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A Vision of Wireless Possibilities

UT ECE faculty are tackling a big-picture wireless initiative, Network of Systems Vision, combining communication and computation in never-before-imagined ways.

Imagine you’re driving home from work, the GPS system in your car collecting data from sensors and choosing a route that minimizes traffic delays and minimizes fuel consumption. As you get closer to home, the car’s computer communicates with your home network, adjusting the thermostat and pre-heating the oven. Then a traffic-monitoring network detects an accident as it happens immediately in front of you, and sends a signal to your car to brake and turn onto an alternate route. A body sensor records the few beats your heart skipped, and sends that data to your doctor for reference at your next check-up. If the fibrillations progressed into a heart attack, those sensors could even stop your car and call an ambulance.

Previously the stuff of science fiction, this scenario looks plausible to UT ECE faculty working on the Network of Systems Vision. This big-picture project pulls together existing centers of excellence in wireless communication, circuit design, and computer architecture to enable new applications that combine communication and computation in never-before-imagined ways.

“A lot of academic research is focused on a single component, leading to solutions that assume only one component can be changed,”says Derek Chiou, PhD, assistant professor in UT ECE. “If you look at the entire system, it’s possible to create much better solutions, but those solutions may require changes to many components.”

This vision of what could be accomplished might eventually involve dozens of faculty in the Cockrell School and elsewhere in the university. It includes research areas spearheaded by Chiou