Saturday, 9 May 2015

Healthcare and 5G

Imagine the world in 2020, only five years from now. If predictions hold true, more than 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet (creating the Internet of Things), through smart homes, smart cities, smart factories, smart everything. Two recent Cisco studies show there’s $19 trillion in IoT value is at stake in the private ($14.4 trillion) and public ($4.6 trillion) sectors. The studies see, for example, $2.5 trillion in value from better use of assets, improving execution and capital efficiency, and reducing expenses and cost of goods sold.

In 2020, cars could be driving themselves and people could be monitoring their health through a variety of smartwatches and other wearables. And, of course, smartphones will continue to proliferate. 5G could also become a reality as early as 2020 (some estimate it will be later, perhaps 2025). Carriers’ base stations can handle hundreds of simultaneous users now, but that’s not enough to accommodate the billions of new devices that will hook into the Internet of Things. Some estimate that equipment makers will need to increase base station connectivity capacity by a factor of 1,000. RF and microwave electronics are also becoming more valuable. Consider RF chips in smartphones. Instead of 30-40 cents for RF chips in a 2G phone, chipmakers will see $2 to $3 in a lower-end 3G smartphone. It then rises to $4 to $6 for a mid-tier LTE smartphone and $10-plus for high-end global LTE smartphones. No estimate yet on 5G smartphones, but it’s sure to be more. These trends are good news for everyone involved in technologies associated with RF, microwave, millimeter wave, and THz frequencies, many of whom will be attending “Microwave Week” in Phoenix, May 17-22.

Besides the flagship IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium (IMS), Microwave Week also hosts the IEEE RFIC and ARFTG conferences. Microwave Week 2015 will start with RFIC Symposium, and followed by IMS Symposium, Microwave Historical Exhibit and ARFTG Microwave Measurement Conference. The RFIC Symposium kicks off Sunday evening with the awards ceremony followed by two plenary speakers: Dr. Peter H. Siegel from Jet Propulsion Laboratories will talk on “From THz Imaging to Millimeter-Wave Stimulation of Neurons: Is there a Killer Application for High Frequency RF in the Medical Community?” He’ll be followed by a talk by Dr. Hermann Eul of Intel titled “RF as the Differentiator.” On Monday at the IMS Symposium, University of Illinois’ Swanlund Chair Professor John Rogers will deliver the plenary session address. This kicks off a week of more than 160 technical sessions that indicate industry growth at the intersection of RF and microwave technologies with health. Dr. Rogers’ opening keynote, “Soft Assemblies of Radios, Sensors and Circuits for the Skin,” will focus on the experimental and theoretical approaches for using soft materials, ultrathin micro/nanostructures and controlled processes of mechanical buckling to achieve ultralow modulus systems of semiconductor devices. The resulting skin-like technology has the potential to provide clinical-quality health monitoring capabilities for use outside of traditional hospital settings and laboratory facilities. “Rogers sets the precedent for bridging the gap between research and real-world application,” said Vijay Nair, IMS symposium general chair. “His expertise allows him to provide deep insight into how technological innovation can result in significant opportunities for the microwave industry and for society as a whole.” Closing IMS2015 on Thursday, May 21 is Agilent Technologies’ Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President Dr. Darlene Solomon, who will present her vision for how breakthroughs in cellular biology will enable advances in biology-based engineering in her talk, “The Century of Biology is Great for Engineering.” “Solomon’s holistic approach to the application of technology to address societal issues offers a unique perspective to illustrate the great opportunities ahead for RF and microwave engineers,” said Nair. The focus of the ARFTG 85th Microwave Measurement Conference; Automatic RF Techniques Group (ARFTG) on May 22nd, will be “Measurements and Techniques for 5G Applications.”