Bhaskar Krishnamachari, 33
Smarter wireless networks
University of Southern California
By creating smarter wireless networks that can handle mobile devices and interference more efficiently than today's Wi-Fi and cellular networks, Bhaskar Krishnamachari aims to ease the increasing digital congestion of the airwaves and open the door to new applications for wireless communications.
For example, Krishnamachari is working with General Motors on a vehicle-to-vehicle network that lets cars in motion swap information about traffic flow and road conditions. His design can reliably route data within a shifting network of cars and other vehicles across freeways and city streets without having to tax the congested cellular network. One key to his approach is that data is not directed to specific addresses, as is standard in many computer networks. Instead, packets of data are labeled with tags that describe things such as the packet's contents, the geographic area the information is relevant to, and the time when the data should be considered out of date. Data is passed along the fleeting connections as needed and soon discarded. "This is opening up additional, almost free, bandwidth," he says. —Tom Simonite