What's new in wireless
Archived article from Oct 5, 2001
By Joseph Blumberg
As anyone who has tried to use a cell phone or a Palm Pilot to connect to the Internet knows, wireless technology is still far from perfect. That may be frustrating to today's users, but to Dipankar Raychaudhuri, professor of electrical and computer engineering and the new director of Rutgers' Wireless Information Network Laboratory (WINLAB), it presents a challenge he's more than equipped to take on.
Known simply as "Ray" to colleagues and friends and on his e-mail address, the soft-spoken, Indian-born electrical engineer is a wireless industry powerhouse. Among his credits, he was a lead architect on the HDTV system that formulated some of the technical underpinnings of the current U.S. standard. A few years ago, his team at NEC USA's research lab developed the "WATMnet" system, one of the world's first pre-commercial broadband wireless local-area networks capable of streaming high-quality video and audio to mobile computing devices.
Raychaudhuri was most recently chief scientist with Iospan Wireless, a Silicon Valley start-up company developing a broadband wireless Internet access product.
Of WINLAB, he says, "I've been in the wireless field long enough to know there are only a few truly outstanding centers of excellence, and this is one of them."
WINLAB is a research center where new technologies for wireless communication are developed and students are trained. It is supported by the National Science Foundation, the state of New Jersey and more than 20 private industry sponsors.
"Our mission is not to build commercial products, but it does extend up to influencing the future evolution of products," said Raychaudhuri. "We do that by creating new product concepts, key technology components and proof-of-concept prototypes."
Mobile Internet technologies have always been a WINLAB focus, but now they will receive much greater emphasis under Raychaudhuri. As a result of WINLAB's work on Infostations, he sees a new, ultra-high-speed radio device being developed that will be capable of downloading large data files at high speed to people whizzing down the highway.
"We are working toward fundamentally new models for information delivery over the mobile Internet," he says. "The present Web model is clearly inappropriate for a mobile user with small handheld devices and no keyboard."
Another focus emerging at WINLAB is the development of an integrated wireless system on a single low-cost, low-power chip. "This will be at the heart of a new generation of devices," he predicts.
Raychaudhuri hopes to bring start-up com-panies into the WINLAB fold. He also plans to launch a new sponsorship model that will engage industry sponsors more fully in these high-impact projects. He plans to increase the laboratory's faculty strength through new hires, collaboration with faculty members from other departments and appointment of outstanding adjunct research faculty from local companies.
"I want to advertise to Rutgers faculty that WINLAB is a virtual focus center without boundaries," he announced. "If you are interested in wireless -- whether you are a ceramics professor who is developing new filter technology, or a computer scientist working on mobile computing software -- you are all welcome to participate."