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HKUST Press Release - LAviNet

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15 November 2011

HKUST Invents and Smarter Multi-hop Wi-Fi Network Software

Achieving Many-fold Improvement / Many-fold Improvements in Signal Strength and Coverage
A research team led by Prof Gary Chan, Associate Professor of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), has invented and developed a new multi-hop wireless mesh network to greatly improve Wi-Fi performance. The network software, called LAviNet, implements a set of innovative channels and routing algorithms to automatically select paths which effectively avoid traffic congestion and reduce signal interference. With LAviNet, user data rate is measurably increased by more than two times and the signal strength significantly enhanced by 100 times, which tremendously improves wireless data transmission efficiency and coverage. LAviNet has been successfully commercialized and well received by the industry and end users.

Current Wi-Fi networks suffer from limited coverage range, high interference and costly setup. In some harsh environments such as airports, hangars, containers and port terminals, cabling is very costly or sometimes even impossible, which makes Wi-Fi access challenging. To address these problems, Prof Chan’s team invented and developed LAviNet, a software achieving an adaptive and high compatibility wireless mesh network. LAviNet can be simply installed into most Wi-Fi access points and wireless routers without replacing the existing costly infrastructure. With the help of LAviNet, a client does not need to install any software, but instead transparently connects into the Wi-Fi network to enjoy reliable and fast data service. LAviNet searches and assigns optimal wireless channels and routing paths to achieve high performance. It maximizes wireless coverage areas and improves operation efficiency.

Prof Chan explained, “Most of the existing wireless solutions are based on installing access points fixed in some places. In environments or terrains with obstructions and dynamic blind spots, such fixed access points no longer work well. Though there has been much academic research on wireless mesh, many of the papers are theoretical in nature based on assumptions which may not always hold in reality.  Therefore, the results cannot be directly applied or implemented for industry. With the support from Hong Kong Government and the industry, we integrate applied research with actual implementation to innovate a wireless mesh solution for practical deployment. With the research goal to minimize interference and maximize throughput, we develop LAviNet so it always chooses the best channels and paths. To address dynamic blind spot problem, it has a flexible routing algorithm to fast switch to a backup path based on the wireless link quality measured in real time.”

Mr C K Cheng, Information Technology Services Manager of the Modern Terminals Limited, added, “Because of the vast area and many moving metallic cranes in our container terminals, offering stable Wi-Fi coverage is very challenging. For long we have been interested in pervasive wireless access for real-time logistic management. The multi-hop wireless technology researched and developed by Prof Chan provides us a timely and effective solution. Trials show that their

technology achieves substantially better performance, user satisfaction and cost-efficiency over other existing products. It is an exemplary demonstration of the transfer of world-class research results to industrial use. We would like to continue collaborating with Prof Chan to develop advanced and proven wireless solutions to enhance our network and increase Hong Kong’s competitiveness in the container terminal business.”

Prof Joseph Hun-wei Lee, Vice-President for Research and Graduate Studies, pointed out, “Innovative technology holds the key to Hong Kong’s transformation into knowledge (-based) economy. HKUST has long been fostering social and economic development in Hong Kong through innovative research. LAviNet is one such example in which the University, Innovation and Technology Commission and the industrial companies join hands in commercializing scientific research outputs. I have high hopes for LAviNet to be extensively applied in enhancing the industry’s efficiency and competitiveness.”

Currently, the LAviNet project team led by Prof Chan consists of about 20 graduates, postgraduates and undergraduates from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering. The research and development work on LaviNet started in 2007. The Technology Transfer Center of HKUST has been offering development facilities and contractual advice.  The project has been supported by the Innovation and Technology Commission for technology transfer and commercialization. It has also been supported by and industrial companies including the Boeing Company, Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company (HAECO), OpenPlatform Technology, Modern Terminals Ltd, Altai Technologies Ltd and Ruckus Wireless in terms of sponsorship, technical advice, facilities and trials. Through rigorous applied research with the feedback from actual implementation and deployment, the team has conducted numerous trials in real industrial settings to successfully bring LAviNet to practical commercial use.
Bill Tang     MSN:billtang@openplatform.com.hk
Openplatform Technology Co.,Ltd. 資訊坊科技有限公司  
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