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An Ad-hoc Network of Smartphones with RF Ranging Capability


OBJECTIVE: First is to design and build an application that can form an Ad-hoc network of Smartphones in which every node can directly communicate with other nodes without routing messages through a cell tower or media access point. Second is to develop another application to compute Radio Frequency (RF) ranges between the network nodes based on the first application and communication electronics of the Smartphones. DESCRIPTION: A future Army vision will have every soldier equipped with a Smartphone. Smartphones currently include processing, transceivers, and sensor technology that equip the user with a number of services useful to the soldier to include: communication capability (both through cell phone and Wi-Fi technology), positioning/navigation (through GPS and route planning software), and the ability to develop applications tailored to the specific soldier's function. Of particular interest to this topic is exploring the possibility of the smart phone equipped soldier to assist in enhancing situation awareness in environments where GPS is denied or provides poor quality of service. It has been shown that if the direct distances between soldiers can be measured, these measurements can be included in forming enhanced position estimates for these soldiers. As the smart phone currently has processing, communication transceiver, and a GPS receiver, it possesses the essential components to form distance measurements between soldiers carrying smart phones and process these measurements into soldier position estimates. The current cell phone technology will require cell tower and/or Wi-Fi infrastructure to either exist in theater or be supplied by the Army. If the Smartphone transceiver software could be modified to enable communication directly between soldiers carrying smart phones then two significant capabilities result, namely; 1) the elimination of the need for cell towers and Wi-Fi hubs and 2) the ability to measure distances between Smartphones. The SBIR topic concept is to: 1) modify the cell phone technology concept currently existing in the Smartphone by eliminating the need for a cell tower or a Wi-Fi hub and 2) investigate means for RF ranging over the existing smart phone communication architecture. This topic will explore creating an ad-hoc network in which every Smartphone will become a networked node that can communicate to other nodes within the network without going through any cell tower or media access hub. This enables development of network exchanges expressly focused on making distance measurements between pairs of smart phones within the network. Furthermore, the range measurements can be made by a simple application that triggers the ranging to the node of interest. These measurements between Smartphone equipped soldiers can be integrated on the smart phone to enhance the position estimates of the soldiers carrying the smart phone in the network. Benefits to the soldier include robust situation awareness thorough improved position estimation when operating in environments where GPS is denied, degraded, or not available. The network concept when applied to communication eliminates the need to supply and maintain cell tower infrastructure in theater. One scenario, for example, is a group of soldiers having a mission to clear up a building in a remote area where there is no GPS and no cell coverage. This Ad-hoc smart phone network with ranging capability will assist them to complete their mission and reduce the casualty. Other potential applications outside the military include: emergency first responder positioning for command and control, search and rescue, and extend the cell phone communication utility in natural and homeland security disasters that disable or destroy the cell tower infrastructure. PHASE I: Investigate feasible methods to generate an Ad-Hoc network of Smartphones and to measure distances between nodes in the network. Develop overall system design that includes specification of Smartphone Ad-Hoc networking protocol operation, and RF ranging technology. PHASE II: Develop and demonstrate a Smartphone Ad-Hoc network where each node can directly send voice/data to other nodes in the network without the need for any cell tower or media access hub. Demonstrate Smartphone RF ranging capability based on communication exchanged between the network nodes in realistic environment. Conduct testing to prove feasibility over extended operating conditions. PHASE III: This system could be used in a broad range of military and civilian applications where communication infrastructure does not exist, being damaged by natural disasters or destroyed by warfare activities. For example, a group of dismounted soldiers go on a mission to clear a building in a wartorn urban area where all cell towers do not function due to being destroyed or damaged. Equipping these soldiers with Ad-Hoc networking Smartphones with RF ranging capabilities will assist them to complete their mission with smaller risk of casualty. Another example, a group of first emergency responders equipped with such Smartphones will be easier to perform search and rescue mission in cases of natural disasters. REFERENCES: 1) Mobile Ad Hoc Networks: An Evaluation of Smartphone Technologies. 2) Network Management System for Tactical Mobile Ad Hoc Network Segments. 3) Cell phone chats--in the Australian Outback? 4) Mobile phones without towers coming soon.
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