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.