WLAN vendor Aruba Networks publicly launched an open development lab designed to promote research on Wi-Fi networks and the all-wireless workplace, and accelerate the pace of research on wireless networks and applications.

Aruba Labs, which has been operating in stealth mode with educational institutions for the last two years, includes three separate initiatives: a Developers Program, an Advanced Directed Research Program and The Green Island Project, which looks at the implications of creating an all-wireless workplace.

The Developers Program distributes open-source software development kits and application programming interfaces created by Aruba Labs designed to help partners to rapidly prototype new wireless applications. These Windows- and Linux-based tools enable developers to add new functionality to Wi-Fi networks. For instance, the Center for Sensed Critical Infrastructure Research (CenSCIR) at Carnegie Mellon University is using Aruba access points to investigate the use of Zigbee sensors for automated monitoring systems. The WLAN becomes the backhaul for the system.

“Another group can take that research and then apply it to applications such as emergency evacuation systems and other warning systems such as lost persons warnings and shelter-in-place instructions,” said Michael Tennefoss, vice president of marketing with Aruba. “There are many implications for public safety as the opportunities are boundless.”

Earlier this year, Aruba introduced a family of hardened and explosion-resistant 802.11g-based access points that are capable of operating in harsh environments, which could create a host of valuable applications for the public-safety community, Tennefoss said. The public-safety sector has exclusive use of the 4.9 GHz band for Wi-Fi applications.
Another piece of Aruba Labs is the Advance Directed Research Program, which takes on challenging, blue-sky problems that explore the boundaries of wireless networking. Partners collaborate directly with Aruba Labs' engineers on sponsored research, joint development work, and grant-funded programs.
“Such projects might include, I have multiple autonomous vehicles and want them to map out terrain and communicate via a mesh network in a hostile environment,” Tennefoss said. “How do we do that?”

Aruba Labs’ multi-disciplinary Green Island Project sponsors research on the economic, environmental, and social ramifications of the all-wireless workplace. The project will tackle issues ranging from a building’s energy consumption and architectural design as a result of an all-wireless workplace to broader public-policy decisions such as how wireless workplaces might impact carbon emissions, Tennefoss said.

Aruba Labs' Developer's Program is open to all qualifying interested parties, while the Advanced Directed Research Program is available by invitation only. The Green Island Project is open to all K-12 and higher education institutions that are Aruba customers, and to commercial institutions on a case-by-case basis.