In my childhood, I used to love my Grandfather's wireless. It was big, blocky, had a wooden grill on the front and those radio buttons whose only memorial these days is as a GUI component. That wireless is one of the strongest memory that I have of my Grandfathers house, aside from the large stapler which my elder brother one day used to puncture his index finger.
It's a great pleasure, then, that in recent years this word has been rejuventad. Nowadays, we sit in a sea of wireless radio traffic, continually passing email, software and cheap porn through our bodies, racing its ways toward avidly consuming computers.
I always thought that wireless technology was underused. Currently, we carry Ipods backward and forward to work, so that we can listen to our new brand new Kylie CD's at their machine, thereby throwing our dull, pointless working existence into sharp relief.
I think this is nonsensical. Most of us have wireless at work, many of us have wireless at home and quite a few of us use some form of vehicle to move between work and home; either a car or, for sandle wearing hippies, a bike.
Why not, then, embed a hard drive and wireless reciever into the vehicle? This way after ripping your CD 1 onto your home computer, it would immediately connect with your car juke box, download the new information. That way, when you finally reached work, all the information would be more or less local and could be moved to your work machine via the local network.
There was an old saying in the dim distant past, when everyone used modems which would communicate with remote machines in morse code, which went — never underestimate the bandwidth of a floppy and a number 9 bus. We can take this form of vehicle born internet traffic as a modern day version of this maxim.
Of course, the implications are wider than just transporting music. Quite a lot of internet traffic is not actually that urgent. There is no real reason why this should not be moved off the standard internet into cars. I quite like to back my home machine up periodically to work. Why not just queue this until a appropriately equiped car passes my house? As I live in a residential area, the car might well be in range for 10 or 15 seconds, enough time to get perhaps 20 or 30M onto a machine. Add to this, a few road side caches onto which the data could be downloaded if the car went the wrong way, until a vehicle with a more appropriate desintation went by.
Under this environment, major arterial routes, bus and train routes, and taxis could become a major contributor to the internet backbone 2. The M6, which has 100 cars a minute passing down it could probably carry several 100G of data a second, albeit with a fairly bad latency. Given the speed of wireless traffic compared to cars, you could even transfer data from car to car backward against the flow of traffic. Even airplanes could provide a contribution 3.
As well as backups, you could also use this system for pre-emptive caching of heavy duty websites. When the new reality TV show is produced, it could be distributed over the entire country in a few hours to local municiple caches.
All of which would serve as a far better memorial to my Grandfathers wireless than a few tedious GUI option boxes.
Looks like I am not the only person to have this idea. A BBC News article reports on a peer-to-peer network idea for cars, being used to transfer road traffic information in the first case. Remember you heard it here first, by several years!
1. This is, of course, very naughty, probably illegal, breaking copyright restrictions and in no way related to "fair use" and not recommended in any way.
2. Those vehicles which have a defined destination—buses, lorries, and taxies with GPS systems—would be particularly valued and the optimisation algorithms would probably generate enough Computer Science papers to comsume most of the bandwith saved.
3. The current theory that wireless equipment will make planes crash seems to have fallen away, somewhat suspiciously, once the airlines realised that they could make lots of cash charging for internet access.