GapSense Allows Communication Between WiFi, Bluetooth, ZigBee Devices

With the growing presence of various wireless transmitting devices communicating over several different frequency bands, a means for communication among these distinct devices is necessary for optimal trafficking of airwaves.

WiFi reigns supreme in the wireless networking domain, accounting for more than 321 million WiFi-enabled devices in the US alone. With the addition of Bluetooth devices and the nascent ZigBee communication protocol operating under the same frequency range as WiFi, airway traffic jams can occur, causing inefficient use of bandwidth seen as reduced transfer speeds, longer wait times, and choppy service. A team of researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor are in the process of developing a new software --
GapSense -- that will enable thorough communication between these different protocols for a much improved, wireless rush-hour free networks.

WiFi, ZigBee, and Bluetooth protocols all work using the IEEE 802 standard -- the issue arises due to their varying protocols acting as distinct languages without an intermediate interpreter. That will be GapSense's job. Bluetooth, unlike WiFi's long-range ability, is designed for short-range, short-wavelength communication; for example, from a smartphone to the home computer it is sitting next to. ZigBee devices are growing in popularity for their inherent mesh networking ability used primarily for home security, remote home monitoring, and other automated devices. A home equipped with a diverse assortment of the aforementioned networks is a wireless traffic jam waiting to happen.

GapSense software essentially creates a traffic system-like communication between each different wireless device. Each device will be able to communicate a warning message or a stop command to alert neighboring devices of its intent to transmit information. The neighboring devices would then limit their use of the network airwaves to avoid unnecessary information packet collisions. Interference between such devices has already been reduced by 88 percent using the GapSense software, and collisions between new, wider bandwidth WiFi gadgets and narrower bandwidth devices have been practically eliminated.

In addition to its incredible ability to manage airway traffic, GapSense also reduces the amount of electricity consumed by WiFi-enabled devices. Receivers are allowed to operate in a sleep mode of sorts and are woken up by transmitters when it is time to move information along the intranet highway.

Kang Shin and Xinyu Zhang presented their work at the IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications in April in Turin, Italy. The university is also now in the process of patenting the technology with hopes of commercializing GapSense software for future wireless market releases. Now, for the matter of roaming security?

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