3 interesting wireless networking research projects

NC State shrinks RFID tags; UMich examines table manners; UAB putting a new charge into smartphones

3 interesting wireless networking research projects
Paul Franzon/NCSU

Here's a brief look at three academic research projects that explore existing and future uses of wireless networking technology:

Smaller RFID tags

North Carolina State University researchers have come up with ways to create passive radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags that are not only 25% smaller but also cheaper than typical tags. The no-longer-secret-sauce: The tags don't need to convert AC radio signals from a reader into DC in order to respond to the transmitter.

These AC-only RFID tags are the work of Paul Franzon, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State, and Ph.D. students Wenxu Zhao and Kirti Bhanushali.

Early models of their RF-only tags have less range than typical tags, but plans are in the works to address that.

The National Science Foundation and NC State Chancellor’s Innovation Fund supported the work.

Wireless device etiquette 

University of Michigan researchers have taken a look at how people around the world use mobile phones during meals and how they feel about other people doing so.

The survey of 1,163 people between the ages of 8 and 88 in English-speaking countries found that attitudes about appropriate phone use at the table depend largely on what people are doing and who else is at the table.

Those surveyed said the often brief processes of texting and answering a phone call are less gauche than sending off Snaps or browsing through Facebook, where a person can get bogged down. Respondents found cellphone use at the table more palatable by adults than children, who are perceived as just wasting time with friends.

"These results are interesting because they challenge the idea that using your phone during a shared meal is categorically inappropriate. What we find is that attitudes are much more nuanced than that," said Carol Moser, a doctoral student at the U-M School of Information and the study's lead author, in a statement.

One thought is that cellphone use can be considered less appropriate than some other time-honored traditions, such as reading the newspaper or watching TV from the table, because it's hard to tell what a person is really doing on their phone. Researchers suggest that the iPhones and Android phones of the world might be improved if they can give users cues to lay off the texts and tweets until after a meal is over.

A paper on the study will be presented at the Association for Computer Machinery's Human-Factors in Computing Systems conference this month.

A Better Way to Charge Wirelessly

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona researchers have put metamaterials to work in enabling mobile devices to be charged right from your pocket rather than having to stick them on a charging mat.

This experimental work, which allows for the more efficient -- as in 35-fold -- transfer of electrical energy between two circuits, would be a big improvement over current induction techniques. 

"Enveloping the two circuits with metamaterial shells has the same effect as bringing them close together; it's as if the space between them literally disappears," says Jordi Prat, lead author of the paper, in a statement.

MORE: 10 cool network and computing research projects


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