Before I begin, I'm just going to pat myself on the back for this marvelously sensational sounding yet entirely appropriate headline. Alright, with that out of the way-- OnLive CEO Steve Perlman is back to his old tricks of blowing minds and unveiling technology that is all too easy to dismiss as vaporware, impossible, and all the other things that got thrown around when OnLive was first revealed. To make this a little easier to digest, let's back things up a bit and discuss exactly what Shannon's Law is all about. If you've ever been at a concert, sporting event, convention, or any other densely populated area and haven't been able to use your phone, you've already experienced it first hand. Shannon's Law (or the Shannon–Hartley theorem) has to do with the maximum amount of error-free data that can be transmitted wirelessly, which is why you can't Rick Roll your buddy at a football game, place a call in New York City, and other common problems that have just become normal in the world of cell phones-- Particularly as smartphones become more prevalent.

Dealing with the huge amount of data that smartphones use has turned into a massive problem for cellular carriers worldwide, but the latest breakthrough from Rearden Companies might change all that. They've made brand new radios that don't work anything like existing radios, and starting from the ground up have come up with a way to utilize the wireless spectrum in a way that isn't limited by Shannon's Law at all. With their earliest iterations of this technology they've been able to reach ten times what Shannon's Law says is possible. They also don't yet know the limit of just what they can do, but they know they can do "at least 100 times" what current cellular technology is doing in the same spectrum with 1ms latency at a few miles and 2ms latency at 30 miles.

Things get even crazier, though. Naturally you'd expect this new wireless technology to be both massive in size and complexity, but according to Perlman the radios are actually much simpler with a single antenna and use much less processing that's even taking place in current cell phones. That 30 miles mentioned before? That's not only beyond the curvature of the earth, it's also farther than a television station will transmit. Speaking theoretically, they expect to be able to reach 250 miles and the only reason they're even citing the 30 mile number is because of the time limitation of driving back and forth from test stations.

Perlman notes that the implications of this technology are "profound," and it's hard to disagree. Shannon's Law and the very real world limitations that we've all experienced using our cell phones is a serious issue for wireless engineers desperate to expand capacity to support the growing number of data-sucking smartphones in the wild. Beyond that though, with the latencies they're able to attain as well as the transmit distance, this could completely change the face of broadband in the world which has historically always been plagued by the last mile.

Aside from that, speaking specifically from a mobile gaming perspective, the massive decrease in latency would make twitch-based games completely playable without gobs of predictive netcode to compensate for massive ping times via current cellular networks. It's not hard to go wild speculating all the benefits this new technology could provide.

I know it's easy to dismiss all of this as impossible, wizardry, witchcraft, black magic, technobabble, or whatever other way you'd like to describe it. Consider this though: When OnLive was unveiled it wasn't entirely uncommon to see editorials like this one citing all the reasons why OnLive couldn't possibly work. But it does work. OnLive has been online and fully operational for over a year now. I've played games to completion using the service without issue, and the recent addition of the Micro Console to my household has made gaming with OnLive even better.

Specific details on how all this works are yet to be released, and it's hard to say how long it will take this initial unveiling to turn into an actual real-world product... But, the future looks bright and I'm overjoyed to have people like Steve Perlman in this world.

[via Engadget]

  • Tim Lord Gek Jordan

    I hereby sentence him to Shannon's AI maze for all of eternity (well assuming they could make it a little bigger than the model shown)!

  • Tim Lord Gek Jordan

    I hereby sentence him to Shannon's AI maze for all of eternity (well assuming they could make it a little bigger than the model shown)!

  • Tim Lord Gek Jordan

    I hereby sentence him to Shannon's AI maze for all of eternity (well assuming they could make it a little bigger than the model shown)!

  • Anonymous

    TA has really crossed a threshold with knob polishing "articles" like this. It's poorly written, vague, and seems to hint at some sort of beta testing relationship that Hodapp has entered into with OnLive. When reviewers start to venture into this golly-gee realm of boosterizing products, they become shills.

    Additionally, when they censor critical remarks like this one, they become autocratic, thin-skinned shills.

    What the shit is a "micro console?" i'd guess it's some sort of latency make-do like AT&T's personal cell tower which basically disguises the fact that the service is broken.

    BFF with the CEO. Okay, we get that. You didn't tell us a damned thing about OnLive though. You did, however, tell us a lot about the kind of game journalist you are.

  • Anonymous

    Apropos of naming a company after the one in Atlas Shrugged...

    There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

    • Stevenmilligan

      Best comment ever...

  • Aaron Sullivan

    Watched most all of the presentation and I'm impressed. Can't wait to find out more about the new wireless tech.

  • I'm 12 and what is this

    I want my instantly-charged iPhone 6 with no dropped calls and 100mbps download speeds already.  The technology is there!  

  • Anonymous

    They have a new radio does not work, almost any existing radio and start from the beginning has been to find a way to use this method is not limited at all frequencies of two-way radio in Shannon.
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  • Anonymous

    I had this information theory course at university where the teacher's only question during exams was "shannon inequalities". Everybody knew that and only studied that. Of course they changed the teacher right before I could give the exam and had to study the whole course. 

  • The Sombrero Kid

    The Article you link to on eurogamer is talking about how Onlive couldn't work the way this idiot Perlman was claiming, read the article before rubbishing it it's actually prophetic.

    • Zak H

      I sense much anger in you...

  • Joel Hirtle

    Upon reading the title of this article I assumed all was lost in Onlive. Why did I assume this? Because to me "Shannon's Law" sounds like some sort of paedophilia law passed in the name of a kid named Shannon, plus the way the picture was there, kinda looked mugshotish. I was much more relived when I read more into the article.

    • Mike

      HAHA I thought the exact same thing.

  • Business Blatherer

    Mathematically, Shannon's law will always hold.  Further, the assumptions that are used to prove Shannon's law have long been been perceived as liberal...not too restrictive.  That means that in practice you cannot even get very close to capacity.
    If you read the patent that backs this development you start to realize that there may be some physics tricks, but there is no "breaking" of Shannon's law.   The fact that it has taken several years of prototyping without public demonstrations suggests that the research is not reliable or only works in very limited scenarios.  Wireless design is a very popular field with many smart and creative people who have been trying to find new ways to get around communication limitations.  I'd take a wait-and-see approach on this one.  He has given us nothing but words at this point.  But some of you are going to want to believe that something amazing is coming...which I guess is fine.

    • Ed Hecht

      Onlive works. I have faith.

      • Sebastian Peitsch

        *dusts off his Zero Point Energy device*

        Would you like to buy something similarly impressive, Sir?

  • Mike


  • Anonymous

    Apple should immediately hire this Guy. Or Buy OnLive. He´s a piece of the puzzle 😀

    • Martijn Willemse

      If I'm not mistaken they had. Perlman designed the quicktime format if I'm not mistaken. 

      • Anonymous

        Well, i just hope they "rethink" their relationship, if i`m not mistaken, Steve wasn´t working for Apple for a few days and "it was the best thing that could happen" to him.

  • Anonymous

    Shannon Law and constraints of the real world we have experienced with our mobile phone is a serious problem. Its desperate to increase capacity to support the growing number of absorption tests.

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