The best wireless protocol for my commute (or how to find a mate at a snail’s pace or 70 Miles Per

March 7, 2007 - 3 Comments

Multiple times per I drive from my home in San Francisco to building 14 at Cisco’s campus in San Jose-It is not a short drive. Like commuters everywhere I listen to the Radio (NPR, Adam Carolla, and Sports Radio – thank you). But like every other MTV generation Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). person on the road my mind wanders. Usually I drift off when commercials are on regular radio and NPR is doing a story about endangered earth worms living on a fault in downtown Los Angeles. It is at times like this that I turn to one of my favorite distractions. Looking at other drivers on the road and trying to figure out something about them. More specifically (and I don’t know how politically incorrect this is) I try to figure which women are single. So, being a geek-a-zoid, I’ve decided to write about what the best wireless protocol would be for my new web 2.0 wirelessly-enabled social networking idea: Car-Matchster.Car-Matchster brings singles together during their commute – bringing back the days of our youth… the days when you would innocently cruise up and dow ‘Main’ street at 15 miles per hour looking for that person you had a crush on in your World History class? Well Car-Matchster brings that magic back, but at speeds in excess of 75 Miles per hour (except during rush hour). Here’s how it works. A user inputs information about themselves and the type of person that they are looking for into a Car-Matchster console. As someone drives down the road, Car-Matchster propagates that information and information from as many as eight cars away. The Car-Matchster console sifts through incoming personal data and when two people ‘match’ a notification is sent. The notification might read:”œMatch Found – Red Toyota Pickup Truck – Brown Haired 37 year-old surfing male”The two people then begin driving around frantically ‘looking’ for one another. If they find each other and are interested, then each presses an accept button and an email address is exchanged. So the question is – what is the best protocol to use between the Car-Matchster consoles? For the sake of this discussion let’s discuss 802.11, WiMAX, Bluetooth, Zigbee, cellular, and Passive RFID. WIFI – WIFI has a solution for automatically forming groups. It’s called Ad-hoc networks. Basically a group of WIFI clients come together, an ad-hoc SSID is advertised, and they begin exchanging information. I like the pervasiveness of WIFI. Many people have WIFI and just about everyone *knows* about it, which is good. My only issue with WIFI AD-HOC networking is that I don’t know of any inherent hop-count metric. While I *want* to know if there is a single person near me, I don’t want to know about someone that is eighteen miles down the road. WiMAX – If there was a lot of congestion, or there was a need for class of service in my service, then I think that WiMAX would be a good technology. Perhaps I should ad it into the roadmap so that when we put in the ‘car chat’ feature the QoS is there. I’m not sure about the price of the components so I’m not going to move forward with this protocol. Bluetooth – Listen – I have problems with my Bluetooth headset working every day. I don’t want to bet the future of my company (or my chances of finding a future wife) on a protocol that I can’t get to work reliably. I know that there are Bluetooth fans out there, and the cost of Bluetooth chipsets are cheap, but my little mind hasn’t been pulled through the collective keyhole.Zigbee – The Zigbee protocol is a lot like Bluetooth, but it also is a bit more”Meshy” i.e. it is designed to work well in mesh applications. That’s why one of its first application is in sensor networks. Zigbee can operate in any one of of multiple bands. It’s data rate is relatively low, but version 1.0 of the product isn’t going to be transmitting too much information. If I can natively get the hop count out of the protocol, then life will be be pretty good-.Cellular – I recently received a letter from my cell provider it began as follows-“Dear Matt, you are our very favorite customer!!! Because of the number of minutes use every month, we would like you to wear this pin, which is the rough equivalent of the American Express Black Card.” Okay I’m kidding, but I pay a lot of money every month and I’m not too sure that this service would work for them considering how mobile and chatty it would be. Passive RFID – I like passive RFID. I really like it every time I’m in line at the local grocery store and people are putting their groceries on the belt and then fumbling when it is time for them to pay. Time is money-. Time is money- passive RFID is gonna save me time and therefore money. But how will it work in my application? Here is one theory. The car would be equipped with an RFID identifier as well as a reader. When I pass someone our information would be exchanged. Unfortunately I would only get the information of the person I am driving by and not the information from the person two cars over. So I guess that passive RFID won’t work. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t like passive RFID. I love it. Time to make a decision-I think that version 1.0 is going to be Zigbee, with a roadmap to WiMAX when voice capabilities are incorporated into the solution. As far as I can tell, everyone is going to be signing up for Car-Matchster as soon as I’m finished with product development, which in theory could be soon but for two issues:1) The Department of Transportation sent me a cease and desist note when I first proposed it. It seems that a little issue called ‘negligence’ was mentioned because it would cause accidents. 2) My girlfriend probably wouldn’t appreciate it

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  1. I like this Car matchster”” idea. The idea of taking the dead driving time and converting it into productive time finding a mate is great. Plus which, you have the security of the car preventing you from those embarassing turn downs to the women.Plus which, the carriers are now gouging an estimated $27,000,000,000 from data on cell phones: what could it be? It must be text messaging. If they could interposing themselves as the dating middlepeople, you could imagine that number skyrocketing.”

  2. Filippo, My only issue with these car sensor networks is state. Consider that there are N cars on the road. The car, and its driver, will have a hard time knowing their state in relation to the other cars on the road. You would have to tie your geographic position (i.e. GPS) with the status of the road. To this end, I think that GPS coupled with cellular or WiMAX might be optimal.Matt

  3. I think you are talking about what usually goes under the name of car-networks””, or at least a interesting/funny application for those.Back in the University I had friends researching on these topics (I was more in the RFID field) and maybe there are some articles they are writing about this soon to be published. I can tell you that 802.11 enhanced by smart-antennae is probably the best choice (the radiation pattern for those can be dynamically variated) but adjustments to the protocol must be done.Finally, the Department of Transportation has a point in that sense, but with car-networks you can broadcast valuable informations about traffic conditions and improve the safety on the streets…at least I hope this was the idea motivating the research of my friends!! :D”