Radio breakthrough could double Wi-Fi performance


— 11:05 AM on February 16, 2011

Scientists at Stanford University have made a breakthrough that could double the speed of Wi-Fi and other wireless networks. This boost comes courtesy of a new radio design capable of sending and receiving on one frequency at the same time. The act of broadcasting one signal would normally make a radio unable to "hear" incoming transmissions. However, assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering Phil Levis explains to PC Pro that the incoming signal can be tuned to cancel out the outbound one.

According to the researchers, the breakthrough uses two transmitters in the hardware at each end of a conversation, with the two transmitters working in a similar way to noise-cancelling headphones.

"The two transmit signals interfere destructively at the receive antenna to create a dead signal that the receiver can't 'hear'," said Levis. "So you create this null position where the receiver can't hear that signal and so is able to receive packets from other areas."

So, you only get double the performance if you want to send and receive at the same time. That's still quite a breakthrough, but it won't make transfers faster in any one direction.

The researchers behind the technology have applied for a patent and are working to improve signal strength for Wi-Fi applications. Although no timelines are provided, they're already looking to get the radio tech implemented in real products. Thanks to Tested for the tip.

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