Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Wireless Technology

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Wireless Technology

Article excerpt

"Wireless communication is a one-way street. Over."

Radio traffic can flow in only one direction at a time on a specific frequency, that's why pilots, air traffic controllers, walkie-talkie users, and emergency personnel use "over" when they take turns speaking.

But now, Stanford University researchers have developed the first wireless radios that can send and receive signals at the same time. This makes them twice as fast as existing technology, and with further tweaking, will likely lead to even faster and more efficient networks in the future.

"Textbooks say you can't do it," says Philip Levis, assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering. "The new system completely reworks our assumptions about how wireless networks can be designed."

Cell phone networks allow users to talk and listen simultaneously, but they use a work-around 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: What if radios could do the same thing our brains do when we listen and talk simultaneously--screen out the sound of our own voice?

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," says Levis. "If both people are shouting at the same time, neither of them will hear the other."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

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 electrical engineering. …

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