Image: Wi-Fi Alliance

If there’s one theme that keeps reappearing on this blog, it’s that our Internet keeps getting faster. While the first hardware supporting Wi-Fi 6 and the improved WPA3 security is slowly becoming available, the experts are already busy planning for a newer version, which we assume will be called Wi-Fi 7.

So, what can we look forward to? Of course, Wi-Fi 7 will bring another improvement in transmission speed, up to the point where Wi-Fi would become a serious alternative for the Ethernet cables still found in many homes and businesses.

More interestingly, the IEEE is looking at ways to use the radio signals to detect people moving around their rooms. This could have many useful applications: imagine your smart lights turning on and off automatically, when you walk around your home. Or think of an app that warns you if your grandmother hasn’t moved from the bedroom all day. Useful, but also a little scary when considering your privacy: the radio frequency signals would be sensitive enough to even detect your breathing!

Another area of interest is communication between vehicles, to help support self-driving cars. This is an up and coming market, which helps explain why the people behind 5G have also been looking at providing technology in this area.

Now, if they could just get around to standardizing the prononciation. Still not sure whether it’s Wai-Fai or Wee-Fee, but you could let me know in the comments below

Today is women’s day and in the wake of the many horrifying stories we’ve been hearing from the #MeToo movement, it seems like a good time to reflect on our implicit or explicit assumptions about gender, and how they are affecting our work, life and relationships.

As this blog is mostly about networking (and just very slightly about gender dynamics), I’d like to take the opportunity to share the story of the 1940s Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr. In her days, she was mostly appreciated for looking incredibly sexy, while her scientific achievements attracted little attention.

Meanwhile, she was in fact one of the people that pioneered frequency hopping spread spectrum technology: a way to transmit a wireless signal while rapidly switching between frequency channels. This makes it harder to intercept the signal and also reduces interference with other sources.

The idea, during World War II, was intended to help allied submarines launch radio-controlled missiles, in a way the Germans wouldn’t be able to detect or jam. Still, Hedy was told she’d best help the war effort as a pin-up girl, cheering on the troops.

Eventually, her invention turned out to be a foundational building block, upon which modern communication technologies like WiFi and Bluetooth are constructed.

Bombshell is the documentary about Hedy Lamarr’s life. I’m hoping to catch it one of these days.