Communicating with loved ones during an emergency is something we come to expect from our cellular-driven lives, but that’s not always possible. During major disasters, cellular towers are often overloaded, meaning calls are dropped and texts are never received. There’s a solution to this dilemma, and it comes from the work of graduate researcher, Mai Hassan, from the University of British Columbia.
Hassan proposes a more effective communication route for digital signals by leveraging all of the channels in a given area – including radio and television stations. Her solution is a change in the shape of wireless signals so they can be transmitted on alternative channels without interfering with their original use. Further, she also manipulates the direction of cellular signals with smart antennas found in mobiles devices to send calls and texts in a single direction towards the receiver, rather than in all directions like traditional antennae.
You can see her full presentation here: