The Rearden Labs whitepaper on “Distributed Input Distributed Output” (DIDO) wireless technology has disappointed me in many ways.
1. First, it didn’t really talk about the technology used.
Based on the single-antenna description provided, I’m guessing it uses a starter ping in the target frequency to characterize all the local reflections, kind of like sonar. The client antenna may even communicate the reflection pattern seen back via some older wireless technology, like WiFi. Signals after that initial ping are just patterned based on the reflection map, to hit the receiver all at once. Depending on the reflection space size and frequency used, the signal pattern from the source may not even resemble a traditional radio signal, but the result on the receiving end where the reflections converge would be as unmistakable as the Morse Code blip of a telegraph. A MIMO antenna array could use beam-forming to generate a unique reflection pattern in every direction, and each beam individually could fall well below FCC regulated power maximums, yet combine into a powerful (high SNR) signal at the receiver end (and only very near the receiver — within the reception bubble mentioned in the whitepaper).
2. The business model seems opportunistic, not technologically necessary.
If the DIDO processing is so difficult that it needs the old centralized/mainframe computation business model to support it, then how will it ever be cost effective? I think the real answer is that the processing isn’t actually that difficult. A <$500 PC can render realistic 3D environments, and it can probably perform all the same math as any Rearden Lab prototype machine. Investors are just looking for ways to force DIDO “users” into a high-margin subscription (read: perpetual servitude) model, instead of offering any low-margin commodity hardware model.
Hey Rearden Labs: the “low-margin commodity hardware model” worked for 3M! You should be aiming for ubiquity, not punishing your consumers.
3. The “snake oil” fears are easily diffused: tell the whole truth.
The real lie is the one that sustains the whole wireless industry, from AM/FM radio to cell phone subscriptions — the claim that radio interferes. Radio is just a form of light outside human visible range. We know light does not interfere, otherwise that camera obscura inside your head (the eye) wouldn’t work. Light passes through distinct points in space unperturbed — including your own pupils — every single day! If light interfered, you couldn’t read these words right now. The problem isn’t radio — it’s your stupid antenna. Take a single rod or even cone out of your eye’s retina, stick it outside its protective enclosure, and it will see just as badly as any TV antenna. Light doesn’t interfere, but dumb antennas don’t know any better.
If DIDO helps rid humanity of the myth of interference, I welcome it wholeheartedly. The whitepaper makes no attempt. This is in service to its writers’ goals: monopolizing all the counter-myth benefits.
The Register writer Richard Chirgwin is right to be suspicious, but this article is suspicious for all the wrong reasons.