The internet is the very definition of a transformative technology. It’s exploded into a sprawling labyrinth of information, shopping and entertainment that alternately boosts or drains productivity. For every cat video someone shares on Facebook, there’s a TED Talk or a file transferred via the cloud.
Google wants to bring the internet to as many users as possible, so it has been investigating ways of providing access to people across the globe. Part of the challenge involved with that goal is providing access to users in places where terrain or circumstance have prevented a developed infrastructure. The potential solution Google has unveiled is called Project Loon, and uses balloons to form a network. Continue reading
Wireless LANs have been a boon for networking both in the home and at work. But there are still some places (like hospitals) where the wireless networks can cause interference with other equipment, or have their performance impeded by the presence of other radios. The Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute claims to have come up with 3Gbps alternative using LED lightbulbs for wireless Internet access. Continue reading
It’s been a big year for nanophotonics, the technology that makes it possible to build chips that use pulses of light to communicate. A year ago we wrote about progress at MIT in developing photonic chips that use light beams to perform computational tasks. Now IBM has announced it has developed a scalable silicon nanophotonics chip on the path to enabling 100 Gpbs networks. Continue reading
Rather than just assuming everyone knows whatMoore’s Law is, I’m just going to include it here. Basically, Moore’s Law says that the number of transistors on a chip will double about every two years. This has mostly held true (though advances seem to be coming faster) for computers, but other technologies progress at a much slower rate. The specific kind of technology we’re talking about here is radio, or Wi-Fi, technology.
The main problem with improving radio technology is that radio is an analog system, rather than a digital one. While scientists have begun to hit some limits in what can be done on a chip, digital technology is easier to improve and easier to shrink. Try shrinking analog technology too far and it begins to malfunction.