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Beyond the wireless world, better interference mitigation could be a boon to powerline broadband, which has to share wires with electric current. The electricity running through powerlines can interfere with the data signals being sent through them, so the network can't run as fast as it might. The Avatekh algorithms could help to mitigate interference from that current, Nikitin said.
In a similar way, they could help to combat interference on copper wires used for DSL (digital subscriber line), clearing the way for faster DSL speeds, he said. Because they combat interference, the algorithms might also be useful for overcoming intentional jamming. Avatekh is starting to talk with some defense companies about this, Nikitin said.
Avatekh has patented the algorithms but is just beginning to test them out in hardware through the project with Kansas State, Nikitin said. It may be three to five years before they're implemented in commercially available devices, he said.
"It's pretty wet around the ears as far as actually putting it on a chip," he said.
Nikitin came to Kansas from the Soviet Union and earned a doctorate in physics from the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Avatekh was founded in 2011. Nikitin has been working on the signal-filtering idea for about 15 years but only recently got to the stage of implementing the algorithms in hardware. For help, he turned to Sobering, whom he already knew, even though Kansas State is a rival to Nikitin's alma mater.
Launching his company so far from the traditional centers of the tech industry was a brave move.
"I had some pressure to go to the Valley, but for various reasons, I kind of decided to undertake the insane task of trying to start a high-tech startup in Lawrence, Kansas," Nikitin said.