Technology invented at Virginia Tech that harnesses a new area of artificial intelligence to improve wireless performance and defend wireless devices has taken a major step toward the public market.

The university and an Arlington-based start-up, DeepSig, recently executed a licensing agreement that allows the company to further develop for consumer use the innovative wireless communications and cybersecurity technology invented by researchers at Virginia Tech’s Hume Center for National Security and Technology.

“This technology leverages a field of artificial intelligence called machine learning in a new way in order to design a next generation of powerful wireless communications systems,” said Virginia Tech researcher and DeepSig founder Tim O’Shea. “It will be faster, more cost efficient, more secure, and easier to deploy than today’s wireless systems.”

The new technology can be applied to everything from personal cellphones and Bluetooth devices to vehicular communications, radars, and sensing systems. Its benefits will likely not only be better protection from cyber intrusions, but also increased efficiency, battery life, and reliability.

“Today’s global landscape demands security in the cyberdomain. This groundbreaking technology is capable of threat identification that can be scaled to protect our nation’s infrastructure, as well as private businesses and individual homes,” said Theresa Mayer, Virginia Tech’s vice president for research and innovation.

The partnership between DeepSig and the university not only resulted in groundbreaking work, but is also an example of the type of joint effort that can solve pressing global challenges and promote economic development in the commonwealth and beyond.

“Virginia Tech has provided a great foundation for the start-up,” Mayer said. “Such mutually beneficial partnerships that combine innovation and entrepreneurship provide a path for university research discoveries with commercial potential to be turned into products and services that benefit society.”

The widespread potential benefits of this research drew funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia in December, with a $1.1 million competitive state grant from the Virginia Research Investment Fund. This was matched by DeepSig, which is the latest company to grow out of the ecosystem fostered at the Hume Center.

“DeepSig is one of eight start-up companies founded by Virginia Tech faculty affiliated with the Hume Center for National Security and Technology,” said center director Charles Clancy, “These companies have raised over $120 million in venture funding since 2012 and currently employ nearly 200 people, the majority in the Commonwealth of Virginia. We are proud of the tremendous work of our faculty in commercializing technologies invented at Virginia Tech.”

Developing such partnerships to drive Virginia’s economy is one of the primary goals of the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative, a $25 million investment in the 2018-20 Virginia state budget aimed to position the state as a global leader in cybersecurity.

Virginia Tech was asked to lead this initiative, which includes building cyber-related research, education, and engagement through a primary “hub” to be located in Northern Virginia and a network of “spoke” sites across the commonwealth with collaborating universities in Virginia and industry partners. Its aim is to catalyze research, innovation, and the commercialization of cybersecurity technologies and address the state’s need for growth of advanced degrees and professional training within the cyber workforce.