A group of researchers at National Instruments have found a way to listen to radio signals while receiving on the same frequency.
The team found a solution that relies on in-band full duplex, so it can sense while transmitting, which potentially eliminates all collision overheads in wireless networks.
This could have huge implications – and even give your home wifi a boost if you have a lot of users – certainly will give the office and cafe wifi hotspots a boost.
The problem with existing wireless communications is that once a device starts transmitting, it doesn’t know if another device has transmitted at the same time (causing a collision) until it has finished transmitting and waited for an acknowledgement from the Access Point. If no acknowledgement comes, it tries again. This is called Carrier Sense, Multiple Access with Collission Avoidance (CSMA/CA).
Your ancient (1980-c2000) shared Ethernet on the other hand operated in much the same way, a device would start transmitting, but was able to detect if any other device transmitted at the same time, and so stop transmitting immediately. This was called Carrier Sense, Multiple Access with Collission Detection (CSMA/CD) and is course much more efficient than Collision Avoidance.
But that is not the whole story. Modern wired Ethernet networks use two pairs of wires to transmit, and another to recieve, meaning they can transmit AND receive at the same time. Full Duplex. If we could do that for wireless, (and this article indicates that they have achieved full-duplex operation albeit with just 6 devices at this stage), then the benefits could be much greater.