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Radio-frequency (RF) noise is around us everywhere. The sources of RF pollution come from things like electric motors, digital appliances, and industrial machinery. All these machines and devices are sending out signals across a range of frequencies which can interfere with other devices.
Imagine now what happens when we now start deploying thousands or millions or even billions more tiny Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices, each equipped with a transmitter or a way to connect to the Internet. RF pollution will undoubtedly increase, and so also will the likelihood that device transmissions will interfere with each other.
“The coming Internet of Things is going to make things worse. Much worse. It will do so by adding complex RF-control chips to countless common devices, like door locks, light switches, appliances of every type, our cars, and maybe even our bodies, which will enable them to connect to the Internet. Each of these chips is a potential source of noise. Plenty of technological fixes are available, of course, but the huge number of chips means that manufacturers will be more reluctant to add costly shielding and other noise-muffling features to their products,” write Mark A. McHenry, Dennis Roberson and Robert J. Matheson in an IEEE article.
Wireless phones are likely victims of RF pollution. On the one hand, devices like cellphones are being made to work using the lowest amount of power possible, but that can also result in devices that are more susceptible to RF interference.
Solutions to the RF pollution problem are complicated by the fact that actually very little data has been collected about RF pollution. We know it’s out there, but there have been few studies to measure how much there is, or to find out where there are RF pollution hotspots, or to know which devices are most likely to interfere with each other. That kind of research just hasn’t been done. But RF pollution is a problem that can ultimately cause very serious problems if we continue to ignore it.