Nov 06 2008

Do-It-Yourself Apps

New program lets Wi-Fi users develop programs and gauge impact.

Under a new initiative, Wi-Fi network owners can develop their own network applications using a new developer’s program; help develop advanced application research; and probe the overall social, economic and environmental impacts of wireless networks.

The three-pronged program, sponsored by Aruba Networks, distributes open-source development kits and application programming interfaces that allow network owners to develop prototype Windows- and Linux-based wireless applications.

Partners can work on their own applications or with Aruba engineers, says Michael Tennefoss, head of strategic marketing for the company. Under the developers program, Wi-Fi network owners can get open-source software that can help develop applications, such as location tracking and device identification, that leverage their wireless networks, says Tennefoss. Tracking and ID applications are particularly valuable to higher education administration for maintaining inventory of college and university property.

One U.S. university, says Tennefoss, installed sensors in parking spaces in one of the school’s parking lots. The sensors automatically notify network operators when a space is vacant. The information improves traffic flow to various parking facilities around campus, says Tennefoss.

The advanced directed research program is more focused on “blue sky” research, says Tennefoss, on problems that have no optimal solution.

The third prong, dubbed “the Green Island Project,” supports research on the environmental impact of wireless networks in the educational environment. Tennefoss says wireless networking reduces energy consumption because it doesn’t rely on copper, which has to be mined, and can be upgraded without replacing copper wiring.

The overall goal of the combined efforts is to explore and expand the ways wireless networks are applied. The company hopes the program will push technological research in network performance optimization, remote access, security and network management. Applications focusing on enhanced mobility and more research into the environmental and the social impact of wireless technology also will follow.