Mai Hassan, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of British Columbia, has come up with a solution that ensures phone calls aren't dropped and text messages do, in fact, get through to their destinations at times of crises, during which cellular networks are typically overloaded.
"I proposed a more effective way to use any channel in the neighborhood, even if those channels are being used by radio or television stations," Hassan
said in a University press release.
"The challenge was finding a way to make sure the cellular signals didn't interfere with the people using those channels in the first place."
changed the shape of the wireless signal so that it could be transmitted on channels that use radio or television frequencies.
changed the direction of transmission away from the original channel to limit interference.
was able to do this because she
didn't use a traditional antenna to transmit the wireless signal (they transmit in all directions); rather, she
used the smart antennas found in many of today's mobile phones.
What's great about this particular technology is that smart antennas transmit signals in one direction and can steer the beam in any direction necessary.
Using this feature to her
was able to transmit calls and send out texts via radio and television channels while avoiding any interference with the original signals.
created a video to further explain the technology.
In it, she
says that while the system is ideal for disasters, it doesn't have to be used ONLY during these instances.
Cellphone networks do get overworked at other times like, say, when the owner is at a concert or sporting event.
argues that her
method could be applied for use in these situations to improve cell phone coverage then too.