After committing to my manager to write my first blog post, my brain went buzzing with all technology Jazz- edge computing, in-situ processing, and augmented reality, to name a few. All these technologies were university research topics a few years back and are now gliding past the lab evaluations to production and monetization. Going by the classic telecom ‘G’ timeline, these jargons can sustain an engineering sales team for the next five years. Lazing out at home, amidst the pandemic-induced lockdown, my sixth sense kicked in. There are definite signs of an inflection point in technology adoption, for the COVID-19 is the technology equivalent of the fall of the Berlin Wall. We might be fast pedaling to 6G some years before the current prediction, a safe and distant, 2030. It might be necessary for us to upgrade our 5G lingo to include a few 6G buzz words pretty soon.
I have no plans to evoke the tech gurus, writing about terrahertz bands (THz), mixed reality (XR), or ultra MIMO. It interests me to envision the wave of change that 6G will bring along to our lives, family, career, and relationships in the near future.
While 5G is mostly about creating intelligent machines, 6G will revolve around ‘connected intelligence’- a society of intelligent machines. 6G will generate a major improvement from the self-driving car to an autonomous transport system which incorporates the user, neighborhood, business, and regulatory parameters. The autonomous transport system can plan and organize the user itinerary based on the destination wait times and user preferences. For example, a consumer is taken to Starbucks and grocery pick up by a system generated plan, if the health care center appointment is getting delayed. Of course, the system will order your favorite coffee and check out your grocery cart in advance before you arrive at the respective lines for pick up.
Another major scale up is in the video conferencing and augmented reality, where hologram conferences will transform official meetings, personal travel, and social gatherings. Imagine a thanksgiving dinner with family members across the globe, dining in the connected kitchen, experiencing the same cuisine in a near-real dinner meeting. Health monitoring will evolve to include emotion sensing and continuous vital parameter monitoring. This will lead to distress management centers which can authorize rescue operations, drone attacks, or emergency medical procedures to save its citizens.
The use cases will more and more look like pages from a George Lucas script for Star Wars, but the technology behind these are quite real. Events such as FCC opening up the 95 GHz and 3000 GHz spectrum, Samsung Whitepaper on 6G, and early research on stable clocks and power converters are leading indicators to these technology enablers. These 6G enablers can be broadly classified into communication, computing, and caching (3C). Communication technology, which is prominent among the Cs, explore the building of TBps scale connectivity infrastructure through antenna arrays, non-terrestrial networks, and new spectrums. Communication technology is the area where most of the current research is focused on.
However, the use cases and adoption will heavily depend on the applications that can leverage this bandwidth. The systems that enables low power, low latency, and open computing are vital for efficient running of these applications. To address this, a significant investment is anticipated on split computing and wireless distributed computing. These architectures will integrate unused processor cycles from mobiles, cars, bots, computers, MECs, and smart devices. The local data is retained in the original device, thus limiting the need for raw data transfer. This helps in improving the trustworthiness of the system and achieving the benefits of parallel processing at the same time. The split computing adopts the principles of blockchain, creating data and processing ledgers, leaving behind rich metadata for advanced data processing algorithms.
Caching comes in once the connectivity and computing priorities are addressed. The preprocessed, trained data needs to be persistent and made available near the processor to implement the time-sensitive use cases, which I described earlier. Based on the historical data consumption and data patterns, the cache load and cache flush processes will be defined. The caches will be created with a network of high-speed persistent memory which can be embedded into furniture, apparels and fixtures (street lights).
This fall of Berlin Wall, the exponential rise in the demand for newer algorithms, efficient devices, and ergonomic designs will create a market hungry for engineering and technology innovations. Organizations will need to realign their priorities and will create clusters of innovation, operations (M&O), and consumer adoption. The successful companies will be around data-centric businesses focusing on extreme automation and personalization of B2B and B2C processes.
The social implications will also be felt with these technology spikes. You need to be cautious about personal portrayal, with the possibility of hologram calls in place of voice calls from your spouse, mother, or manager. The driving skills would be replaced by application training, social consciousness, and sustainability awareness, eliminating the need for taking a test on parallel parking. The health monitoring applications will improve the fitness perception and dietary expectations. The efficiency in commute and communication will provide time for entertainment and leisure travel, improving relationships.
This world which we move into, could be absolutely exciting or utterly terrifying based on your resilience and personal choice. Like never before, this is a time to embrace change, personally and professionally. Accepting the technology, exploring the benefits, and building awareness of implications of this advancement will lead to a well-aligned future. Accepting openness– standards, networks, data, human behavior– will be a good way to start bracing for this take off.
6G is not ready, at this moment, 5G has just arrived. The road to 6G will be extremely bumpy, involving and impacting regulatory framework, technology standards, social structure, interpersonal relationships, organizational performance, and consumer behavior. At the same time, this journey promises excitement like never before! We could very well be the last generation who drove a car, shifted gears manually, and listened to Google Maps for directions.
- Samsung 6G Vision. Samsung Whitepaper on 6G by Samsung research https://cdn.codeground.org/nsr/downloads/researchareas/6G%20Vision.pdf
- Service-aware 6G: An intelligent and open network based on the convergence of communication, computing and caching. Article published in Digital Communications and Networks, Volume 6, Issue 3, August 2020, Pages 253-260, Author : Yiqing, Zhou ; Ling, Liu; Lu, Wang; Ning, Hui; Xinyu, Cui; Jie, Wu; Yan, Peng; Yanli, Qi; Chengwen, Xing
- How Edge Computing is Redefining Cloud Technologies, by Christopher Bergey, Senior VP of Devices Products at Western Digital; https://blog.westerndigital.com/edge-computing-redefining-cloud-technologies
- Keynote Summary, Fifth ITU Workshop on Network 2030 Geneva, Switzerland, 14 – 16 Oct 2019. https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/Workshops-and-Seminars/2019101416/Documents/Output_5_Workshop_Net2030.pdf
- Redis 6: A high-speed database, cache, and message broker by By Martin Heller, Contributing Editor, InfoWorld https://www.infoworld.com/article/3563354/redis-6-a-high-speed-database-cache-and-message-broker.html