Tag Archives: cell phone

Smart phones, the return….

As promised in an earlier edition (see Smart phones to be even smarter), we will look at the use of cognitive engines in mobile communications.

Charles Bostian

Dr. Bostian

Several years ago, Dr. Charles Bostian of the Mobile and Portable Radio Group at Virgnina Tech came up with a way to make radios smart enough to adapt to a changing frequency environment.  That means tune themselves to different frequency bands depending on who is talking to them.  His concept resulted in a patent for the utilization of a cognitive engine in mobile radio communications.

And who uses mobile radio communication devices?  Well, you do, if you have a cell phone.  Cell phones are just two-way radios with some fancy shmancy software.  Even though Bostian initially envisioned communications such as for emergency services like police and fire being able to talk to each other in an emergency, the principles apply equally well to cell phones.

In fact, they may apply even better to cell phones.  Because cell phones not only have to adapt to a multitude of scheduling issues, such as handover from cell to cell, signal strength variations, and data types, but they also will have to be frequency agile in the future.  That’s because most of the contiguous band assigned to cell phone use has been, well, used.  Now they are scavenging bandwith wherever they can find it, and that may actually be in different bands as you travel around the country based on who is using what in each region.  Ay! Carumba!

So, how does this work?  Well, to borrow some info from the VT website, “Cognitive radios are aware of their environment and intelligently adapt their performance to the user’s needs. A CR is a software defined radio with a “cognitive engine” brain. Conceptually, the cognitive engine responds to the operator’s commands by configuring the radio for whatever combinations of waveform, protocol, operating frequency, and networking are required. It monitors its own performance continuously, reading the radio’s outputs to determine the RF environment, channel conditions, link performance, etc., and adjusting the radio’s settings to deliver the needed quality of service subject to an appropriate combination of user requirements, operational limitations, and regulatory constraints. We call these processes “reading the radio’s meters” and “turning the radio’s knobs” for short.”

So, yeah.  There you have it.  Most importantly, that patent that Bostian got a couple of years ago is looking to be very important in enabling this technology for the future.

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Smart phones will be even smarter

From this…
It was only about thirty years ago that we saw the first mobile phones.  They were the size of small suitcases and usually came attached to a car.  I still recall purchasing a new vehicle in the early 1980s when there was a mobile phone promotion:  Free car phone with purchase of a new car.  Of course, you had to sign up for a 2-year service plan @ $1200 per year, which in 1983 was a lot of money for a guy straight out of school with a family to support.  In fact, very few people used them outside of business or Hollywood.  They weren’t very practical, and at the time, we didn’t yet consider ourselves so important that we needed to be accessible to every telemarketer 24 hours a day.
…to this?

Cell phones eventually became ubiquitous, and once the texting feature was discovered by teenage girls, the world would never be the same. If you doubt the power of teenage girls with cell phones, just look at who wins American Idol every year. Now, we carry computers around in our pockets that rival the power of mainframes of the 1970s and have all the features of Dick Tracy’s fabled wrist TV. Each year brings out newer models that are smaller, lighter and more powerful, like the iPhone 5 seen at right.

OK, so that’s just a mock up based on the current rumors of what it will look like when it actually hits the streets, later this month.  HA!  Anyway, the ever-increasing demand for data delivery on smartphones has created a number of obstacles and challenges for the folks who bring you cell service and hardware.  They have to continually search for more available bandwith while at the same time finding new ways to cram more data into the existing bandwith.

The next generation service, built around theLong Term Evolution (LTE) standards, will be a much smarter system than any in the past, perhaps rivalling the SkyNET of movie fame.  As the handset moves from cell to cell, it is essentially functioning as a tiny internet connection with all the bells and whistles of your desktop computer and the problems of radio communication on top.  The handsets will be increasingly smart to effect smooth handover from cell to cell without sacrificing quality of service.

Expect to see a heavy reliance on new techniques, variously called software defined radio (SDR) and Cognitive Engines which will be the framework for implementing the adaptability needed for the mobile computing and communication future.

More details on these new technologies will follow shortly.

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Filed under Communications, software, Wireless