From listening to the radio in a car to talking to air traffic controllers, radio waves are used in more ways than one. They are part of an electromagnetic spectrum, along with light, gamma rays, and microwaves, among others.
Different technologies utilize radio waves. Radio communication, air traffic control, navigation systems, and mobile phones are some examples of the uses of radio waves.
Curious about what types of technology utilize radio waves? Read on and we’ll answer that question in this post.
Table of Contents
What Are Radio Waves? How Do They Work?
First, let’s get technical and define radio waves. From this definition, you can also have an idea of how the radio wave technology works.
The electromagnetic spectrum has different radiation types. Radio waves are the first in the spectrum. In the simplest sense, they are waves from radio and TV broadcasts, as well as cellular networks.
There’s a reason why radio waves appear first on the spectrum, followed by microwave, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet, x-ray, and gamma ray. It’s because radio is the wave with the lowest energy.
While they are the lowest in terms of energy level, the wavelength of radio waves are the longest in the spectrum.
Different components are essential for the radio waves to work. It needs a transmitter, which is what produces the waves. On the other hand, a receiver detects the radio signal that these waves create.
An antenna acts as the bridge, allowing transmitters to send energy and receivers to pick them up.
While we’re already at the topic, allow us to briefly touch on the dangers of radio waves. While there have been concerns about its health implications, the National Cancer Institute notes that it isn’t a significant health issue.
What is It Used for?
As noted above, there are many uses of radio waves in everyday life. You might not realize that you use them in many tasks that you accomplish.
Below are some of the things that use radio waves:
- AM and FM radio
- TV broadcast
- Cellular networks
- Air traffic control
- Satellite communication
- Remote-controlled toys
- Hospital services
What Kinds of Technology Utilize Radio Waves?
In this part of the post, we’ll discuss the applications of radio waves in specific technologies.
1. Radio and TV Broadcasting
If we are going to list two uses for radio waves, it would include radio and TV communication.
In radios, radio waves encode sounds that travel in the atmosphere. A receiver detects its presence and converts it into the sound you can hear from the radio. There are two ways by which it is encoded:
- Amplitude Modulation (AM): The carrier wave retains the same frequency while the amplitude of the sound wave changes
- Frequency Modulation (FM): The amplitude remains the same while the frequency changes
Meanwhile, in TV, the radio waves use frequency modulation for encoding sound. On the other hand, the pictures appear on the screen because of amplitude modulation.
2. Air Traffic Control
From communicating with other aircrafts on the air to talking to on-ground personnel, radio waves are utilized in air traffic control.
Various frequencies of radio waves are utilized depending on the specific purpose. In most cases, it utilizes ultra-high frequency for tracking systems. On the other hand, very-high frequency is used for communications.
3. Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Medical procedures also utilize radio waves on the electromagnetic spectrum, including MRI. However, one of the most important things to note is that the radio waves used in MRI are generated by a computer.
The machine used in MRI works by creating a strong magnetic field. With the help of these magnets, your body’s water molecules change position during the procedure. In turn, radio signals allow these molecules to create signals that a computer can read.
4. Radio-Controlled Toys
Radio waves used for remote-controlled toys work in the same way as the technologies mentioned above. It uses specific frequencies that connect the toy to a remote.
The transmitter, which you will find in the remote control of the toy, generates a control signal that travels to the transmitter. In turn, it causes the motor to produce a specific action. Most of them will operate at a frequency similar to garage door openers and walkie-talkies.
After reading this short post, we hope you’re already aware of what types of technology utilize radio waves. As mentioned, they can include radio and TV broadcasts, air traffic control, magnetic resonance imaging, and radio-controlled toys.
Interesting article you can read:
- Light Waves, X-rays, or Radio Waves: Which Have the Longest Wavelength?
- 5 Effective Methods to Block Radio Waves in Your House
Hi, I am Amaro Frank – the Wind Up Radio’s content editor and writer. Working with Adam is so much fun, as his stories and experiences enrich my knowledge about radio communications and radio accessories. My main tasks in Wind Up Radio are building content and generating great articles on different topics around radio accessories.