First Vodka-Powered Text Message Gets in the Canadian Spirit

By: | January 5th, 2014

Besides being one of the most popular spirits in the world, Vodka may also be useful for sending text messages now. The new way of text messaging through chemical systems opens the door to a new era of ‘molecular communication.’

This technological innovation shows that instead of relying on invisible radio signals only, it’s possible to send the data through air using chemicals. Though use of chemical signals could be a new method of communication for us, it’s very common in the animal kingdom. Some birds and animals use scents to communicate with each other … we have all seen dogs and cats marking their territory.

For us, this chemical mode of communication could be useful in transmitting messages in challenging environments like big tunnels, never ending pipelines and deep underground structures.

How did they do it? Scientists at Toronto’s York University and UK’s Warwick University programmed a computer to understand binary signals … a single spray representing bit 1 and lack of spray representing bit 0. The chemical signal, using the vodka, was sent four meters (roughly 13 feet) across the lab with the aid of a tabletop fan.

The first message was “O Canada” from Canada’s national anthem. They sprayed the vodka at the receiver in various patterns (increasing or decreasing the concentration) and the receiver decoded these sprays into the message, “O Canada!”

Molecular communication can be very useful in future medicines to carry out a specific task such as targeting drugs to cancer cells. The scientists say they’ve invented a system that could be used when conventional wireless technology fails. See a demo of their experiment:

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. You can also find Nidhi on Google+.

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