Think your cell phone’s smart? “Cognitive radio” technology is set to take that intelligence to a new level by creating wireless devices with individual and collective reasoning and learning abilities.

Virginia Tech’s Center for Wireless Telecommunications (CWT) has received a three-year US National Science Foundation grany to develop cognitive radio technology and advance “cognitive network” capabilities.

A news release describes cognitive radios as “like intelligent cell phones or police radios that can determine the best way to operate in any given situation. Instead of blindly following a set of predefined protocols, like regular radios, cognitive radios can now configure to their environment and their user’s needs.”

CWT’s approach is that, “The new cognitive radios are similar to living creatures in that they are aware of their surroundings and understand their own and their user’s capabilities and the governing social constraints,” according to Center director Charles W. Bostian.

The grant will fund research into allowing the radios to share a distributed knowledge base to use for individual and collective reasoning and learning.

“We approached this network like you would approach a community of animals,” says Bostian. “First, we teach the radios to seek others of their own kind and recognize their environment, thus creating a network. Then the CWT team teaches the different cognitive radios to work together.”

More here.