Getting a Buzz From Wireless
So much so that they have been studying fruit flies. And not just because they can. They have put their time to good use and have worked with the U.K.'s Ministry of Defence and science/IT solutions firm QinetiQ to develop an algorithm to be used in the management of battlefield communications controllers (see Fruit Flies Inspire BTexact).
"While it may seem unusual for an innovation like this to develop from a study of the behaviour of cells in fruit flies, it's just one of the nature-inspired solutions we have produced," says Mike Carr, director of enterprise venturing at BTexact, stroking a baby iguana.
So what's all this cell behavior malarkey then? Well, as you all surely know, during the development of the Drosophila melanogaster fruit fly, "some cells must decide whether to make bristles - the sensory hairs of the adult fly. They do this by sending signals to the neighbouring cells and 'listening' for signals from those neighbours. As a result, the fly gets the right pattern of bristles without any central control."
(We are just going to have to take Mr. Carr's word for this; after all, he's holding the lizard.)
The BT brains realized this principle could be used to allow "the base-stations in a mobile phone network to negotiate with each other to decide how the available radio frequencies will be divided up to meet the demand for calls without causing unacceptable interference." This, in turn, allows "the network to continuously adapt to changes in demand for calls, and to ‘heal’ in the event of a base-station failure."
We at Unstrung have had some pretty brilliant ideas of our own, following weekends on the farm – they just weren't anything to do with the efficient use of spectrum.
— Ray Le Maistre, European Editor, Unstrung