Researchers and tech-fans alike have been working on newer Wi-Fi systems that will make data speeds amp up dramatically. This new system, developed by MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL), can transfer data 3x faster than the Wi-Fi we use today.
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The new system is called MegaMIMO 2.0, and it also doubles the range of the signal.
If manufacturers like Cisco and Netgear end up using the systems, it can be used in Wi-Fi routers at home.
But there is something even better about the new technology: it will likely make crowded environments, like concerts, conventions, and sporting events, have faster internet signals. When we are in public areas like these, we tend to struggle to do anything from checking our emails to post a Snap.
One of the ways to fix the problem is to add more access points. But that doesn't solve all of the problems.
"In today's wireless world, you can't solve spectrum crunch by throwing more transmitters at the problem, because they will all still be interfering with one another," says lead researcher Ezzeldin Hamed. "The answer is to have all those access points work with each other simultaneously to efficiently use the available spectrum."
This is what MegaMIMI 2.0 does. It coordinates multiple access points at the same time so that each can transfer data without creating interference.
The team had to discover an algorithm that allowed for multiple independent transmitters to use the same spectrum - something that has been troubling wireless researchers.
"The problem is that, just like how two radio stations can't play music over the same frequency at the same time, multiple routers cannot transfer data on the same chunk of spectrum without creating major interference that muddies the signal," says one member of the team, Hariharan Rahul.
MegaMIMO 2.0 builds on the technology we already have, called MIMO. It is this MIMO that allows devices to receive multiple signals from multiple transmitters. Up until now, it all resulted in network congestion.
Thanks to the team's MegaMIMO 2.0 algorithm, that's no longer a problem.
"Since spectrum is scarce, the only way to improve wireless capacity is to add more access points and use some sort of distributed MIMO solution," says computer scientist Sachin Katti from Stanford University, who was not a member of the team. "While there has long been skepticism that this could ever work in practice, [the] team has demonstrated that they can solve the many practical challenges of distributed MIMO networks."
To test the system, researchers set up a mock conference room with four laptops travelling around the room on Roomba vacuums, measuring speeds as they went. They found that this system boosted data transfers 330% when compared to what we use now.
There hasn't been an announcement as to when we will see the new system, but the team is in the process of commercializing the technology.
The research is published in SIGCOMM 16, and you can watch a video where the researchers explain the system below: