WINLAB research addresses the need for connecting large numbers of people and objects wirelessly. With the rapid growth in mobile penetration worldwide, wireless platforms have effectively replaced fixed PCs as the primary user device for Internet access. Internet traffic to and from mobile devices now exceeds that from wired devices and this exponential trend in wireless traffic growth is expected to continue into the forseeable future. In addition, it is anticipated that embedded internet-of-things (IoT) devices for connecting objects will proliferate rapidly during the next 5-10 years, leading to new service demands on wireless networks.
Rapid growth in wireless devices and traffic mentioned above lead to technical challenges in the design of wireles networks, both quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative challenges of scale are associated with migrating from ~10 billion wireless devices today to ~100 billion in 2020. Order-of-magnitude increases in the total number of devices and generated traffic implies the need for significant improvments to spectrum efficiency relative to current practice. The move to broadband Internet access on mobile devices also implies the need for ~10-100x increases in wireless link speed and network capacity for both cellular and unlicensed band technologies such as WiFi. Finally, the emergence of IoT devices is associated with real-time applications many involving human-in-the-loop, indicating a need for significant reductions in network latency/delay to approach ~1ms instead of the ~10-100 ms associated with current access technologies. In terms of qualitative challenges, the move to wireless platforms implies the need for seamless mobility across heterogeneous access technologies, the abiity to work with multiple radio interfaces (e.g. both cellular and WiFi) and the ability to deal with fluctuating link speed and occassional disconnections. Of course, security and privacy issues for mobile devices take on an even greater importance, considering the fact that wireless is inherently an open medium and can also be used to obtain sensitive user location data.
The above vision of future wireless requires solutions to a number of challenges in radio/network design including:
- Achieving >Gbps access speeds in both wide-area cellular and wireless local-area networks
- Scaling wireless system capacity from Mbps/Sq-km to Gbps/Sq-km.
- Promoting spectrum efficiency and increased co-existence between unlicensed band services.
- Achieving ultralow-latency in wireless access networks.
- Realizing seamless mobility for ~10B+ Internet connected devices and objects
- Unifying legacy and emerging wireless network protocols with the future Internet's architecture.
- Providing effective security and privacy in wireless network services.
There are also several related system and software level challenges associated with the future mobile Internet, including:
- Efficient delivery of content to mobile users.
- Context- and location-aware services for mobile devices and IoT.
- Effective provisioning of cloud services for mobile users.
- Innovative application concepts, user interfaces and privacy/security models for mobile users
WINLAB is dedicated to bringing together corporate, university, and government resources to explore these challenges and develop solutions.
WINLAB typically has a pool of ~40-50 graduate and undergraduate students. Most students work on projects that lead to their MS or PhD thesis in either the ECE or CS departments at Rutgers. In addition, WINLAB is home to the annual WINLAB Summer Internship Program that offers internships in a university research setting to highly talented high-school, undergraduate and graduate students.
WINLAB works with the Rutgers Electrical and Computer Engineering Department to create new undergraduate and graduate courses on emerging technology in communications networks and wireless systems. These specialized courses along with research training at WINLAB provide our students with the skills necessary for the growing number of technical positions in the wireless field. Numerous Rutgers graduates now hold responsible positions in the wireless communications industry throughout the United States.