5G networks: futuristic communications for users of the present

27 October 2014

Devices that learn from our habits and help us to “think better”, connect us to a friend just by thinking about them, or ensure continuing medical monitoring, will be a reality in 2020, thanks to the 5G technology presented today at the Spanish Royal Academy of Engineering.

 “With 5G networks, the society we live in will become fully connected, not only with other people but with the objects around us, and those objects among themselves: this is truly a technological and social revolution”, summed up for EfeFuturo Professor Arturo Azcorra, Telefónica-UC3M endowed chair holder and Director at IMDEA Networks.

These systems with “almost infinite capacity and coverage”, that will be a thousand times more competent than mobile networks today, “will render time and distance inconsequential”, the Professor assures us.

When we achieve a flow of information that exceeds what one person needs or can process on a device, we consider this as immediate response for the user”, we are told by this expert on devices processing 5 GB per second.

Material support for this technology ranges from the “conventional” Google Glasses, some of whose features are yet to be developed, to “chips embedded in the user or headsets whose interface interacts directly with the brain”; therefore, “this will not be a display showing information superposed images, but that reconstructs the image itself” highlighting, for example, those items that most interest us.

This communications system will be similar to sense translators for the disabled which by means of sensors can transform, for example, an image into electrical impulses that can be picked up by the visually impaired.

Users will surpass so-called “augmented reality”, going a step further: “it will no longer be necessary to select ‘contacts’ on your mobile, it will be inside you and you’ll call up a friend by just wishing it; you will not need an appointment to see the doctor, your condition will always be known by your GP thanks to sensors monitoring your health”, says the expert as an example, “you’ll be a permanently logged on browser”.

5G networks will also have the capacity to “learn from our preferences and habits to help us think better, all in a most natural way”, Azcorra assures us, although he is aware of the implications “at very many levels” that this innovation will have: from limited access to medical records, to child protection or the need to draft new laws, among others.

People are afraid of any powerful technology, but these systems are designed to contain their problems”, the professor adds, declaring he is convinced that this technology will be used by “millions and millions of people” –some 7000 million terminals–, which, by and large, will contribute to lowering costs.

Considering that between 5 and 7% of total world expenditure on energy is on current mobile technologies, “it is clear that 5G cannot be considered as a luxury, it will be available to everyone worldwide and, whether we like it or not, we will all be connected”, he predicts.

Mankind has shown that in 99% of cases it uses technology for its own good”, concludes Professor Azcorra, dismissing the remaining 1% risk. EFEfuturo


Photo Caption: A model displays a smartcard chip in Kuala Lumpur. EFE/Ahmad Yusni

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