Better WiFi security could soon be just a few rolls of wallpaper away. French researchers at Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble, in cooperation with the Centre Technique du Papier, have developed wallpaper that can block WiFi signals, preventing them from being broadcast beyond the confines of an office or apartment. But unlike other signal-blocking technologies based on the Faraday cage (which block all electromagnetic radiation), the wallpaper only blocks a select set of frequencies used by wireless LANs, and allows cellular phones and other radio waves through. L’Informatcien reports that researchers claim the price of the wallpaper, which is being licensed to a Finnish manufacturer for production, would be “equivalent to a traditional mid-range wallpaper.” It should be available for sale in 2013.
Pierre Lemaitre-Auger, the director of studies at Grenoble INP’s ESISAR (School of Advanced Systems and Networks) said during a demonstration of the wallpaper that in addition to preventing WiFi snooping, it could also be used in areas where there is concern about interference from WiFi or to block external WiFi sources—such as in hospitals, hotels, or theaters. (It could also be used to prevent guests from trying to get out of paying for WiFi and picking up an outside network for free.) He also said that the paper could be marketed to people concerned about sensitivity to electromagnetic waves, such as “people who want the opportunity to protect themselves and to have very low levels of radio waves in their apartment.”