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The Spray-On Antenna That Boosts Reception Using Zero Power

If you often find yourself lacking wireless signal, there may soon be a simple solution. Scientists have developed a spray-on coating that can boost your phone's reception, make your home amplify signals instead of attenuating them, or even turn a tree into a transmitter.

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Speaking at Google's new "Solve for X" event, Rhett Spencer from military technology firm Chamtech explained how the company has developed an aerosol spray that paints an antenna onto any surface, boosting local wireless reception without using any extra power.

He didn't get into the details of exactly how it works — that's military technology companies for you — but he did explain that the aerosol coats a surface with thousands of nanocapacitors. They somehow align themselves and act as a wireless antenna. Presumably, those nanocapacitors resonate in such a way that boosts the signal, but that's my speculation.

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Chamtech has already tested the coating on an iPhone antenna, boosting the handset's signal power by about 10 per cent. They've also shown how the spray can be used to turn a tree into an antenna capable of broadcasting a VHF signal over 14 miles, as well as demonstrating that it can be used underwater, too.

Looking forward, Spencer speculates that it could be used to halve the power used by phones in detecting signals, or even sprayed onto buildings to turn them into giant antennae. I need some of this spray. [Solve For X]

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DISCUSSION

"...Boosts Reception Using Zero Power!"

"... paints an antenna onto any surface, boosting local wireless reception without using any extra power."

This is vaguely bothersome. It's all correct and fine, of course, but it kinda relies on the (false) implication that adding antennas to things normally uses more power and this is somehow different.

Receiving antennas do not "use power" in the first place, so claiming that adding more reception antennas "doesn't increase power usage" is superfluous. It's kinda like sticking a hood scoop on your Camero and bragging that it doesn't "use more gas".

What's cool about this is that they can effectively increase the antenna's size without much impact on the form factor of the device, which is big-thumbs-up-hey.