Internet of Things (IoT) research firm Berg Insight recently released figures indicating the installed base of wireless IoT devices in industrial automation reached 21.3 million in 2018. That number could be 50.3 million connections by 2023, the company says. It\u2019s a lot of new industrial wireless nodes coming, and potentially a lot of data packet collisions if the new networks aren\u2019t thought out for handling a snowballing scale.\nCopying frogs is the answer, say researchers at Osaka University\u00a0in Japan. They say they\u2019ve discovered that the calling patterns of male Japanese tree frogs don\u2019t overlap, and thus replicate how one would ideally like to see a network function \u2014 no packets crashing. The leaping amphibians collectively orchestrate their croaking and silences.\n\n\u201cNeighboring frogs avoided temporal overlap, which allows a clear path for individual voices to be heard,\u201d Daichi Kominami of Osaka University says on the school\u2019s website. \u201cIn this same way, neighboring nodes in a sensor network need to alternate the timings of data transmission, so the data packets don't collide.\u201d\nIn other words, despite sounding like a relentless cacophony to the average person, the frogs, in fact, are ripe for mathematical modelling for a communications system.\nFrog croak patterns\nThe researchers captured three frogs and placed them in individual cages. They then observed the interaction \u2014 frogs communicate information through sound. The group found that through a kind of alternate call-timing-like orchestration, in the short term, information was passed clearly. But in the long term, the frogs sometimes chose to all croak in unison, or all rest \u2014 it\u2019s hard work being a frog.\n\u201cThey found the frogs both avoided overlapping croaks and collectively switched between calling and silence,\u201d the researchers explain. It was a clear audible pattern, including rest breaks for all. The scientific group then mathematically modeled their findings, which they intend to use for designing autonomous disbursed communication systems of the kind we are likely to see more of in industrial IoT.\n\u201cSuch systems must cleverly regulate give and take, activity and rest,\u201d the researchers say. The rest part is to reduce network power consumption for possibly widely disbursed environmental sensors.\n\u201cAnimals exhibit various types of collective behavior in the form of swarms,\u201d the group writes in their paper published in Royal Society Open Science.\n\u201cAnts forage for food by cooperating with other individuals, [and] birds and fish form a flexible flocking as a result of [sensory] interactions.\u201d I\u2019ve written previously about how decentralized, randomly distributed ad hoc IoT nodes might self-discover their size by copying ant colony behavior \u2014 ants in the wild bump into fellow ants and create random sampling models of how many other ants are around, a bit like what one sees in marketing study statistics.\n\u201cVarious theoretical studies show that swarm intelligence can solve real-world problems, especially in the fields of information and communication technologies,\u201d the Osaka academics write.\nIn the case of the frog study, as applied to network design, the short-time-scale individual croaking is \u201ceffective at averting data packet collisions.\u201d Whereas the long time-scale, rest and communal choruses \u201coffered promise for regulating energy consumption.\u201d\nAnd what are the frogs actually croaking about? In another parallel: calling for a mate, mainly.