microchip that is able to monitor the neuro electrical activity of people with epilepsy.


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