An interesting but perhaps not well known fact about wireless signals is that they can be boosted with glass as well as small cells. As such, engineers at Ericsson (News - Alert) have started experimenting with a new type of glass-encased cell site.
This solution enables the crafting of even smaller small cells, which can then be put closer to mobile users for greater effectiveness. Indeed, glass is extremely common in homes, businesses and vehicles, allowing Ericsson's new cell site to be placed exactly where they're needed the most.
According to Bloomberg (News - Alert) Businessweek, this new technology really is as simple as a small antenna element being embedded into a pane of shielded glass. This antenna picks up Wi-Fi or cellular signals from nearby connected devices, aggregates those connections and sends them as a combined transmission to the nearest cell tower.
This very neatly clears up issues of crowding cell towers as, instead of 50 separate people sending 50 separate signals to the same tower simultaneously, only one signal is sent. Not only does this relieve stress on cell towers, it cuts down on devices interfering with each other. The result is improved speed and connection resiliency, as well as improved battery life as each device no longer needs to struggle in order to send and receive signal.
The idea with Ericsson's glass cell site technology is similar to that of a repeater or range-booster kit, but much more advanced. For one thing, Ericsson's technology is designed to integrate closely with the network. For another, the use of shielded glass limits the number of competing transmissions bouncing around the cell.
This technology will become even more relevant as network technology is enhanced. Even though 5G WI-Fi and Hotspot 2.0 will enhance the wireless experience for some, those with older smartphones and tablets may find their connections suffering as a result. Meanwhile, those with the latest network technology will still interfere with one another. Ericsson's connected glass technology will solve these issues.
Ericsson plans to take this concept further, as well, embedding even more technology into their networked windows. For example, an infrared field across the glass' surface could enable control over lights or other electronic devices.
Edited by Jamie Epstein