“Look and Link” Wireless Tech Lets You Send Data Just by Pointing


There are several ways of pairing wireless devices today, mobile or otherwise, but some need very close proximity or NFC and the others need specific software steps to be followed to initiate a search. A team of researchers claim to have sum up with something better though. The researchers from South Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute have demoed a technology they call “Look and Link.” In a nutshell, it allows phones, watches, tablets and other smart gadgets to link to one another just by pointing. There's no need for a base station. Device-to-Device technologies already exist, but they need you to either touch devices together or to scan a list of available devices and choose which one you want. The biggest catch is this, your phone or tablet or whatever, must know the device ID of the target, like an IP address or a network nickname. The new method lets you do that just by aiming the things at the one you want to establish a connection with. The South Korean team, led by Young-Hoon Kim, used a new beam-forming technique called “Look and Link” which, via an array of antennas, directs the phone's transmission towards the correct receiving device. So, say the Look and Link tech is integrated in your Google Glass eyewear. All you need to do is look at a smart sign on a window or electro-posters, etc. and voila! The built-in antenna array forms a directional beam to transmit a query to the smart sign, avoiding all other devices. Not any beam patterns works of course. Kim and his team randomly varied the shape of the beam over short time intervals, jittering is what it's called. This way, they avoid sending the same signal to other devices within your line of sight or the direction you're pointing your phone towards, or whatever else. Device identification through pointing is one use for "Look and Link", as are fast data exchange connections, pairing between video capture and video output devices, etc. The only limitation is that it's hard to integrate more than two antennas in phones or wearables, and the technique needs at least four for now. Once wireless bands above 5GHz start being used by carriers, though, antennas won't have to be too large to catch the signal, and eight of them could fit in the space of a fingernail.