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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Sanjit Biswas, 25

Cheap, easy Internet access

Meraki Networks

Sanjit Biswas worked on a system for connecting local residents to the Internet wirelessly. In 2006, a nonprofit group asked if the technology could help provide Internet service to the poor. Intrigued, Biswas took a leave of absence to cofound Meraki Networks in Mountain View, CA, and create wireless mesh networks that would link people to the Internet cheaply.

In most mesh networks, all the nodes that receive a particular data packet forward it on; but in Biswas's version, the nodes "talk" to each other and decide, on the basis of the packet's destination and their own signal strengths, which one of them should forward it. The protocol also takes into account changing network conditions, as users sign on or off, or, say, a passing truck blocks a node's radio signal. Biswas's protocol, combined with commonly available hardware components, allows Meraki to produce Wi-Fi routers that cost as little as $50. (The routers Biswas used at MIT initially cost $1,500.)

Here's how a Meraki network works: a user plugs a router into a broadband Internet connection; that person's neighbors stick routers to their windows, and a mesh network of up to hundreds of people forms automatically. Users can give away or sell Internet access to their neighbors. There are already Meraki-based networks in 25 countries, from Slovakia to Venezuela, serving more than 15,000 users.

--Neil Savage


2007 TR35 Winners

Sanjit Biswas

Cheap, easy Internet access

Josh Bongard

Adaptive robots

Garrett Camp

Discovering more of the Web

Mung Chiang

Optimizing networks

Tadayoshi Kohno

Securing systems cryptographically

Tariq Krim

Building a personal, dynamic Web page

Ivan Krstic´

Making antivirus software obsolete

Jeff LaPorte

Internet-based calling from mobile phones

Karen Liu

Bringing body language to computer-animated characters

Anna Lysyanskaya

Securing online privacy

Tapan Parikh

Simple, powerful mobile tools for developing economies

Babak Parviz

Self-assembling micromachines

Partha Ranganathan

Power-aware computing systems

Kevin Rose

Online social bookmarking

Marc Sciamanna

Controlling chaos in telecom lasers

Desney Tan

Teaching computers to read minds

Luis von Ahn

Using “captchas” to digitize books

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