We often hear how connectivity has improved public services and business modes, such as enhancing the safety and efficiency of offshore wind farms and making the smartification of cities possible by virtue of working in an industry that is pushing connectivity boundaries. Evan Kirstel, B2B thought leader and technology influencer, shares how digital-physical fusion and human augmentation are the two main trends that are expected to spearhead future developments in connectivity.
Enhanced human-computer interfaces and immersive experiences that allow humans to not only become users of the internet but also part of it is what human augmentation is all about. Virtual and augmented reality-powered devices are the future, as we leave two-dimensional devices in the past. A variety of innovations, including bio-digital interfaces and exoskeletons, are some of the different forms of the augmentation of the human body you can expect to see in the next decade.
Our perception of the world around us will change with this technology. Using this technology, we will be able to identify safety risks and pick up on pollution levels nearby when working. People with serious mobility issues will also be able to walk without any assistance with the help of this technology.
Digital-physical Fusion and its Implications
Another separate but closely related idea involving an emerging technology is digital-physical fusion, which refers to linking physical assets to their digital versions. To reduce operating costs and boost operating costs, advanced logistics sites and factories are already operating digital twins of their vehicles, warehouses and production lines. The technology is expected to spread across society and other sectors, such as mining, where dangerous environments can be made safer. We also have a good indication of where things might be headed given the recent discussion involving the metaverse – in which people like you and I could have a digital twin!
Ubiquitous next-generation connectivity is needed for the realization of both of these emerging technology trends. For such technologies to exist, networks must provide flawless reliability, very low latency and more than 100 gigabits-per-second. Fool-proof privacy and security will also be necessary as these technologies will be integrated into mission-critical public services and infrastructure.
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These emerging technologies cannot get the necessary level of service from today’s networks – despite their unmatched capacity, reliability and flexibility. As such, moving into the future, there will need to be a significant change in the way networks are set up and utilized. As telecoms continue to refine their existing services and products in line with their technology cycle, some requirements will be satisfied naturally. However, networks will have to change in 3 new and highly specific ways in the coming years if some of these emerging needs are to be met.
Today’s networks are unable to meet the required level of service for emerging tech even though they offer higher capacity and are more reliable and flexible than ever before.
To begin with, there is the need to create extreme performance specialized networks. Private on-premise networks – designed for the highest flexibility and reliability, and lowest latency – will be needed to service the most data-hungry or sensitive industry 4.0 applications. Given that each patient would require a variety of connected sensors, and extreme computing power would be required in diagnostic or surgical processes, smart hospitals would be classified under this category.
The introduction of networks of networks is the second way in which today’s networks will need to evolve. To provide a new level of ubiquity, local capacity and reliability, overlapping non-terrestrial and terrestrial networks will be used to create a patchwork of blanket coverage. By enhancing networks with high-throughput and low-orbit satellites, catering to 95 percent of the surface of the earth not covered by land-based networks at present, seamless coverage can be realized.
Last but not least, just like any cloud service, like Netflix, networks as a service will make it possible for whole networks to be utilized on a pay-as-you-go arrangement. The burden of acquiring, setting up or maintaining physical network infrastructure will be eliminated for network owners when it comes to creating their own networks.
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Society’s ability to generate wealth and become more sustainable will be enhanced with these forms of network evolution because even if they sound theoretical, they have the ability to facilitate high-speed connectivity to communities, public organizations and businesses. For instance, dynamic energy grids, solar farms, predictive bullet train maintenance, zero-defect manufacturing, large-scale vertical farming, precision mining and smart public transport networks can all be fully unlocked using next-generation connectivity.
As we continue to appreciate the importance of networks as an enabling technology, the digitalization of societies will become more feasible in addition to being possible.
Connectivity is not a cure-all. When it comes to solving global challenges, the combined solutions mentioned at the start of this article are the most important piece of the puzzle. However, connectivity should be considered to be a vital part of those solutions.
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