Augmented Reality Can Improve Wi-Fi Installation in Homes (2020)

By Ethan Wright, Charter Communications

Wi-Fi is a physical medium that is impeded by distance and materials that cause interference. In order to ideally place access points (APs) the physical space needs to be understood. Relevant variables much as spacing, shape of the space, and interfering objects need to be consistently measured. Measuring and evaluating all of these variables creates challenges for technicians to properly optimize networks. APs may be placed optimizing for either cost to the consumer and service provider or coverage. We have built an application that will help a technician or customer design an ideal Wi-Fi space. This paper will outline design issues in Wi-Fi and how an augmented reality application can solve them.

Traditional Wi-Fi design utilizes a meter to collect data about the behavior of the electromagnetic radio waves within a physical space. This provides the technician insight into variables that impact radio waves that are hard to visualize. Interference from other radios and the differing amount of signal degradation caused by materials the radio waves pass through can be interpreted using a Wi-Fi meter. Our AR application combines the traditional data that would be collected using a Wi-Fi meter with additional information about the space such as the area and shape that require coverage.

Additional AP hardware is expensive for service providers and too much coverage overlap can cause negative network performance for clients. If the APs aren’t placed close enough together then clients will experience low signal or loss of signal. It is ineffective to train technicians and customers to measure and consider so many variables in order to decide where to place their APs. Instead, service providers may utilize augmented reality to gather data about the physical world and feed that data to systems that may make informed and consistent decisions about how the APs should be placed.

A customer’s living space contains three key components of relevant data when deciding where to place APs. The most important factor for effective mesh Wi-Fi design is distance between APs. If the distance is too great dead zones are created and mesh steering becomes ineffective. Conversely, when APs are placed too close to each other interference may be caused on overlapping channels. The service provider also incurs expense due to the additional hardware they are utilizing to cover the space.

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