Friday, December 19, 2008

Context Aware Protocol Engines (CAPE)

Ad Hoc Networking at PARC

As the birth place of Ethernet, PARC has maintained a presence in networking technology over the years. And, one of the areas that PARC is working on explores the ad hoc networking technology.

CAPE (Context Aware Protocol Engines) came out of several lines of work related to wireless ad hoc networking. A major early driver/consumer of this type of technology is DARPA with military application in the battle field where the operating environment is highly dynamic and ability to effectively communicate commission critical.

However, like most technology, there are many civilian commercial applications that may be worth exploring.


Without going into the details, CAPE sets up a wireless network that is self-configuring, scalable, high-utilization, and high-quality. Specifically, here are some of the advantages that we have been able to demonstrate vis-à-vis conventional solutions such as 802.11.

Higher throughput: conventional solution has a fair amount of traffic management overhead whereas CAPE was designed to minimize the overhead required. In practice, this means that for a given bandwidth (pipe size), CAPE can pack a lot more traffic into it.

Better Quality of Service: looking beyond throughput, a major network issue for the end-user is jitters and delays for real-time streams such as video VoIP calls. While the payload may not be large in absolute terms, the sequence and speed of delivery are vital to its smooth function. Again, this is an area convention solutions often fail and CAPE can maintain a high QoS level.

Multi-Hop: for those of you who have to deal with multi-hop ad hoc networking issue, you know how big of a challenge this is. Suffices to say that CAPE allows for quite a few hops without requiring special antenna or extensive topological engineering.

Self-configuring: since it is not reasonable to expect a soldier to spend 5 minutes setting up network access in the heat of battle, CAPE allows each node in the network to self-configure as the node comes into the network. In the more mundane world, where I live, this means that when mom buys a new laptop, I do not have to configure it for her!

What can you do with CAPE?

I am looking into application areas for CAPE. I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions.


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