Boxed hologram can transport you anywhere-IEEE Spectrum

2021-11-22 07:12:38 By : Ms. SWDK NB

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The new stereo display aims to change the way we interact

In a live demonstration of PORTL's interactive holographic communication technology, Marina Haba and her youngest son Tairi traveled from Los Angeles to Tokyo to meet her eldest son Issei.

The iconic Princess Leia hologram scene in the original Star Wars movie in 1978 greatly stimulated our technical demand for this future form of communication. In 2012, in the real world, Tupac Shakur's breakthrough telepresence resurrection at the Coachella Music Festival amazed the audience and made headlines. However, such events may require months of planning and hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment.

Recently, we have seen the emergence of videogrammetry (creating 3D models using videos taken from different angles), and Microsoft has provided its Microsoft Mesh virtual collaboration technology in a limited preview. But these systems require VR goggles and smart glasses, respectively, which limits their appeal.

Now, without glasses, two venture-backed companies are impressing audiences with seemingly similar technology. ARHT Media, headquartered in Toronto, Canada, and PORTL Inc., a start-up company in Los Angeles, have begun selling a portable plug-and-play cabinet-based holographic portal system the size of a phone booth. In both cases, one person in the studio-the presenter-can appear in full-scale, realistic 3D and interact with people anywhere in the world, with one or more booths connected to the Internet via the Internet The company's network.

I saw a live demonstration of PORTL technology this month. At that time, one of PORTL's technology investors, Marina Haba in Los Angeles, was sent to the PORTL booth in the Tokyo apartment to talk to her son there. She and the others who participated in the speech seemed extraordinarily real. When the two talked, it was as if Haba was standing on a booth. However, for us bystanders, the sound is very small, and the delay occasionally interrupts the otherwise smooth communication. Nevertheless, overall, the presentation is compelling and effective.

PORTL founder and CEO David Nussbaum said that the delay is currently less than 1 second and the goal is to reduce it to less than 100 milliseconds.

The PORTL Epic cabinet weighs about 180 kg, is 2.1 m high, 1.5 m wide, and 0.6 m deep. Plug and play and logging into PORTL to use Amazon Web Services' cloud-based network all require a standard power outlet and internet connection.

A two-way audio speaker microphone system is embedded in the bezels on both sides of the booth, while two cameras are embedded at the top: an Intel RealSense camera directly captures people in front of the cabinet for studio presenters to see, and the Logitech Brio 4K camera can go deep Know your surroundings.

On the side of the presenter, a simple studio (available as a PORTL kit) is required, equipped with a soft box mounted on a tripod to provide LED lighting, a feedback monitor for the people interacting with the presenter, and a monitor on the tripod. 4K camera, and boom or lavalier microphone. The Internet feed can be Wi-Fi, 5G or Ethernet. A stage is also needed for the host to shine, including seamless white paper with the sky curtain to create a white background, and place an acrylic board on the paper for the host to stand and walk around.

Nussbaum said PORTL can be used to showcase events such as virtual fashion shows, art and museum exhibitions, and to advertise products. Teachers can teach their skills as they did before students, and engineers can demonstrate prototypes by sending their own messages to colleagues who have access to the networked cabinet.

David Nussbaum, CEO of PORTL

So how does this volume display work? The company puts its card close to the vest, but this is what we know. First, the PORTL cabinet uses embedded LEDs above, below and on the sides to provide bright and uniform lighting, designed to capture and display shadows (from the walls) and reflections (from the floor). In addition, the company also adopted a custom-sized open LCD touch screen manufactured in accordance with PORTL specifications. The panel is located about 12 cm from the frame to create a window effect, and the internal depth of the booth itself is 43 cm. It is this combination of shadows, reflections, and carefully positioned panels that give the displayed content the appearance of volume and depth.

This happens because our two eyes see slightly different images, called binocular parallax, which is used by the brain to reconstruct a 2D scene into a scene with 3D depth. Similarly, PORTL uses shadows, reflections, and depth behind the LCD panel to create volumetric effects.

AHRT's HoloPod cabinet is also equipped with a camera and two-way communication. As for the technology, the video feed is projected onto a mesh of woven material coated with a proprietary reflective paint, and then the image is reflected back to the viewer. By carefully adjusting the lights on both sides of the speaker, the viewer's eyes combine the information, and the brain will produce a volumetric effect.

ARHT has established host studios in China, London, Toronto, New York and Los Angeles, and has established contacts with partners in other countries. It also provides an additional and larger HoloPresence display, which is more suitable for major events than the boxed effect provided by the cabinet.

