Great Australian Inventions: Wifi

Great Australian Inventions: Wifi
February 4, 2020 Prime Engineering

Aussie inventions are everywhere and we are talking about more than just Vegemite. The world would not be where it is today if it wasn’t for Australian ingenuity. At Prime Engineering, problem-solving and great engineering is our forte and we love stories about projects that have revolutionised our world! One of the widest spread and substantial inventions to come out of this great country is Wi-Fi! Developed by an educated and skilled team, they helped to connect the globe wirelessly.

John O’Sullivan, an Australian physicist, and engineer was inspired by Steven Hawking’s theory of evaporating black holes and subsequent radio waves sent out to find them. O’Sullivan worked on a project revolving around this theory, building a device that isolated flattened signals in a waveform that they had generated but unfortunately, their intention for the project was not fulfilled. The research and education about this topic did not go to waste on O’Sullivan, however, as during his employment at the CSIRO, he was tasked with the challenge of inventing a way for computers to communicate without the use of wires. This is when the WLAN was born!

A WLAN is a Wireless Local Area Network and it formed the basis for Wi-Fi that we use today. O’Sullivan recalled the tools and the mathematics that he had used previously to detect radio signals and reworked it to fulfil this purpose. The invention was not just the doing of a one-man band, however. O’Sullivan credits his incredibly skilled and intelligent team of mathematicians, engineers, and physicists who worked together to make Wi-Fi happen as well.

Wi-Fi was invented in the 90s and patented in 1992 in Australia and 1996 in the USA. The technology is now licensed to 23 telecommunication companies around the world. Wi-Fi has been used in over 9 billion devices and has no projection of slowing down soon, especially with the Internet of Things on the rise. Ironically, despite inventing the foundations of Wi-Fi, Australia has some of the slowest Internet broadband speeds in the developed world and sits directly behind Kazakstan, Oman and India.

At Prime Engineering, innovation excites us and inventions like Wi-Fi that we use every day help us to do what we do best and connect with our customers and the world. Engineering is hiding around us in ways that the untrained eye would struggle to see. If you have spotted an engineering problem in your business, we are here to help with customised solutions! Contact us today to see how we can help.