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New software alleviates wireless traffic

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Posted April 12, 2013

The explosive popularity of wireless devices—from WiFi laptops to Bluetooth headsets to ZigBee sensor nodes—is increasingly clogging the airwaves, resulting in dropped calls, wasted bandwidth and botched connections. New software being developed at the University of Michigan works like a stoplight to control the traffic and dramatically reduce interference.

The software, GapSense, lets these devices that can’t normally talk to one another exchange simple stop and warning messages so their communications collide less often. GapSense creates a common language of energy pulses and gaps. The length of the gaps conveys the stop or warning message. Devices could send them at the start of a communication, or in between information packets to let other gadgets in the vicinity know about their plans.

“All these devices are supposed to perform their designated functions but they’re using the same highway and fighting for space,” said Kang Shin, the Kevin and Nancy O’Connor Professor of Computer Science at U-M. “Since they don’t have a direct means of communicating with each other because they use different protocols, we thought, ‘How can we coordinate them so that each can perform their functions while minimizing interference with the others?'”

The researchers tested GapSense and found that it could reduce interference by more than 88 percent on some networks with diverse devices. Shin and Xinyu Zhang, a former doctoral student in electrical engineering and computer science, will present the work April 18 at the IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications in Turin, Italy.

Read more at: Phys.org

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