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Opportunistic communication channels

Opportunistic communication channels can be a technique used to facilitate emergent ad-hoc social or mobile communications networks. Opportunistic communication techniques will allow devices to try many different communication channels without any expectations or assumptions about the kind of network it will connect to. A device in an opportunistic network is called a node and these nodes are delay tolerant, and each device determines the nodes in range as well as the best transmission path.

Opportunistic communication networks are designed to be resilient, delay tolerant, carrier agnostic. For example Alice can carry her smart phone and send a transmission over every signal the phone is capable of transmitting on and whenever the opportunity arrives for any node of any kind to receive that message then it's transmitted to that node. That node then waits until a node is in it's range and transmits the message to that node. The message is transmitted in any form of signal that can carry the message from Alice to it's destination.

Opportunistic communication channels are very useful because Alice and Bob do not have to be concerned with how messages make their way back and forth to each other. They also don't have to be concerned about delay or time because these details don't matter as the message will be saved and wait to be transmitted from device to device until it gets to it's destination. This greatly simplifies the ability to transfer messages between Alice and Bob when using ad-hoc mobile mesh networks and these sorts of networks can be placed around a city or float above a city.

Opportunistic encrypted communication

Opportunistic encryption is a technique which by default resorts to an encrypted communication channel. Alice for example opens a line of communication with Bob and immediately checks to see if Bob is capable of deciphering the encrypted signal and if yes then an encrypted transmission is sent immediately but if no then a plain-text transmission is sent instead. Opportunistic encryption is a valuable security technique specifically because it simplifies the use of cryptography in communication. Opportunistic encryption may be used to thwart Eve (the eavesdropper) without the users Alice or Bob having to know that encryption is even being used as it could be an entirely background process.

Practical examples of opportunistic communication networks

Some practical examples include KioskNet, and NASA's disruption tolerant network for space operations. Disruption tolerant networks are another way of describing delay tolerant networks. Both of these networks are typically opportunistic communication networks but delay tolerance/disruption tolerance are features of opportunistic communication networks. These networks are interesting because they can allow Alice to send a message which hitches a ride on vehicles like cars and/or other vehicles which then hop from vehicle to vehicle until they reach their destination.

In the age of wearable computing this functionality can become particularly intruging. It is possible for example to tie in mediated or augmented reality such as an open version of Google Glass or Space Glasses, the decentralized personal clouds such as SAFE Network or Storj. It will be possible for people to tag what they see in the world, capture it, and then directly send it to their cloud or leave it for someone else.

Routing can be generated by genetic algorithms

In an anycast network routing may not be known in advance. A genetic algorithm can be used to generate the routing algorithim from which to find the best path from A to B. Alice does not have to concern herself with routing because over time the genetic algorithm would become more efficient at finding the best route to Bob.

Opportunistic communication channels can be very beneficial for increasing communication decentralization. A meshnet can form a decentralized Internet of a sort which can take advantage of these techniques as well as the trends in wearable computing to truly improve communication capabilities for a large number of people. Opportunistic encryption would come into the picture when privacy is a concern and it would encrypt by default so that no one can intercept transmissions between Alice and Bob in any stage.

Cryptography | Networking


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