Cognitive Radio technology works on the widest possible range of spectrum and helps drastically upgrade infrastructure to support growing workloads.

The device can handle 400 megabits per second of data, which is about eight times what a typical home Wi-Fi system can do and enough to dispatch 20 HD movies simultaneously. This kind of high speed wireless networking can further evolve tele-presence and promote yet-to-be seen remote medical and surgical applications.

For example, it can deliver a streaming video while switching between various available spectrum based on quality of service seamlessly and without any perceivable change in the media to the viewer.

Radio Technology Systems (RTS), which was spun out of Winlab at Rutgers, has developed CogRadio, the most advanced cognitive radio to hit the market to date.

RTS charges $4,975 for their “wide tuning software enabled radio platform”, which is the first radio capable of operating from 100 megahertz to 7.5 gigahertz, meaning all the way from AM and FM through TV, Wi-Fi and cellular frequencies. With its smart switching technology, the RTS radio is capable of switching between frequencies at 50 microseconds, and in some cases as little as one microsecond.

“You want to jump around in radio spectrum as fast as possible and as far as possible, and when you land somewhere, you want to grab as much spectrum as you can, and pump it in and out of the radio, and these are actually very challenging to do,” says Chip Elliot, project director for the NSF’s cognitive radio project at BBN in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “This radio is perfect for things like that.”

The National Science Foundation has chosen CogRadio as a test bed for the agency’s research efforts to build a mobile-centric Internet, in which radio communications and smartphones are seen as the major delivery vehicle for Internet access. CogRadio will also be used to conduct one of the first outdoor tests of cognitive radio technology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Previous cognitive radio research has been conducted in shielded labs to protect against the potential for dangerous interference, but the FCC has recently begun approving outdoor permits to promote research. Virginia Tech researchers are using the gadgets to develop next-generation high-speed broadband police, fire and emergency radios that include video and Internet access.

“It’s the most usable and versatile wideband radio the research community has ever had access to,” says Dipankar Raychaudhuri, director of the Winlab, the wireless research lab at Rutgers University, where the technology was codeveloped. Existing models, he says, can’t switch fast enough, and have limited spectrum range and data-carrying capacity. “Today, it is the best available experimental cognitive radio, and this is crucial because the whole community is gearing up” to test and deploy such technology.

“While this is an important milestone for realizing high-performance and usable cognitive radios, much more work needs to be done by industry on chip design, interfaces, and much else,” Raychaudhuri says.