But Nussbaum believes that the relative simplicity of PORTL technology makes it easier to scale down. "We hope to have a mini version ready for enterprises at the end of the year or the first quarter of next year. In the second or third quarter, we will launch a consumer device for desktops."

The price tag is a barrier to rapid acceptance. PORTL starts at $60,000, but it can also be rented "at a much lower cost." ARHT only lists subscription prices, starting at $15,000 and climbing to $40,000 per year, depending on the number of transfers. Even more attractive may be the upcoming mini PORTL. "We want to reduce their price to under $2,000," Nussbaum said.

Is IEEE Spectrum brain dead? This is scientifically misleading. It is commendable that the designers seem to have created an innovative pepper ghost synthesis using "holographic or micro-refractory" projection screens and perspective background projections, which may be a very effective illusion in human eyes. As a contemporary paid advertisement, this article is more suitable for Scientific American.

We have all been told that 5G wireless will provide amazing features and services. But it will not be cheap. All in all, in the next five years, the deployment of 5G will cost nearly US$1 trillion. This huge cost will be mainly borne by network operators, AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and other companies, as well as dozens of companies that provide cellular services to customers around the world. Faced with such a huge cost, these operators have asked a very reasonable question: How can we make it cheaper and more flexible?

Their answer is: you can mix and match network components from different companies to promote more competition and lower prices. At the same time, they have caused a split in the industry on how to build wireless networks. Their opponents—sometimes even reluctant partners—are the few telecom equipment vendors who can provide the hardware that network operators have been buying and deploying for years.

These vendors initially opposed the plan called Open RAN because they believed that if implemented, it would damage—if not disrupt—their existing business model. But in the face of the collective power of operators who demand new ways to establish wireless networks, these providers have few options, and none of them are very attractive. Some people responded by trying to set conditions for the way Open RAN was developed, while others continued to delay and risk being left behind.

It may take a decade or more for technologies that support a generation of wireless technologies such as 5G to go from the initial idea to the full realization of the hardware. In contrast, Open RAN appeared almost overnight. In less than three years, this idea has gone from a concept to multiple major deployments around the world. Its supporters believe that it will nurture huge innovations and reduce the cost of wireless access. Its critics say it threatens basic network security and may cause disaster. Either way, this is a watershed in the communications industry, and there is no turning back.

Rakuten Mobile's Open RAN network includes Nokia 4G radios running software from other vendors. The company has deployed one such RAN at its global headquarters in Tokyo. The Open RAN network also uses servers to power the cloud native network. Photo: Lotte

Broadly speaking, a radio access network (RAN) is a framework that connects terminal devices such as mobile phones with a larger wired core network. Cellular base stations or towers are the most common example of RAN. Other types of base stations, such as small base stations that send and receive signals over short distances in 5G networks, also meet the requirements.

To serve as this link, the RAN performs several steps. For example, when you use your mobile phone to call friends or family members in different cities, you need to be within the range of the mobile phone tower. So the first step is to let the antenna of the cell phone tower receive the cell phone signal. Second, the radio converts the signal from analog to digital. Third, a component called the baseband unit processes the signal, corrects the error, and finally transmits it to the core network. In the RAN, these components—antennas, radios, and baseband units—can and are often regarded as discrete technical blocks.

If you separate the radio and baseband unit from each other and develop and build them independently, you still need to make sure they work together. In other words, you need their interfaces to be compatible. Without this compatibility, when moving from radio equipment to baseband equipment, data may appear garbled or lost, and vice versa. In the worst case, radio and baseband units with incompatible interfaces will not work together at all. Functional RAN requires a common interface between these two components. However, surprisingly, there is currently no guarantee that a radio made by one supplier can interoperate with a baseband unit made by another supplier.

Like all standards for cellular networks, the specification of RAN interface standards is formulated by the third-generation partner program. Gino Masini, chairman of the 3GPP RAN3 working group, said that many 3GPP specifications, including those covering interfaces, are designed with interoperability in mind. However, Masini, who is also the lead researcher on standardization at Ericsson, added that nothing prevents vendors from "complementing" standardized interfaces with additional proprietary technology. Many vendors do this - and Masini says this does not limit vendor interoperability.

