Research Projects NTT-MIT Research Collaboration: a partnership in the future of communication and computation

ORNET: A Network for the Operating Room of the Future

(formerly: "Software Technologies for Wireless Communication and Multimedia")


Start date: 07/2000

John Guttag and Hari Balakrishnan

Shuji Kubota

Project summary

The SpectrumWare project seeks to develop flexible and adaptive communications and computation systems that adapt easily to unanticipated user and application requirements, as well as to dynamically changing communication channel conditions.

Project description


Wireless communication and multimedia require more diverse network support than is provided by today's wired networks or communications hardware. Current networks and hardware are optimized for fixed applications (e.g., reliable data transfer or GSM cellular telephony). They are generally designed to provide a guaranteed level of service under anticipated worst-conditions. As a result, they waste resources most of the time (e.g., in the average case), and they perform poorly much of the time (e.g., because they do not allocate resources as they are needed).

SpectrumWare provides flexibility in system design by moving the hardware/software boundary closer to the antenna and by performing real-time signal processing and other computations in portable application-level software. The scope of the SpectrumWare project includes:

  • novel signal-processing algorithms that support digital communication over dynamically changing channels
  • protocols for "radioactive networks" that enable network devices to respond to current operating conditions and application requirements, downloding and installing new software as needed from server-based libaries
  • an application program interface that enables network devices to trade off transmission rate against power consumption

Demos, movies and other examples

Video clip of SpectrumWare applications (FM, cellular telephone, black and white television receivers).

Preliminary design document for an "Operating Room Sensor Network".

The principal investigators

Presentations and posters

Poster: "Patient Care Network: From Bench to Bedside" 2001

John Ankcorn, "Software Technologies for Wireless Communication and Multimedia", NTT, Japan, January 2001.

John Guttag, "Virtual Radios for Addpative Application-Specific Networking,", MIT Project Oxygen Partnership Alliance Kickoff, June 20, 2000.

Stephen Garland, "RadioActive Networks: Robust Wireless Communications", DARPA Active Networks Demo Meeting, Atlanta, Georgia, December 7, 2000.



John Guttag, John Ankorn, Hari Balakrishnan and Dorothy Curtis, ORNET: A Network for the Operating Room of the Future, 2001.

Proposals and progress reports


NTT Bi-Annual Progress Report, July to December 2000:

NTT Bi-Annual Progress Report, January to June 2001:

NTT Bi-Annual Progress Report, July to December 2001:

NTT Bi-Annual Progress Report, January to June 2002:

For more information