Queen's research could help protect frontline troops

November 04, 2009

A team of researchers at Queen's University Belfast's Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) is working to develop futuristic communications systems that could help protect frontline troops.

Building on work completed recently for the UK Ministry of Defence, the project is aimed at investigating the use of arrays of highly specialised antennas that could be worn by combat troops to provide covert short-range person-to-person battleground communications.

The project could lead to the development of advanced wireless systems that would enable small squads of soldiers to share real-time video, covert surveillance data and tactical information with each other via helmet mounted visors.

The equipment would bring major benefits to members of the armed forces by providing high levels of situational awareness in hostile environments as well as helping to preserve the element of surprise in close encounters with an enemy.

Details of the project appear in the most recent edition of IEEE Communications Magazine - one of the most authoritative international academic publications in the field.

According to lead researcher, Dr Simon Cotton of CSIT's Radio Communications Research Group, it is the seventh article the team has published on the topic in leading academic journals since the beginning of 2009.

"This is a major achievement and underlines the fact that the group is now a recognised international leader in the area of Body Area Networks (BANs). Our paper in IEEE Communications Magazine is also the first to be published on Body-to-Body Networks (BBNs)," says Dr Cotton.

"Through our work, we aim to overcome some formidable challenges as the proposed wireless devices will be expected to operate in a range of environments much more exacting than those encountered in civilian life.

"Despite this, they still need to be extremely reliable, efficient and resilient to 'jamming' or interception and decryption by enemy forces

"Our job is to help make them a reality by modelling how the devices would work in real life; how the signals would be transmitted to and from the body of each user and what types of antennas would be required to allow them to function properly.

"To do this, we are modelling specific combat scenarios using state-of-the-art animation normally used to create computer games.

"We believe that ultimately this work will lead directly to the development of new applications not only for the military but also for the emergency services and the sports and entertainment markets," adds Dr Cotton.
-end-
NOTES TO EDITORS:

William Scanlon is available for interview. Please telephone 028 90 97 3091 to arrange.

CSIT (www.csit.qub.ac.uk/)


Officially opened in September 2009, the £30 million Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen's University Belfast has been set up to exploit the university's international research expertise in high performance data and network security and intelligent surveillance. The Centre is one of the first Innovation and Knowledge Centres (IKCs) created in the UK. Funders include the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Technology Strategy Board. In addition, to date, 20 organisations have committed to support CSIT's work over the next five years. They include industrial partners such as BAE Systems and Thales UK as well as government agencies and international research institutes.

Radio Communications Research Group (www.ee.qub.ac.uk/radio/)

The seven body-centric communications research papers published so far this year were written by researcher, Dr Simon Cotton of the Radio Communications Research Group at Queen's. To mark the achievement, Dr Cotton was presented with a special award for outstanding performance by Professor John McCanny, Head of the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen's University Belfast.

Technology

The Radio Communications Research Group project commissioned by the UK Ministry of Defence is based on devices operating at 60 GHz. These offer a number of distinct advantages over competing lower frequency technologies including increased stealth and reduced risk of interference. In addition, devices operating at this frequency enable greater miniaturisation. This facilitates the construction of wearable smart antenna arrays capable of electrically steering highly focused beams of electromagnetic energy in chosen directions. Similar low-cost 60 GHz technology is being employed for commercial applications such as high speed transfer of high definition television signals within the home.

For further information, please contact Lisa McElroy, Tel: 028 90 97 5384 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

Queen's University Belfast

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