Researchers from the York University, Toronto and their UK-based counterparts, who texted the message ‘O Canada’ using evaporated vodka, say their simple system can be used where conventional wireless technology fails.
“Chemical signals can offer a more efficient way of transmitting data inside tunnels, pipelines or deep underground structures,” said Professor Andrew Eckford, in whose lab the experiment was conducted.
The chemical signal, using the alcohol in vodka, was sent four meters across the lab with the aid of a tabletop fan. It was then extracted by a receiver that measured the rate of change in concentration of the alcohol molecules, picking up whether the concentration was increasing or decreasing.
“We believe we have sent the world’s first text message to be transmitted entirely with molecular communication, controlling concentration levels of the alcohol molecules to encode the alphabet, with single spray representing bits and no spray representing the bit zero,” says York University doctoral candidate Nariman Farsad, who led the experiment.
Though use of chemical signals is a new method in human communication technology, the bio-compatible method is very common in the animal kingdom. Bees, for example, use chemicals in pheromones when there is a threat to the hive, and so does the Canadian lnyx when marking its territory.
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