Press Release                          

Old Colorado City Communications                   

September 15th, 1999 




Dave Hughes, co-owner of Old Colorado City Communications has won a 3 Year $1,029,000 continuing grant by the National Science Foundation to develop models using advanced wireless technologies to assist Biological Scientists gathering scientific data from remote and difficult locations and communicate it over the Internet. The first year award is $384,830, with work starting September 15th, 1999.

The biological science by wireless grant, ANI-9909218, is officially titled "Prototype Testing and Evaluation of Wireless Instrumentation for Ecological Research at Remote Field Locations." The award has been made through Hughes's small business, Old Colorado City Communications, as the fiduciary and administrative host organization. Hughes is the Principal Investigator and responsible for the work to be done. He has selected several assistants, including Mike Willett of Open Minds of Colorado Springs who specializes in wireless engineering. Hughes' partner, Larry Fox, who has extensive experience in 3d World countries, will administer the grant. Don Mitchell of the National Science Foundation oversees the grant project for the NSF.

Initially the 3 years of experiments and development will take place concurrently in the rain forests of Puerto Rico and the frozen lakes region of Northern Wisconsin. University scientists in oth places are involved in Long Term Ecological Research. Hughes findings will initially be shared with the 1,200 US scientists working at 21 other NSF funded Biological Sciences field ites across the US. However the work will be useful for scientific field research anywhere in the orld says Hughes. The wireless links will involve satellite connections as well as new forms of terrestrial wireless using a variety of solar, wind, or water generated electrical power to run miniaturized computer systems and wireless devices.

As an example, Hughes may use small spread spectrum radios to communicate continuously the night sounds of 'Coqui' - the thumnail-sized, unique frogs of Puerto Rico from a mountain top in the El Junque rain forest. Historically researchers have had to climb wet Mount Toro for hours after dark and use tape recorders from a blind for a few hours at a time to capture the sounds from a rare sub-species of Eleutherodactylus. Hughes expects when he is done, that anyone connected to the Internet in laboratories, science classes in schools, or even at home, can listen in real time to the rare tiny frogs. "It may sound like an adventure game," says Hughes "but it will support serious scientific research. I'll have a ball doing it, however." Other applications will link sensors measuring such things as chemistry, effects of light, growth, weather, and water properties in multiple environments.

Hughes, 71, has been developing original Internet applications for wireless communications for the past 8 years, having connected up rural schools in the San Luis Valley, science educators to polluted streams in Montana, public libraries in Mongolia, and the historical web site in the Old Colorado City Colorado district of Colorado Springs. This is the 5th National Science Foundation award for Hughes, who was named last year by Wired Magazine as one of the most original 'Wired 25' innovators in the world. He has been most recently published in Scientific American, and the MIT Press.

The NSF wireless field tests web site will be expanded to carry running reports on this new project.