Novel ITI Timing-Based Communication Technology Receives Award
Two Information Trust Institute faculty members who developed an innovative trustworthy communication scheme are now preparing it for commercial release with the help of a $100,000 award from the 2008-2009 Grainger Program in Emerging Technologies.
Professor Todd P. Coleman and Professor Negar Kiyavash have developed a practical timing-based communication system called "Lonnruner," which is robust to queuing system effects that act like "noise" to disrupt packet timings. In the 1990s, the fundamental limits of communication with timings were characterized by another team of researchers in award-winning theoretical work, but before Lonrunner, no practical schemes for attaining these limits had been developed. "Our error-correction timing codes are a practical embodiment of those earlier theoretical results," explains Coleman. "They demonstrate the promise of using timing as a new degree of freedom to communicate, control, and analyze networked systems."
Lonnruner makes it possible to embed extra information in existing packet flows without changing the packet contents. When fully mature, the technology will be marketed as a novel information-embedding system that can benefit a host of applications through its ability to avoid altering packet contents. "For example, with Lonnruner, advertisers could transmit advertising information to users along with whatever data they were intentionally downloading," says Kiyavash. The scheme could also be used in a host of security applications. For example, it could be used to overcome a serious security problem with IP-based video surveillance systems: the possibility that prerecorded video frames, instead of authentic images, may be relayed in packet contents. Lonnruner can embed information that identifies the specific camera or the time of the recording into the timing of video packet frames, thus ensuring the authenticity of the video frames.
The Grainger Program in Engineering Technologies was created by the Grainger Foundation of Lake Forest, Illinois, in order to promote the translation of new academic developments in engineering, such as Lonnruner, into commercially viable products and services. It is designed to bridge the gap between traditional funding for basic theoretical research and typical industry funding, which targets already-proven technologies. The Grainger Foundation was established by William W. Grainger, who graduated from Illinois in 1919 with a degree in electrical engineering.
Coleman holds faculty appointments in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Neuroscience Program, and the Coordinated Science Laboratory at Illinois, and concentrates on research in information theory, operations research, computational neuroscience, and brain-machine interfaces. Kiyavash is an expert on information theory and statistical signal processing with applications to computer, communication, and multimedia security. She holds an appointment in the Department of Computer Science and in January will join the faculty of the Department of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering.