Browse Prior Art Database

Portable Wireless Network Signal Detector

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000031424D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Sep-24
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Sep-24
Document File: 1 page(s) / 30K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Portable Wireless Network Signal Detectors

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Portable Wireless Network Signal Detector

Mobile workers may not know where wireless networks are available to them, because they are invisible and people often do not publish their existance. Sometimes people have wireless LANs in their homes or businesses that are not secured, and they wouldn't mind if someone else were to "piggyback" on their network. It would be nice to be able to take advantage of these networks when they're available, or to be able to quickly find an area with good wireless reception. (This idea could apply to other types of wireless connections, like Bluetooth, but I'll use an 802.11b network as my example.)

You can currently find a wireless network by inserting a wireless adapter card into your laptop, powering on your laptop, and using its "site survey" function to find an access point. Recently a few keychain-sized wireless network detectors have come onto the market. On those, you press a button and a set of LEDs lights up to indicate whether you are in range of a wireless network. Using this, you can easily walk around until you find a signal, and set up your wireless network client (whether it be a laptop, or soon, a WiFi phone) in that area.

Another implementation that is workable and inexpensive is to make a docking station for someone's existing wireless PCI card. The docking station would have a battery to power the wireless card, and it would use the card's antenna to pick up and interpret signals. The docking station would have very simple "site survey" software, and it would light up and/or beep to indicate when a wireless network connection is available. The detector could have different indicators for encrypted networks and non-encrypted networks. You could use the encrypted network connection if you know the passcode, and you were just using the detector to find a location with good reception. You could use the non-en...