Yan Wan and her team from University of North Texas have successfully invented a device which is able to extend the Wi-Fi signal to five kilometres or a little more than three miles. The current normal range for the wireless communication can only reach a hundred metres or about the length of football field. This could mark an improvement to the existing wireless solutions and lead to new forms of wireless communication.

The device, which is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs), was put on exhibition at the Smart America Expo in June. The invention was developed as to help in providing wireless communication to disaster-struck areas where the control towers are down and thus communication with the disaster victims is a challenge.

The extending of the Wi-Fi signal was made possible because of the directional antenna design of the device. To always maintain a strong signal and prevent signal disruption, the antenna rotates automatically making it to always align with the target and thus making it communicate efficiently.

“This technology would be very useful in disaster scenarios when the cell towers are down and there’s no communication infrastructure,” Wan said. “However, in order to enable the information dissemination between the rescue teams and control centers, we need to have a structure available to make this happen. And this is what we’re trying to provide.”

As there is a challenge to provide an infrastructure for this device, it will take some time before the drone will be implemented in the real-world. However, with a grant from NSF, in the future, Wan’s research will improve air traffic safety, coordination and efficiency.