WIRELESS DATALINS FOR DRONES
The aviation industry isn’t exactly known for being a wireless networking trendsetter. When we fly a commercial airline, we’re lucky if we can check email in-flight. Even if we can do that,bandwidth is usually pretty limited.But Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) — or drones, as they’re more popularly known — stand to help change that. Academic and industry researchers are now working to make long-distance, high-speed wireless networking feasible. Their research is geared toward streamlining communication between UAVs and manned aircraft, which will no doubt be a hot topic as drones continue to explode in popularity, and take on a greater presence in the skies.
The work has broader implications in the aviation industry and beyond, however. For instance, it’s easy to imagine trains and cars (including those headless ones Google now has roving around), also benefitting from wireless networks that can sustain high bandwidth, across wide distances, at high speeds.
On the topic of major advances in wireless communications, researchers at the University of Washington are working to open new doors in the Wi-Fi world by “backscattering” wireless signals. That means re-using existing radio frequency signals instead of generating new ones. Because the devices don’t generate their own radio signals, they also don’t need any energy to operate.
Imagine being able to use wireless signals for networking where access to power is limited or non-existent and you get a sense of the tremendous possibilities for this new technology.
EXPRESSIVE INTERNET ARCHITECTURE
In a way, this is a more realistic take on the work the 4D network researchers are pursuing. The eXpressive Internet Architecture, or XIA, project aims to build “a single network that offers inherent support for communication between current communicating principals — including hosts, content, and services — while accommodating unknown future entities.”
In other words, the researchers want to engineer a new one-size-fits-all system for network communications that does away with the convoluted and ad hoc mechanisms on which modern networks often rely. Like the 4D network project, XIA also has a strong focus on providing better security than existing standards can provide.
While it’s not strictly network-related, quantum computing is fast becoming a more realistic prospect for practical applications. For now, a few laws of physics still stand in the way of unlocking the unfathomable computational speed that quantum hardware stands to deliver. But don’t discount it as the foundation for the IT world of the future. With Google, among others, investing heavily in quantum research, it might only be a matter of time before humanity unlocks the secret to rocketing away from the zeroes and ones of present-day microprocessing.