Although the term “radio waves” is frequently used in day-to-day life and conversations, many people still do not know how these waves work and, more importantly, what types of technology utilize radio waves.
Moreover, as radio waves can represent significant harm to one’s health, make sure to read this article until the end and learn everything you need to know regarding the connection between radio waves and the technology we use daily.
What Types of Technology Utilize Radio Waves?
Since discovering radio waves, they have been greatly used in various types of technological devices. As electromagnetic radiation with the longest wavelengths, about 300 gigahertz (GHz) and below, radio waves have found their way into our everyday life exposing us to constant radiation and to constant health hazards and danger.
With this fact in mind and with the fact that nowadays, almost every device uses radio waves, it is no wonder that people started asking and becoming curious about what types of technology utilize radio waves. To quench their curiosity regarding this question, I did thorough research on this topic, and you can see the findings in the continuation of the article.
Radio communication systems
The first and most widespread type of technology that uses radio waves is the radio communication system. These systems represent a part of everyone’s household, so the chances that you are exposed to radio waves are extremely high.
In these systems, the information is carried across space with the help of radio waves. At the sending end, the particular information is converted by a transducer into a time-varying electrical signal, which is also known as the modulation signal.
This modulation signal can be an audio signal, video signal, or digital signal. It is applied to a radio transmitter where the electronic oscillator generates the altering current oscillating at a radio frequency.
Moreover, depending on the type of radio system, the modulation methods can be:
- FM (frequency modulation) – in this type of FM transmitter, the radio carrier wave’s frequency is varied by the modulation signal
- AM (amplitude modulation) – in the AM transmitters, the strength or the amplitude of the radio carrier wave is always varied by the modulation signal
- OFDM (orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing) – complicated digital modulation methods widely used in cellphones, digital audio broadcasting, Wi-Fi networks, and digital television broadcasting
- FSK (frequency-shift keying) – this is utilized in wireless digital devices to transmit digital signals
After seeing what radio communication systems are, it is time to see what types of technology utilize radio waves, and the first one is radio broadcasting. This technology is basically the transmission of audio (sound) by radio waves to particular radio receivers that belong to a public audience.
If we are speaking of terrestrial radio broadcasting, the radio waves here are being broadcasted by a land-based radio station. On the other hand, while speaking of satellite radio, here, the radio waves are broadcasted in Earth’s orbit by a satellite.
Then, if the receiver wants to receive these signals and content, they must have a broadcast radio receiver or simply a radio.
The television, as you already know, is a medium to transmit sound and moving images. When answering what types of technology utilize radio waves, many people do not include television because they simply think radio waves are only used by radios. But, the interesting thing is that television uses radio waves to transfer signals from one end (the TV station) to another (the viewer).
Additionally, the most famous and widely-used types of television that utilize radio waves are cable television and satellite television, which were more popular in the last century before Internet television took over.
Two-way radios are one of the most practical devices that use radio waves because they represent an audio (sound) transceiver, a transmitter, and a receiver, all in one unit. They are available in various types and forms of devices that include bidirectional person-to-person communication, such as stationary (base station), hand-held portable models, and mobile (installed in vehicles).
In the last decade, mobile phones have been the number one utilized device that uses radio waves. These devices use radio waves to make and receive calls from one mobile phone to another through a radio frequency link. Thanks to this link, you can establish a connection with another person’s mobile device by simultaneously accessing the public switched telephone network (PSTN).
Communications satellites are artificial satellites that utilize, amplify, and relay radio telecommunication signals through a transponder. These communication satellites have the ability to create a communication channel between one end (source transmitter) and another end (receiver) at completely different locations on Earth.
Also, communication satellites are mainly utilized for telephone, military applications, radio, internet, and television, which through the help of radio waves, can deliver content to any household or place without any obstacles.
Ultimately, the radio waves utilized by the communication satellites travel by line of sight, which enables the radio waves to travel to different geographical areas easily.
As more and more devices, appliances, tools, and whatnot work through wireless, wireless networking use is drastically increasing. As a result, the radio waves around us are increasing at a rapid pace. The most popular wireless network examples are wireless local area networks (WLANs), satellite communication networks, terrestrial microwave networks, wireless sensor networks, cell phone networks, etc.
The second type of technology that utilizes radio waves is the navigation system of devices. Here you can find the global positioning system (GPS), navigational beacons, radiolocation, and radars.
Global positioning system (GPS)
The global positioning system or GPS is a device and a satellite-based radio navigation system that provides time information and geolocation to a GPS receiver anywhere on Earth by using radio waves.
The more modern example of navigational beacons usually includes a variety of radio beacons that can be shown and read on radio direction finders and radar transponders which can appear on radar displays.
Radiolocation uses radar to find a distant object passively. This process is also widely used in real-time locating systems (RTLS) for tracking valuable assets through the help of radio wave technology.
Finally, as you probably already know, radar is a detection system that uses radio waves to determine the angle, radial velocity, and distance (ranging) of particular objects relative to the area or site.