February 22, 2018 Nathan Gittins

WiFi-in-a-Box – The Napkin Idea

I’ve been getting regular questions about extending WiFi for one-off situations. Things like…. “Can we get WiFi down on the back oval for sports day or for some major event?” or “Is there a cheaper option as it’s costing us and our staff to use 3G or 4G to access the school network or cloud”. Normally I’d say yes to these questions and design something up on the fly and quote it, but these type of events only happen once or twice a year and it can be a costly project. The installation of this gear generally costs more than the actual gear itself, this is due to the need for boom lifts, labour, cabling and then the hardware.

The Solution to the Problem

Then I got thinking….what we need is a “Wifi-in-a-Box”. We need a way to implement quality WiFi that’s affordable, flexible and mobile. Firstly, I started investigating to see if this idea had already been invented but nothing suitable presented itself. The first ideas I drew on a napkin, and then I started developing it.

We are now eight months into development from the initial idea and are already up to version three. The idea being self-explanatory by the name “WiFi in a Box”. It sounds pretty simple, right? But in reality has presented a number of challenges to still meet the initial needs; to be affordable, flexible and mobile.

Ideas Inspiration

I will expand on this project in more detail in coming posts, but wanted to emphasise if you have an idea don’t discard it! If you are not an inventor, but are an ideas person… give it a go! Look around and glean. It can be challenging and fun! Look into how the entrepreneurs of today think. Learn from them and go with your unique idea.

We think up ideas when we look around us and try to fulfill a need that may be lacking, whether it be in our home, social or work life.  When we think of ideas… should we reinvent the wheel or use an existing wheel to bring that idea to a reality?

I don’t have the natural ability to invent something completely new, but I’m good at using existing ideas, picking up bits and pieces and bringing it all together to create something new. You can keep costs down by using what you have lying around the shed, or using second hand products to help build your prototype. Create small scale first and when you get the idea right then expand.  We’ve already created some unique problem-solvers at Laminar by using this approach, such as covers for WiFi arrays in heritage-listed buildings.

With my “WiFi-in-a-box idea” I was looking for air vents and wanted to keep the rain out of this box.  I looked at the Telstra FTTN boxes for inspiration. I also looked at buildings, shopping centres and the like. I’ll be exhausting all avenues until I find the simplest solution.

I hope this blog gives you a little ideas inspiration for solving your next challenge. Open your mind! You never know, you just might rethink something that will be the next big idea!

Happy Inventing!

About the Author

Nathan Gittins Nathan is a highly skilled Information Technology Professional with more than 15 years experience. Nathan is a Senior Sales Engineer at Laminar where he creates, implements and integrates network designs. Through always striving to achieve the best network solutions he develops successful business relationships with Clients, Vendors and Partners.