Mark Ettus and Eric Blossom wondered. The two originally started out trying to capture over the air HDTV signals. Why? Because it was there, my friends,
because it was there
. After securing a grant from the National Science Foundation, the pair came up with the Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP), a device made possible by the ever-increasing speeds of computer processors. With the right daughtercards and software, the device can do not only FM radio, but GPS, emergency band transmissions; it can even open garage doors.
There are other pieces of equipment that do this, but Ettus and Blossom’s solution reputedly runs about a tenth of the price, about $550 for the motherboard, and from $75-$275 for the daughtercards.