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    ASIA - Taming the Wireless Wilderness

    Fall 2013

    Richard Harth

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    A haystack of wireless gadgets is growing by the day. From cell phones, tablets, and laptops to e-readers, baby monitors, and satellite-guidance systems, these tools have become our steady companions.

    Photo: Michael Goss

    As IIT faculty members Xiang-Yang Li (Ph.D. CS '01) and Erdal Oruklu (Ph.D. CPE '05) explain, there's trouble on the wireless ranch. Studies point to a 6,000 percent increase in mobile-data transmission since the advent of smartphones, threatening the entire system with a snarl of virtual traffic.

    "All wireless communication signals travel over air using a specific radio frequency, or spectrum," Li says. "If multiple stations transmit over the same radio frequency simultaneously in the same location, the result is interference and signal loss for the receivers."

    One promising approach to an overpopulated spectrum—cognitive radio (CR)—is the focus of Li's and Oruklu"s new project, funded by a $498,122 grant from the National Science Foundation.

    Li is a professor in the Department of Computer Science and director of IIT's Wireless Network Research Laboratory. He has been actively involved in the design and instrumentation of two large-scale wireless networking systems, GreenOrbs and CitySee, which carry out real-time ecological surveillance through thousands of wireless sensor nodes in an urban section of Wuxi City, China.

    Oruklu, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of the Very Large Scale Integration and System-on-a-Chip Research Laboratory, will oversee hardware and software development as well as related circuits for CR devices.

    As Li, principal investigator on the project, explains, "Cognitive radios are capable of monitoring, sensing, and detecting the conditions of their operating environment, and they can dynamically reconfigure their own behavior to best match those conditions."

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