The last few days have been extremely busy. I have finally settled on a thesis topic after a few months trying to decide. In case you don't know my area of interest has been in wireless networks for some time. However this was not specific enough so withing that area I am focusing on Wireless Mesh Networks (WMNs). A WMN is a network made up of wireless mesh clients and wireless mesh routers. The routers are usually stationary or have limited mobility while the clients are highly mobile. In some cases, the clients may also act as routers in order to allow connectivity to be extended farther away from the access points. For my thesis I have proposed to create a new high performance protocol for WMNs which will allow the network to scale better than current solutions.
<center><img src="/uploads/2008/05/figure1-300x228.jpg" alt="An Example of a Wireless Mesh Network (WMN)" /> <br/> An example of a Wireless Mesh Network (WMN)</center>
So why is this technology useful? Well current wireless networks usually depend on one access point as the gateway for all the wireless clients in the network. This approach creates a restrictive bottleneck at the access point. What if we could use multiple access points so that the clients are better spread out. Additionally, instead of having each access point being a gateway, what if only some of them were gateways. The rest can communicate with each other in a mesh structure that allows the data to flow to the gateways. This idea is not new, however there still are no satisfactory ways of doing this. There are many problems to consider which I plan to address in my thesis.
So you may still be wondering where in the real world all of this can be used. Well the obvious answer is in the military. But additionally, this technology could be used in warehouses and factories in place of their current wireless systems for product scanners. Many warehouses use systems that require a wired connection at each access point which in a warehouse can mean expensive wire being run all around needlessly. This new approach would require only a few access points to be hooked into a wired network and the rest of the traffic would flow towards these routers. Similarly, cellular phone companies could use the same technology to reduce the amount of cellular phone towers by configuring each phone as a mesh router. This would allow traffic to reach phones which are further from the existing towers by relaying through phones which are closer. The same technology could be integrated into vehicles allowing for deployment of computer networks along busy highways since access points could be put along the highway. This would allow the access to travel with the moving vehicles as they could route the network traffic towards vehicles which are closer to the access points. So there are plenty of ways this could be used in the real world. It is just a matter now of making it work effectively.
More to come eventually.