Pointer to article:
One of WiFi’s drawbacks—indeed, any RF technology’s limitation—is signal fading, which causes dead zones. In order to optimize your WiFi cell to your office space, you would typically need to do rough-and-ready “coverage surveys”: in other words, move the access points around to see what positioning minimizes dead zones and maximizes signal coverage where it’s needed.
Ideally, your WiFi RF coverage plan should be self-configuring and self-optimizing: just install one or more access points at regularly spaced intervals throughout your space—as a first rough approximation--and rely on the access points themselves to auto-configure their power output, beam directions and widths, and so forth. Or, as a second best, rely on them to display to you—the human being who installed them—which way you should move them, and how far, to optimize signal coverage.
Adaptive antenna arrays are an important enabler for self-optimizing WiFi. We’re going to see adaptive arrays become standard in all WiFi access points before long. With adaptive arrays, each antenna housing has multiple internal antennas that are auto-configured dynamically to ensure optimal signal coverage, interference, and other parameters. Back in the day (1995-1998), when I was a product manager making RF test/measurement equipment for the cellular industry, I attended a conference at Virginia Tech on new frontiers in wireless tech. The most memorable session was a presentation on “Feasibility of Adaptive Arrays,” and I’ve been a firm believer in that technology ever since, not just for cellular systems (which have the benefit of teams of professional RF engineers) but especially for premises-based systems such as WiFi (which are often installed and optimized by non-RF professionals, who can benefit from the auto-optimization features).
Needless to say, I’m enthused about Netgear’s new RangeMax products that incorporate adaptive array technology. Per their press release:
“RangeMax is an advanced Smart MIMO (Multi-In, Multi-Out) technology that uses seven internal antennas. RangeMax constantly surveys your home environment for physical barriers and interference and adjusts the wireless signal to compensate for these performance blockers. For example, if you carry your laptop from the family room to the bedroom, RangeMax automatically senses the change and selects from over 100 possible antenna configurations to deliver you the fastest, clearest connection! Everyone will enjoy consistently high-speed connections, everywhere in your house - no drop-outs, and no dead spots.”
Way cool. And essential for the continued deployment of WiFi into every available indoor space across the whole wide world.
P.S. Here’s the poem I wrote in 1996 that leveraged this totally geeky concept into a mystical/spiritual riff (see if you can spot the acrostic):
FEASIBILITY OF ADAPTIVE ARRAYS
Trained to receive, every fiber of me, every facet of you.
Unimpeded, one path, one singular path, through crowded sensations.
Recognizing our kind.
Now turning away.
Trying to receive, every moment of time, every flicker of thought and soft emanation.
Unobstructed, then blocked, then scattered through layers, accidental relations.
Recollecting our mind.
Now turning away.
True to my thoughts, we're moving in tandem.
Unawares, we're speaking the language of light.
Reconstructing our world through massive obstruction.
Now moving closer, now turning away.
Read the story. Now read the poem. Go back to the story. Then the poem. It’ll sink in. Most people wouldn’t have a clue what I’m talking about. But you, my blogreaders, are techies too. Nature abhors a dead zone.