Intelligent Reflecting Surfaces Can Giveth Or Taketh Away
Can Stop The Signal, Mal
Intelligent reflecting surfaces are able to modify radio-frequency signals which reflect off them, without requiring an active power source and may become common in many structures in the coming years. The Register compares it to the acoustical engineering designs in theatres, cathedrals and concert halls to improve sound reflections via physical designs, albeit in this case it is software which modifies the signals. By embedding tunable chips in a wall or other surface, with a controller that can control how those chips alter the the surface to enhance reflectivity and minimize any distortion.
The power of the signal itself is enough to provide enough power for the chip to communicate with the controller and receive instructions on how to best send that signal on it’s way. That passive operation is what makes IRS interesting compared to the current active signal boosters usually used and one day may become a common feature in buildings; we aren’t quite at the point that you can paint this on your walls quite yet.
The reason it is currently in the news is because of research from ArXiv, which includes members from universities in Australia, China, Singapore, and South Korea. They’ve proposed a way to change how IRS reacts to signals to make them antagonistic in nature and degrade or even completely absorb RF signals instead. Thanks to the fact that IRS do not require power it would make the change almost impossible to detect, at least until your building starts developing dead spots.
There are some tricks to making this very theoretical hack work, which you can learn about here if you are interested.
In a paper distributed through ArXiv, a group of boffins from universities in Australia, China, Singapore, and South Korea describe a technique that uses intelligent reflecting surface (IRS) technology, an emerging wireless signal optimization scheme, to interfere with signals instead of enhancing them.