Electronic social network

UK researchers aim to discover how mobile phones might be used to allow people to intelligently share content with each other.

Researchers from the School of Computer Science at Cardiff University have secured EU funding to discover how mobile phones might be used to allow people to intelligently share content with each other.

Working with colleagues at Oxford University, Cambridge University and four other leading continental institutions, the Cardiff researchers plan to radically re-think the means by which electronic content is communicated between wireless-enabled devices.

More specifically, they aim to investigate how mobile peer-to-peer networking might allow users to directly share data when they come into range, and then pass that data on to another user at some later time.

Potential applications could include messaging or sharing multimedia content such as songs, internet links and documents. People could also share local information about their environment, like the weather or transport delays.

As the devices in mobile peer to peer networking communicate on a one-to-one basis, there would be no need for them to rely on the Internet or mobile phone networks.

The research represents a complete change of direction for communication engineering, which traditionally views disconnection in a network as a nuisance to be overcome, rather than an inherent characteristic on which systems could be based.

The project brings together experts from diverse disciplines including social anthropology, complex system dynamics, network engineering and computer science.

The so-called SOCIALNETS project itself is valued at more than £2.1m.