Special Paint Can Keep Your Wi-Fi Private

It's no secret that Wi-Fi is not the most secure way of accessing the Internet. Even with encryption, wireless internet is about as secure as a screen door.

If you're like me, living in close-quarters in the college-student-heavy population of Boston, seeing several, sometimes dozens, of wireless networks in your wireless connection window is commonplace. Sometimes it can be advantageous, like if your roommate forgets to pay the Comcast bill, you can always "borrow" your upstairs neighbors wireless until yours is reactivated. However, as a Tom's reader, you're likely doing anything and everything to try and keep your Wi-Fi signal yours and yours alone.

Well, thanks to a research team out of the University of Tokyo, your Wi-Fi may be safe from mooching neighbors and hacker villains. While using special paint to block wireless signals is nothing new, using said paint for Wi-Fi is. Keeping the technical talk short, current radio-resistant paint can block signals 50GHz and below. "The latest wireless communications tend to use electromagnetic waves with a frequency of over 100GHz plus," according to PC World. The research team now claims it now has a paint that can effectively block the higher frequency wireless signals.

Shin-ichi Ohkoshi's team at the university has discovered a new aluminum-iron oxide that can block frequencies up to 182GHz. "We collaborated with DOWA Electronics, a Japanese industrial company, to make a 100-kilogram sample order," said Ohkoshi. "The manufacturing cost is very cheap, around £10 (USD $14) per kg." Using aluminum and iron, two very attainable materials, this paint should enter the market at a reasonable price point.

According to the researchers, the bonds between iron and oxygen are the distorted, usual shape, which apparently gives the paint its magnetic properties. Further study should also lead to identifying new compounds that can absorb even higher frequencies.

Next time (or decade) you go into Sherman Williams or Home Depot to redecorate your office, keep an eye peeled for this Wi-Fi-resistant paint.

Devin Connors currently works as a community manager for Rocket League at Psyonix Studios, but he was previously a senior editor at Tom's Guide, writing about gaming, phones, and pretty much every other tech category. His work has also appeared in publications including Shacknews, GameZone, The Escapist, Machinima, and more. 

  • Marcus Yam
    Interesting technology, except I can't help but think that you're literally painting yourself in a corner.

    Put another way, this is akin to locking down your house so tightly that not only can no one get in, but you can't get out either.

    For the purpose of keeping Wi-Fi private, the blocking of signals is what you want -- but what if the time comes when you need to leech off the signal of others?
  • You guys know that wireless is 2.4 GHz and 5.2 GHz for the newer stuff right? The "old" paint that will block signals below 50 GHz is way more then enough....
  • StupidRabbit
    im not sure "honey, we need to repaint the house because im too lazy to set up a WPA encryption" (in a packed neighborhood) is a good enough excuse... unless they have the color your wife loves!!!!
  • nekatreven
    GhostMonkeyYou guys know that wireless is 2.4 GHz and 5.2 GHz for the newer stuff right? The "old" paint that will block signals below 50 GHz is way more then enough....
    Yea, that stuff has blocked wifi for some time now. A bit off on that part I think.
  • A 10 chars, upper and lower case letters only, random passphrase (for AES-128) assures you a computer with 2 4870x2 would still need more than 20.000 years to hack it.

    Just use 20 chars to be on the safe side and forget it.
  • monkeysweat
    Whatif I want to use my cellphone in my house,,,would I be blocking that, too?

    Also,,,what about the windows? I don't know about you guys,,but I got windows in every room in my house,,,,
  • I'd prefer Ethernet.
  • trkorecky
    Wouldn't this be counter-intuitive unless you only painted the outside of your house or the walls that line the outside? Else you'd just be trapping the signal from the router into a single room in your house, no?
  • StupidRabbit
    KrenkI'd prefer Ethernet.well.. once youve got wifi its hard do go back. its a little counter productive if you already have a router set up. but the cellphone question is a good one.
  • kittle
    I would think that would make it really hard to make an outgoing cellphone call?