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Innovative Technology Addresses Wireless Interference

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Dina Katabi and her students discussing some of their research results.

MIT professor and 2013 ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award recipient Dina Katabi is leading a team working on the creation of tools and programs to improve wireless data transmissions.

Credit: Patricia Sampson/MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and 2013 ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award recipient Dina Katabi is leading a team that is working to create tools and programs to improve the speed, efficiency, and security of wireless data transmissions.

Katabi has received about $4.7 million in U.S. National Science Foundation grants for her wireless interference and data transmission work since 2005.

Katabi notes that wireless networks often experience partial data loss and packet rejection when two devices attempt to send packets of information at the same time. "Instead of trying to avoid interference by dividing the spectrum and time among people, we are inventing new technologies that allow people to transmit at the same time in the same part of the spectrum," she says.

The team's ZigZag algorithm, for example, restructures the content of competing information packets to greatly lower the chances of needing to retransmit. In addition, the group's MegaMIMO technology coordinates the transmissions of multiple transmitters "so their interference is canceled out in the right manner in order for all of them to transmit at the same time, so everyone can use the spectrum as if the other senders didn't exist," Katabi says.

She also has created a system that protects low-power medical devices from unwanted interference using random wireless signals.

From National Science Foundation
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