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Fast and Accurate Synchronization in the 'blink' of an Eye

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A unique timepiece.

University of Southern California researchers have demonstrated what they term the first wireless network synchronized to a billionth of a second.

Credit: Vera Kratochvil

Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) have experimentally demonstrated the first wireless network synchronized to a billionth of a second. Their prototype consists of four nodes that synchronize to each other with an accuracy of approximately three nanoseconds.

The researchers also developed Blink, an algorithm that extends this level of accuracy to hundreds or even thousands of wireless devices. "Our group's Blink protocol will allow for wireless transmission over longer distances with less energy and stands to improve the overall efficiency of wireless networks," says USC Viterbi School of Engineering professor Andreas Molisch.

The researchers say synchronizing an entire network of wireless devices to such accuracy would facilitate an array of new possible applications, from precise localization to energy-efficient transmission for Internet of Things sensor networks.

The development also has several military applications, such as for coordinated signal jamming of enemy military receivers and coordinated operation of unmanned aerial vehicles. However, driverless cars, robots in homes or industrial settings, and people with vision impairments also could benefit from the research.

From University of Southern California
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