Tetherless Computing

Tetherless computing is a style of computing where smart mobile devices, such as cell phones and PDAs opportunistically communicate with centralized server clusters over heterogeneously administered wireless networks. It arises from the convergence of three important trends:

  1. The emergence of small, cheap, smart, and mobile devices (http://www.handhelds.org/), especially cell phones.
  2. The proliferation (http://www.wigle.net/) of wireless access (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_access_point).
  3. The centralization of computing in managed clusters of servers (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.10/cloudware_pr.html) located at data centers (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/14/magazine/14search-t.html?_r=2&ref=magazine&pagewanted=all).

We have been working on this since 2003, but its finally got the world's attention (http://www.informationweek.com/shared/printableArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=4T2JDEGPDQS45QE1GHOSKHWATMY32JVN?articleID=220900806)

The component elements of tetherless computing--broadband wireless networks, server clusters, and increasingly powerful mobile computing devices--are already in place or are rapidly becoming available. The Apple iPhone, for example, represents a style of mobile computing platform that will be increasingly common in years to come. However, computing systems built using these elements lack properties such as seamless connectivity, disconnection-tolerance, ability to use multiple network interfaces, ease of programming, and security. In our work, we study the theoretical problems underlying tetherless computing, and build prototype systems that embody these principles.

Please click here for an example.

Research areas

We're working in the following broad research areas:

Opportunistic communication allows a mobile device to exploit a transient wireless connection to exchange data. We have studied the implications of opportunistic communication at every layer of the protocol stack, from the physical layer to the application layer. One focus of our work has been access to a roadside wireless Access Point from a moving vehicle. Another focus is the design and implementation of an architecture (the Opportunistic Communication Management Protocol layered over the Tetherless Communication Architecture) that allows a mobile device to opportunistically communicate with legacy servers in the Internet.
Opportunistic communication enables kiosks in rural areas of developing countries to reliably and cheaply access the Internet using mechanical backhaul.
  • Cellular Networks (http://blizzard.cs.uwaterloo.ca/tetherless/index.php/Papers_by_area#Cellular_networks)
Cellular networks and mobile phones will dominate the future Internet. We have studied some implications of this fact in our work, and also studied some problems that arise when carrying data in cellular networks.
  • Wireless LANs (http://blizzard.cs.uwaterloo.ca/tetherless/index.php/Papers_by_area#Wireless_LANs)
We have developed SMARTA, a centralized approach for dynamic wireless access point configuration that take both irregular coverage and dynamic changes in coverage area into account.
  • Networking Foundations (http://blizzard.cs.uwaterloo.ca/tetherless/index.php/Papers_by_area#Networking_foundations)
Our work in non-traditional networks has led us to re-examine networking foundations and fundamentals and the development of an axiomatic basis for communication. We are working on a meta-language that embodies these axioms, and can therefore be formally proved to be correct, yet can be compiled into efficient forwarding engines.

Mailing list

For current information on Tetherless Computing, join the Mailing list.

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