Why 2.4 GHz is the Most Crowded Frequency in the World

Posted in FCC, Guides, Wi-Fi

I’ve got a confession to make: just counted and there are five Wi-Fi devices in my room. And all of them operate using the 2.4 GHz frequency. And I’m not only talking about laptops, smartphones, and the like: most cordless phones, microwave ovens, etc. operate using the same frequency.

So, what makes this frequency so unique? Let’s find out!

Radio stations, TV stations, cell phone carriers, and so on, make sure that the air is saturated with radio waves.

But don’t just blame it on those companies! Even you contribute to the problem, because the devices you’ve bought broadcast electromagnetic waves, polluting the atmosphere (metaphorically), if you will. Yes, even your cell phone does that, and some smartphones are worse than others.

But don’t jump at me just yet! Your and my contribution to the problem are much smaller, because the transmitters that are located inside our beloved devices have a much lower power in comparison with the transmitter that can be found in a TV station, for example.

It is strange that so many devices use the 2.4 GHz frequency, though. This means that they make the air buzz 2.4 billion times per second! But what is so special about this particular frequency?

The answer is simple: the FCC has designed the 2.4 GHz band especially for industrial operation. This means that manufacturers don’t need licenses to create devices which broadcast using that frequency. Basically, the 2.4 GHz band is free to use.

And yet, the mystery lingers. There are several unlicensed frequencies out there, but the manufacturers continue to create devices that operate using the 2.4 GHz band. Why not choose the 900 MHz band, which is also free to use, and go for a frequency that’s almost 3 times higher than that?

The explanation is easy to understand: higher frequency radio waves have a longer range – when they aren’t obstructed. As an added bonus, higher frequency devices will need smaller sized antennas.

Sadly, your microwave oven emits waves that have the same 2.4 GHz frequency. And before getting angry at those evil oven manufacturers, you should be aware of the fact that the FCC actually created the 2.4 GHz band especially for them. We are the bad guys, the ones that have started to make the microwave oven band more and more crowded.

The good news is that both microwave and router manufacturers have learned to coexist. Your microwave oven has a shield that prevents the radio waves from getting outside. And your router has learned to adjust its emission power, using several intelligent antennas, with the goal of maximizing range and minimizing interference.

In fact, many modern routers can now operate on the 5 GHz band as well. It’s a step forward, but this band is not yet widely used, because the 5 GHz signal is easily obstructed by walls, for example. If your devices are close enough to the router, you will benefit from a higher download/upload speed, due to the higher frequency band. However, if your laptop or smartphone is more than 10 feet away from the router, the good old trusty 2.4 GHz band will provide a stronger, more reliable Wi-Fi signal.

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App News

Posted in Apps, Google, News

HawkSpex Mobile, the spectral analyzer in your pocket

Believe it or not, a group of researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute have created an app that can examine various objects, the X-ray style way.

Named HawkSpex Mobile, the app is able to run a spectral analysis of the objects that are visible in your smartphone’s cam – without using any specialized equipment. Yes, the app works without using a hyperspectral camera! I’d instantly call these guys Pinnocchio’s relatives if they wouldn’t also be the inventors of the mp3 compression algorithm, for example.

HawkSpex uses your phone’s display to illuminate the objects that you are interested in examining. You could use the app to determine if your fruits and vegetables are truly organic, for example. If everything works as planned, the app will be released at the end of the year.


Google Maps gets a huge update

The Google Maps app has been recently updated, getting new “places”, “traffic”, and “transit” related features. This way, its users will be able to determine the weather conditions in their area, along with the way in which the weather will influence their transit schedules, etc.

With the new update, Google Maps will be able to provide commute information in real time. And to make the things even easier, its users can also receive Google’s recommendations for restaurants, ATMs, pharmacies, drug stores, gas stations, shops, and so on.

Google Maps will also provide info concerning the traffic conditions, which commute buses to get on, the trains’ timetable, and more. As expected, the new features have been launched for Android users at first, but they should be made available to iOS users within the following few weeks.


New app helps refugees find volunteer translators

It is a known fact that most refugees do not know too many foreign languages. For this reason, their journey to a safer destination can be very difficult. The good news is that a new app was created, with the goal of making them travel safer and easier.

Tarjimly can connect volunteer translators with refugees and immigrants that might need a doctor’s help, for example. The app uses Facebook Messenger as a base, providing rapid translation to people in need.

When an emigrant needs a translation, he needs to write the desired message, choose a foreign language, and then the app will try to connect him to a translator. People all over the world can register as translators using an online form, in which they specify what foreign languages they know.

The good news is that about 1,000 new people register as translators on a weekly basis; it’s about 20 times more than the app creators imagined. Right now, there are more than 20 million refugees in the world, and about half of them are children.


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