WiFi is now considered by many a basic human right. There is a pyramid of basic human rights that people should not be denied. We should be allowed to pursue self-actualization through creativity, problem-solving, and spontaneity. We should be entitled to have self-esteem and confidence. We should have our social needs satisfied with family and friends. We should have safety and security. We should have our physiological needs of survival – air, water, shelter, food, sleep, and sex. In 2016, a report from the Human Rights Council declared that access to the internet should be part of this pyramid.
Depending on your age you may be able to remember a time when you accessed the internet through a fixed cable. Today, although some offices still use a direct line, most of us access the internet through WiFI. WiFi has changed so much about internet access as it takes your strong signal and broadcasts it through your entire home allowing you to connect while in bed, on the couch, or walking around the house. It has been used by mobile providers to offer strong connections in urban and rural environments where cables can’t reach. To put it lightly yet bluntly, WiFi has revolutionized how we access the internet and how many people can access the internet. It has changed the world.
How did it come about and who should we thank for this miraculous technology? There are two heroes to thank. One is a name you will know and one is a name you should know and hopefully will remember from now on. The inventor of WiFi is a man named John O’Sullivan. His inspiration is a man named Stephen Hawking.
John O’Sullivan was a huge fan of Hawking when he was a young physicist. Stephen Hawking had a theory about black holes that evaporate and leave behind radio waves. O’Sullivan tried to create a technology that could find these radio waves. The tool he created basically identified and filtered out specific radio waves with the hope of leaving the blackhole waves behind. Although the technology appeared to work they had no success in finding the black hole radio waves.
Years later O’Sullivan was working at CSIRO and was asked to create something that would allow computers to communicate without wires, no easy task. He went back to his previous research and by altering it slightly was able to use the technology to search out for radio waves that could be used to send and receive information. CSIRO has already earned about $1 billion in royalties from this invention. O’Sullivan too has patented it in Australia in 1992 and internationally in 1996.
Throughout his career, O’Sullivan has been recognized for his contribution to science. He was given the Prime minister’s Prize for Science in 2009 and most recently won the Ibuke Consumer Electronics Award in 2017 for contributions to high-speed wireless LAN technology. His impact on the world of communications that we live in today can’t be overstated.
Stephen Hawking also deserves a thank you and credit for WiFi. While he had nothing to do with the actual invention, he was the inspiration. It would be amazing to find out how much of an inspiration Hawking has served to the world. His ability to see problems differently and to push the envelope of science has no doubt led humanity to better things and to a brighter future. We hope that the next generation and the generations that follow can continue to produce such great minds so that the advancement of our society can continue. Who knows what incredible inventions lay on the horizon.