University touts GapSense software to control data traffic

Client-side software developed by researchers at the University of Michigan has been shown to control the onslaught of mobile data traffic and reduce interference among devices using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Zigbee.

The researchers' GapSense software enables devices to communicate with one another, exchanging simple stop and warning messages so their communications collide less often. Tests of GapSense have shown it can reduce interference by more than 88 percent on some networks with diverse devices, according to the university.

"GapSense creates a common language of energy pulses and gaps. The length of the gaps conveys the stop or warning message. Devices could send them at the start of a communication or in between information packets to let other gadgets in the vicinity know about their plans," said the university.

"Since [devices] don't have a direct means of communicating with each other because they use different protocols, we thought, 'How can we coordinate them so that each can perform their functions while minimizing interference with the others?'" said Kang Shin, a professor of computer science at the University of Michigan.

Shin and Xinyu Zhang, a former doctoral student in electrical engineering and computer science, are presenting their work on GapSense April 18 during the IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications in Turin, Italy.

The researchers contend the carrier sense multiple access (CSMA) protocol that programs devices to listen for radio silence before they send their own transmissions often does not work. During tests in a simulated office environment, the researchers found that with moderate Wi-Fi traffic, there was a 45 percent collision rate between ZigBee and Wi-Fi. GapSense reduced that to 8 percent.

GapSense also targets variances between Wi-Fi standards. At moderate Wi-Fi traffic, the researchers detected around a 40 percent collision rate between wider and narrower-bandwidth Wi-Fi devices, and GapSense reduced it to virtually zero, said the university.

The University of Michigan's work is funded by the National Science Foundation. The university is pursuing patent protection for the intellectual property and is seeking commercialization partners to help bring the GapSense to market.

For more:
- see this University of Michigan release

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