By Eric Griffith
March 9, 2004
Need to find a Wi-Fi signal but hate having to boot up the laptop to do it? PCTEL feels your pain.
The Chicago-based company, which makes the Segue Roaming Client software that allows computers to connect to available Wi-Fi and cellular networks, is working with hardware designer Chrysalis Development to create a Wi-Fi finder device around the size of a key chain.
As with products like the WiFi Finder from Kensington and the Wi-Fi Detector from SmartID, you simply push a button and the unit will light up when a Wi-Fi signal is available. There will be four light emitting diodes (LEDs) on the unit; the more that light up, the stronger the signal.
Ognjen Redzic, director of wireless product management for PCTEL says the unit they’ll put out will be significantly smaller than others on the market; it will be about the size of a car remote door opener. However, just like the others on the market, it can’t tell you anything beyond the presence of 802.11g/b signals in the area. Even if the WLAN detected is locked down and allows no strangers on board, the signals will still register on the detector.
“If there’s a Wi-Fi signal, that’s all it can tell. You need more logic in the device to see if it’s something you can authenticate with,” says Redzic.
Chrysalis is engineering the design of the units, which will be manufactured by an unnamed third party. PCTEL will sell the hardware to its carrier customers, branded with the carrier name if specified, and the carrier can then either sell them or provide them for free to end users.
“If you have a laptop on your shoulder and you’re wondering if there’s Wi-Fi, it can take two or three minutes to boot up and get the OS going before you can scan [for signals],” says Redzic. “This unit can tell you a quick yes or no.”
Last year, PCTEL also shipped a product for Pocket PCs called Segue Analyzer, which is directed toward network administrators looking to do more testing for interferance in radio frequencies, detect rogue APs and more.