New 6G challenges inspire interdisciplinary innovation

Bold advances in research will underpin future connectivity

Addressing these physical and technical limitations will require leaps in innovation, but the promise of applications powered by advanced 6G connectivity is prompting creative solutions.

Adaptive technology solutions are a key area of ​​research. Instead of focusing on optimizing bandwidth for a single device, for example, the 6G network will use nearby devices to help provide needed bandwidth and reduce latency. This form of 3D signaling focuses on combining and processing wireless signals from multiple sources, based on their proximity to the end user.

New semiconductor materials will help manage device space requirements as well as handle broader frequency bands. Although it requires complex engineering, one promising approach combines traditional silicon circuits with those made from more exotic compound semiconductors, such as indium phosphide. In addition, researchers are looking at ways to change the environment with reconfigurable smart surfaces (“smart surfaces”) that can optimize signal propagation to modify signals in real time to deliver better bandwidth and lower latency.

Another avenue of research is based on artificial intelligence to manage networks and optimize communications. Different types of network usage (texting, gaming, and streaming, for example) create different types of network demand. AI solutions allow a system to predict this demand based on behavioral patterns, rather than requiring engineers to always design for the highest levels of demand.

Nichols sees great potential for networks from improvements in artificial intelligence. “Today’s systems are so complex, with so many levers to deal with varying demands,” Nichols says, “that most optimization decisions are limited to first-order adjustments like more sites, upgraded radios, better backhaul, gateways, and more. more efficient data link. , and strangling certain users.” Rather, employing artificial intelligence to drive optimization, she says, presents “an important opportunity to move to autonomous, self-optimizing, self-organizing networks.”

Virtual simulations and digital twin technology are promising tools that will not only aid in 6G innovation, but will be further enabled by 6G once it is established. These emerging technologies can help companies test their products and systems in a sandbox that simulates real-world conditions, allowing equipment manufacturers and application developers to test concepts in complex environments and create early product prototypes for future use. 6G networks.

While innovative solutions have been proposed by engineers and researchers, Nichols notes that building 6G networks will also require consensus among technology providers, carriers and carriers. As the rollout of 5G networks continues, industry players must create a cohesive vision of what applications the next-generation network will support and how its technologies will work together.

However, it is this collaboration and complexity that can lead to the most exciting and long-lasting results. Nichols notes that the breadth of engineering specialties required to build 6G and the industry collaboration required to launch it will drive exciting cross-disciplinary innovation. Due to the resulting demand for new solutions, the road to 6G will be paved, in Nichols’s words, with “a vast amount of technical research, development and innovation, from electronics to semiconductors, antennas, radio network systems, Internet protocols and artificial technology. intelligence to cybersecurity.

This content was produced by Insights, the personalized content arm of MIT Technology Review. It was not written by the MIT Technology Review editorial team.

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