The Internet of Things (IoT) spans from WiFi-connected home appliances, to manufacturing machines that use connected sensors to time tasks on an assembly line, to warehouses that rely on automation to manage inventory, to surgeons who can perform precise surgeries with robots. But for these applications, timing is everything — a lagging connection could have disastrous consequences.

Researchers are creating a system that would use currently underutilized resources in an existing wireless channel to create extra opportunities for lag-free connections. The process, which wouldn't require any additional hardware or wireless spectrum resources, could alleviate traffic backups on networks with many wireless connections such as those found in smart warehouses and automated factories.

The network's automatic response to channel quality, or the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), is almost always a step or two behind. When there is heavy traffic on a channel, the network changes to accommodate it. Similarly, when there is lighter traffic, the network meets it but these adaptations don't happen instantaneously.

That lag — the space between the channel condition change and the network adjustment — was used to build a side channel solely for IoT devices where there is no competition and no delay. This method, called “EasyPass,” would exploit the existing SNR margin, using it as a dedicated side channel for IoT devices.

Lab tests demonstrated a 90 percent reduction in data transmission delay in congested IoT networks, with a throughput up to 2.5 Mbps over a narrowband wireless link that can be accessed by more than 100 IoT devices at once.

For more information, contact Wei Gao, Associate Professor, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 412-383-4422.