The good news is that thanks to the work led by researchers at Brigham Young University, it looks like they have managed to significantly extend the range of the base wireless router by as much as 60 meters. The best part is that none of this required the use of additional or new hardware, and it was all done through software.
Dubbed On-Off Noise Power Communication, this can actually be programmed on top of the existing WiFi protocol on the same hardware. WiFi currently requires speeds of 1Mbps to maintain a signal, but with this new protocol, it only requires 1 bit per second. As researcher Neal Patwari of Washington University puts it, “If the access point (router) hears this code, it says, ‘OK, I know the sensor is still alive and trying to reach me, it’s just out of range.’ It’s basically sending 1 bit of information that says it’s alive.”
Before you get too excited about this, note that while the range might be extended, it might not necessarily be fast enough for all internet-related tasks. Instead, the researchers are suggesting that it might be good enough for smart home devices, like a garage door sensor, an air quality monitoring system, or a sprinkler system, all of which might only require an “on/off” message.