Giving your network data a mind of its own

Credit:  M. SCOTT BRAUER

The term "Cognitive Radio" is one that might sound very sci-fi. In reality, the concept — that of a radio antenna that can broadcast across whichever frequency is most unused — is over 15 years old. But in a world where bandwidth is king, the carcass of Cognitive Radio is being given new life, thanks to a pair of researchers at MIT.

Professor Dana Weinstein and grad student Laura Popa have improved and miniaturized the filtering technology necessary to create a smart antenna. In fact, the miniaturization has gone so far as to fit 14 times as many filters on a chip as was previously possible, all while actually improving the performance of each.

That's small enough to get some serious Cognitive Radio functionality out of your smartphone. That functionality, plain and simple, is bandwidth. By searching for frequencies usually reserved for things like radio stations or over-the-air TV, Cognitive Radio can grab frequencies for your data needs that would otherwise be sitting idle.

Imagine your very own data stream, powered by an off-the air cable access channel's frequency. The second that channel comes back on, mucking up your data, your phone finds another clear frequency for you. It's like an open country road for your data.

Via MIT News

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