by November 2, 2007 0 comments



It’s long since we’ve been talking about wireless technologies through our
articles and with the passage of time we’ve seen how these technologies have
evolved. Today, these technologies have matured to such an extent that they’ve
ceased to remain just a product or a technology but are influencing our lives in
a big way. Our future no doubt lies in a wireless world and in this article
we’ll see how wireless devices influence our official, personal and social
Lives, and the technologies behind all this.

VoWLAN in enterprises
For today’s enterprises, the biggest challenge is to contact the right
person at the right time through the right medium. This is of course is not the
core objective of wireless but a very important application nonetheless. The
most prominent technology that we have see in this arena is VoWLAN. The
technology is not rocket science or something that has just come out of research
labs but is essentially two technologies coupled with each other. ‘Vo’ stands
for Voice and WLAN for WiFi. This means voice over standard WiFi links.

Of course it’s nothing new, but by transmitting voice over WiFi links we see
some intuitive products such as smart phones being devised that can be made to
work on different platforms. These devices allow you to access calls on your GSM/CDMA
cellular number, your landline number and your office EPABX number, from
anywhere in the world. So, you are spared the need to carry all these different
devices along with you. Smartphones very intelligently take care of the handover
amongst different networks and so, depending on your location, such devices can
route your call either over local LAN or WiFi or over the Internet connection
provided by your cellular network. So, for the person trying to contact, you are
always available no matter what medium he’s trying to contact you over.

Fring is a simple, freely
available tool that lets you call any GSM, VoWLAN or Messenger with your
Windows Mobile

WiMAX in enterprises
This is one wireless technology that’s causing ripples throughout the world
and has a great potential. Just like most of the other new technologies, this
one’s not been implemented in India yet but is in different stages of
implementation worldwide. The WiMAX standard, IEEE 802.16a, is an extension to
Wireless MAN (Metropolitan Area Network) Air Interface standard for MAN
(802.16). It has been created to operate in the high frequency range from 10 to
66 GHz, while 802.16a will operate in lower frequency range of 2 to 11 GHz. An
important feature of 802.16a is the absence of requirement for line of sight
transmission. This is possible because WiMAX directional antenna can transmit
signal to any cell phone tower even outside the line-of-sight range. These
signals can even penetrate tall buildings and trees. The 802.16a standard is
capable of transmitting signals across 50 km and has a maximum data transfer
rate of 70 Mbps for hundreds of users. Reliable transmission is achieved with
forward error correction (FEC) technique for security and it uses Triple-DES
encryption.

Imagine the impact of such a technology for large enterprises and even for
the government. This is the only technology right now that has the potential to
create a city wide hotspot. This means the whole city will have Internet access
wherever you go. Action has already started in the form of a few pilot tests
across India and soon we’ll see our city completely Internet’ized.’

Another great advantage of WiMAX for enterprises is that it covers a huge
area and so can act as a superb wireless medium for connection amongst multiple
branch offices in a single city. Even banks can benefit from it tremendously by
connecting their different channels spread across a city. Of course being a
wireless medium there are bound to be security concerns this is the reason why
it’s still looked at with skepticism. Let’s hope that with stronger security
mechanisms in place, we’ll see more deployments based on WiMAX in future.

RFID in enterprises
We’re no strangers to this technology that already has made such a huge
impact. Its applications are enormous for enterprises. And has been further
accentuated by its adoption and development by giants such as Microsoft.
Recently the company launched Biztalk RFID that allows users to incorporate RFID
into various applications and workflows. Microsoft has used a new software layer
approach that allows all kind of RFID devices, be it a current RFID device, a
previous generation device or next-generation sensors and Electronic Product
Code (EPC) readers to be incorporated, in a plug and play manner. From a
developer’s point of view, such a unique event processing engine helps in
creating, deploying and managing end to end logical RFID processes that are
independent of device type and device communication protocols. The best part of
BizTalk RFID is that it can be integrated with the current line of business
applications such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, Warehouse
Management Systems (WMS), etc. The best part is that for such an integration no
major modifications are required; it works automatically. You can read more
details on MS BizTalk RFID on pg 136 in our Extraedge section.

Saving tigers from poachers:
Radio telemetry can be used to track a tiger in the wild. Here, a collar
containing a radio transmitter is put around the wild cat’s neck. Wildlife
officials armed with a receiver can easily keep track of the tiger’s
movements

Social Impact of Radio Telemetry and GIS
The battle between poachers and tigers has continued since ages. Technology
can help save the tiger in a big way, starting right from investigation to
prosecution. Data available at the Project Tiger Directorate indicates that out
of 173 deaths of tigers during 1999-2004, 83 were caused by poaching. You’ll be
surprised to know that poachers use sophisticated communication devices such as
wireless sets, UHB Radio, and even Ham radio for tracking tigers. Tiger reserves
on the contrary are not equipped with adequate means of communication to counter
illegal activities. Radio telemetry can be used to track a lion or a tiger.
Here, a tiger is tranquilized and a collar containing a radio antenna is put
across his neck. A researcher armed with a receiver can easily track a tiger
with the aid of radio telemetry.

