North America's First WiMAX Laboratory
Prof. Ashok Agrawala
The University of Maryland has introduced North America's first, and the world's second, laboratory dedicated to creating applications for WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access), a next generation technology for Web, phone and other wireless communications.
Part of the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), the university's new MAXWell Lab will provide developers of WiMAX compatible hardware and software with a large test bed and support of faculty and students in the university's highly-ranked Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and Computer Science departments.
Prof. Ashok Agrawala, a UMIACS professor and ECE affiliate faculty member, will serve as director of the university's new MAXWell Lab.
WiMAX is a wireless technology that seeks to provide anytime, anywhere broadband Internet access through WiMAX compatible laptops, PDAs and other devices. WiMAX technology can provide data speeds comparable to cable and ISDN services with a wireless technology system that is similar to, but can cover much larger areas (3-30 miles) than WiFi "hotspots" (100 to 300 ft) now found in hotels, coffee shops, college buildings and other places. WiMAX technology makes possible the creation of wireless "metropolitan area networks," (MANs), as well as the provision of high-speed Web access to rural and other areas not currently served because of the time and expense of running broadband cable or fiber over long distances. Based on the IEEE 802.16 standard, the name WiMAX was created by the WiMAX Forum, which was formed in June 2001 to promote conformance and interoperability of the standard.
It is currently difficult for a WiMAX application developer to test their application in a real environment at a neutral site. The new WiMAX facility at the University of Maryland will offer an excellent site for such testing. The first carrier deployment of WiMAX in the U.S. is by Sprint and the initial deployments are in Washington, DC area. With a university community of 50,000 people, the test bed at the MAXWell Lab will be available for testing WiMAX applications in a live environment with many users.
The MAXWell Lab was established jointly with the university's Office of Information Technology (OIT). The University of Maryland's outside partners in the lab are the Laboratory for Telecommunication Sciences (LTS), the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and Fujitsu. The Lab was established to conduct research and development in a variety of WiMAX and other wireless communications technologies.
One new WiMAX application that will get additional development and testing in the MAXWell Lab is a social networking application for cell phone/PDAs developed by Agrawala and some of his graduate students. Known as MyeVyu, it is designed to enhance the safety of the user, make getting around easier and facilitate networking with friends. Currently MyeVyu is designed to use data from the more than 3000 Wi-Fi stations scattered across the campus. Working through the MAXWell lab, Agrawala and his students will integrate their MyeVyu application to run on WiMAX wireless technology.
The MyeVyu system is being developed in collaboration with OIT, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Facilities. It will pinpoint a user's position on the campus within about 10 feet. This information will be able to be integrated with map graphics, campus construction and transportation information and shared with friends. In an emergency, the users can, which the touch of a button, alert campus police of their ID and location, and transmit audio and video of what's happening using the phone's camera and microphone. In addition, it will be possible to make a variety of other information readily available to the user, such as real-time locations of the shuttle buses, parking location of a user's car, current weather, campus events, class or meeting times and locations, location of vending machines, and information on handicapped accessible buildings, paths etc.
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