Practical applications for running IP over xylophones might be a stretch, but doing so can teach you a few things about the truly ubiquitous protocol.
A University of California Berkeley researcher named R. Stuart Geiger led this project, which he discussed earlier this year at the Association for Computing Machinery's Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Geiger's Internet Protocol over Xylophone Players (IPoXP) provides a fully compliant IP connection between two computers. His setup uses a pair of Arduino microcontrollers, some sensors, a pair of xylophones and two people to play the xylophones.
The exercise provided some insights into the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). It emulates a technique HCI specialists use to design interfaces called umwelt, which is a practice of imagining what the world must look like to the potential users of the interface. This experiment allowed participants to get the feel for what it would be like to be a circuit.
"I don't think I realized how robust and modular the OSI model is," Geiger said. "The Internet was designed for much more primitive technologies, but we haven't been able to improve on it, because it is such a brilliant model."
Making software projects work
San Francisco State University and other researchers are puzzling over why so many software projects wind up getting ditched, fail or get completed, but late and over budget. The key, they've discovered, is rethinking how software engineers are trained and managed to ensure they can work as teams.
The researchers, also from Florida Atlantic University and Fulda University in Germany, are conducting a National Science Foundation-funded study with their students that they hope will result in a software model that can predict whether a team is likely to fail. Their study will entail collecting information on how often software engineering students - teamed with students at the same university and at others -- meet, email each other, etc.
"We want to give advice to teachers and industry leaders on how to manage their teams," says Dragutin Petkovic, professor and chair of SF State's Computer Science Department. "Research overwhelmingly shows that it is 'soft skills,' how people work together, that are the most critical to success."
Ultra low-power wireless
Forget about 3G, 4G and the rest: University of Arkansas engineering researchers are focused on developing very low-power wireless systems that can grab data from remote sensors regardless of distortion along the network path.