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) is another tool to track the movement
of various animals and birds such as Siberian cranes. The radio collars have a
small GPS attachment that can be programmed to switch on at specific times in
during a day. These GPS devices then search for the nearest satellites and once
a connection has been established, you can easily fix the location of the
animal. The unit switches off by itself and transmits data to handheld devices
which can be transferred on to a GIS. In India, WWF is using GPS to track
elephants in Assam by following elephant herds, or using secondary indicators of
elephant movement such as dung, footprints, etc using GPS. The data is
transferred on to a GIS that gives us information about critical corridors.




Personal applications of WiFi
We can safely say that WiFi technologies have been successful in the
enterprise domain, but lately we have started observing their adoption in the
personal computing and home-office segment, also. It is because, while WiFi
still struggles to meet the bandwidth requirements of a typical enterprise, it
has to face no such limitations in a modern home. Let’s face it square, today a
typical living room doesn’t just have a single entertainment device, such as TV
or a music system. We have media centers, gaming devices, digital music players,
and probably a desktop PC. All of them sit in the same living room and need to
be connected to each other and also to the Internet. As we don’t have homes with
structure cabling, so WiFi becomes the preferred choice for such setups. The
trend becomes evident when you see a TV with WiFi. This means that if you have a
bunch of video files on a PC, you can now directly stream it to your TV screen,
without even requiring a single piece of wire or any additional device.

Personal applications of Wireless USB
Wireless USB (WUSB) is an innovation of the USB Implementers Forum. It is a
standard, meant for short-range high-bandwidth connections for USB devices. WUSB
has been developed on the WiMedia Alliance’s Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) common radio
platform. This platform is capable of sending data at speeds of 480 Mbps for
distances up to 3 meters and at 110 Mbit/s for distances up to 10 meters. It
operates in the range of 3.1 to 10.6 GHz. The product for this is still not out
in the market, but we are actually waiting for them to reach us, as soon as
possible. Want to know, why? Imagine, I reach office with a 4 GB Wireless USB
disk. Now, without even a need of taking it out from my pocket, I can boot a
machine wirelessly, with all my personal applications and settings. And that’s
not all, the possibilities are endless.

Personal applications of ZigBee
If you interested in low-powered, short-distance, and low-speed (just 250
Kbps) connections, think of the ubiquitous bee-the Motorola invention ‘ZigBee’.
ZigBee also uses the 2.4 GHz free-to-use radio band and is suited to tasks where
other transceivers would quickly fizzle out. There will soon be a nest of
ZigBees that will form their own peer-to-peer ‘meshes’. It is ideal to be used
with embedded applications that require low data transfer rates and are also
power-constrained. ZigBee promises a completely networked home where all devices
are able to communicate and be controlled by a single unit. Imagine a home with
different entertainment units, various security systems like fire and intrusion
protections, air-conditioners and other appliances that have embedded
applications supporting ZigBee and through a single unit all these devices could
be accessed and controlled. And as this device is going to consume low power, it
will have extended battery usage life. You can think of similar home-office
scenarios, as well.

A car stereo integrated with
Bluetooth. You can directly stream music files from any Bluetooth mobile
device and enjoy your favorite music while driving

Personal applications of Bluetooth
Yes it’s old. But that reaffirms the old adage, which says ‘the old is
gold’. With the advent of Bluetooth, we first heard the concept of a PAN
(Personal Area Network). Now, the network has become more sophisticated and we
call it a HAN (Home Area Network). The applications based on Bluetooth standards
are gradually coming in the market, further boosting such networking concepts.
Now we have a car stereo system which comes integrated with Bluetooth, so that
you one can directly stream your music files stored in phones to the car stereo
system. Not only that, the car stereo gets mute when a call comes to the phone.

Using a mobile phone you can
control all electric equipment such as ACs, geysers, TVs, etc wirelessly
using Bluetooth

But trust me this is not going to end up in the car stereos. We are seeing
software and infrastructures that can integrate all your digital lifestyle
systems over the Bluetooth to update your proximity and presence in an
intelligent system environment. Bluetooth being a small distance communication
channel gives the flexibility to devices kept in a room to sense that someone is
entering the room and the person can also be identified. All this can happen by
the Bluetooth connection of the person’s phone. So, if you want to hide yourself
from your manager, you just have to keep your mobile’s Bluetooth connectivity
off!

Coming back to the waiting area, once a visitor enters the waiting area of
your office you can greet him, simply by setting some messages, as soon as your
Bluetooth system detects his arrival. Or for that matter as your friend enters
your car, the car starts playing music of her choice. Start her favorite TV
channel, etc. Not only this, when a phone call comes to any mobile in the car,
the celebration goes to mute. Once the call is over, the device again tunes back
to normal.

No, this is not the future or science fiction. This is possible today and
that too at an affordable price. You can try out the SmartHome project from
LinuxMCE at http://linuxmce.com/ for more details about such devices and
applications. You can even buy such readymade products and solutions from a
company called IPTriplePlay. The name of the solution is Pluto. You can see a
nice flash video demo of such a smart home at  http://www.iptp.net/showflash_en.html.
These are only a few names but trust me there are a handful of vendors and
products in the market, and their tribe is growing fast.

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