A wireless radio that is twice as fast

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WASHINGTON - Researchers, several of them of Indian origin, have developed the first wireless radio that can send and receive signals at the same time. This makes them twice as fast as existing technology.

“Textbooks say you can’t do it,” said Philip Levis, assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering at Stanford University. “The new system completely reworks our assumption of how wireless networks can be designed,” a Stanford statement quoted him as saying.

Cell phone networks allow users to talk and listen simultaneously, but they use a workaround that is expensive and requires careful planning, making the technique less feasible for other wireless networks, including Wi-Fi.

A trio of electrical engineering graduate students, Jung Il Choi, Mayank Jain and Kannan Srinivasan, began working on a new approach when they came up with a seemingly simple idea.

In most wireless networks, each device has to take turns speaking or listening. “It’s like two people shouting messages to each other at the same time,” said Levis. “If both people are shouting at the same time, neither of them will hear the other.”

It took the students several months to figure out how to build the new radio, with help from Levis and Sachin Katti, assistant professor of computer science and of electrical engineering.

The group has a provisional patent on the technology and is working to commercialise it. They are currently trying to increase both the strength of the transmissions and the distances over which they work.

Filed under: Science and Technology

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