Five cool wireless research projects worth checking out

Here's a whirlwind tour of some of the more intriguing projects underway at schools and labs across the United States

DARPA's adaptive battlefield wireless plan

A new Department of Defense project is trying to use cutting-edge wireless research to create a tactical radio network that can adapt to keep soldiers linked with one another on the battlefield.

Project WAND (for Wireless Adaptive Network Development) will exploit commercial radio components rather than custom ones, and use a variety of software techniques and algorithms, many of them only just now emerging in mature form. These US$500 walkie-talkie-size radios will form large-scale, peer-to-peer ad hoc networks, which can shift frequencies, sidestep interference and handle a range of events that today completely disrupt wireless communications.

WAND is an attempt to create low-cost radios with intelligent network software that does several things to make communications more pervasive, more efficient and more reliable in the battlefield. Read more about this project here.

Security architecture emerges for first responders

Princeton University researchers say they have come up with a new way to transmit crucial rescue information securely to first responders to such situations as natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

The new architecture supports what Princeton electrical engineering professor Ruby Lee calls "transient trust" -- that is, the ability to swap sensitive data, such as floor plans of a building or personal medical information, securely on an as-needed basis. A paper called "Hardware-rooted Trust for Secure Key Management and Transient Trust" has been authored by ex-HP computer architect Lee (who leads the Princeton Architecture Lab for Multimedia and Security [PALMS]) and graduate student Jeffrey Dwoskin. The paper describes outfitting such devices as the handheld computers used by first responders with elements dubbed a "device root key" and a "storage root hash" to enable temporary access to information.

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