Others in the industry disagree. "Nokia and Ericsson are using 3GPP interfaces that should be standard," said Eugina Jordan, vice president of marketing at Parallel Wireless, a company that develops Open RAN technology in New Hampshire. But "these interfaces are not open, because each supplier will create its own flavor," she added. Most of these vendor-specific adjustments occur in the software and programming language used to connect the radio to the baseband unit. Jordan said that these adjustments are mainly in the form of supplier-defined radio parameters, which are intentionally left blank in the 3GPP standard for future development.

Ultimately, this will cause the hardware built by each vendor to be incompatible with hardware from other vendors, and it will not make operators comfortable. "We are seeing a widening gap in the 3GPP specifications," said Olivier Simon, director of radio innovation for French operator Orange. Open because they cannot achieve multi-vendor cooperation on both sides of the interface. "

The O-RAN Alliance of which Simon is a member of the Executive Committee is the largest industry organization engaged in the Open RAN specification. The group was established in 2018 when five operators including AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT Docomo and Orange joined to lead the development of more industries in Open RAN. Sachin Katti, associate professor at Stanford University and one of the co-chairs of the O-RAN Alliance Technical Steering Committee, said: "I think we need to create a unified global operator voice to promote this decomposition and openness."

The members of the O-RAN Alliance hope that Open RAN can fill the gap created by the 3GPP specifications. They quickly said that they were not going to replace the 3GPP specifications. Instead, they see Open RAN as a necessary tightening of the specification to prevent large vendors from applying their proprietary technology to the interface, thereby locking wireless operators in a single vendor network. By forcing open interfaces, the wireless industry can find a new approach to network design. If those open interfaces can promote more competition and lower prices, so much the better.

With the early deployment of 5G on a global scale, in 2019, the GSM Association, a wireless industry organization, predicts that operators will spend US$1.3 trillion on 5G infrastructure, equipment, and technology for their networks. RAN construction will consume most of these capital expenditures. Most of the expenditure will be spent on a few vendors who can still provide a complete end-to-end network.

"This has always been a pain point because RAN is the most expensive part of an operator's deployment," said Sridhar Rajagopal, vice president of technology and strategy at Mavenir, a Texas-based company that provides end-to-end network software. "It requires nearly 60% to 70% of the deployment cost." The GSM Association predicts that by 2025, operators will spend up to 86% of their capital budget on the RAN.

Cellular networks use wired or fiber optic backbone networks called core networks to send signals over long distances. The radio access network (RAN) acts as an intermediary, receiving wireless signals from mobile phones through antennas, converting the signals into numbers in the wireless unit, and performing tasks such as data processing and data processing, and connecting terminal devices such as mobile phones to the core network. Error correction in the baseband unit. In the current 5G system, the baseband unit splits these tasks between the distributed unit and the centralized unit. The open RAN concept hopes to build on this division to create a more flexible and thinner RAN.

Not surprisingly, with so much money, operators will do their best to avoid any fiasco caused by hardware incompatibility. The most reliable way to avoid this kind of disaster is to insist on using the same provider from one end of the network to the other, so as to avoid any possibility of mismatched interfaces.

Another factor that makes operators uneasy is that there are fewer and fewer companies that can provide cutting-edge end-to-end networks. Now there are only three: Ericsson, Nokia and Huawei. These three end-to-end providers can charge high prices because operators are basically locked in their systems.

Even with the arrival of a new generation of wireless technology, it will not create a clear opportunity for operators to switch suppliers. The new generation of wireless products maintain backward compatibility, so, for example, when a 5G mobile phone is not within the coverage of any 5G cell, it can run on a 4G network. Therefore, as operators build their 5G deployments, most of them insist on using a single vendor’s proprietary technology to ensure a smooth transition. The main alternative is to scrap everything and pay more for the new deployment from scratch.

The wireless industry has reached a broad consensus that Open RAN makes it possible to select different RAN components from different vendors. This opportunity, called decomposition, will also eliminate the pressure on whether components will cooperate when they are inserted. Whether decomposition is a good thing depends on who you ask.

The operator definitely likes it. Dish, a TV and wireless provider, is particularly active in adopting Open RAN. Siddhartha Chenumolu, vice president of technology development at Dish, described his first reaction to the technology: "Hey, there may be something here that we can completely break down," he said. "I don't have to rely only on Ericsson to provide radios, or only Nokia." Dish promised to use Open RAN to fully deploy 5G networks in the United States this year.

Proponents of Open RAN are exploring several possible "functional splits" to create new, interoperable interfaces in the RAN system, of which four possibilities have received the most attention. Each split allocates many tasks undertaken by the RAN to create a link between the core network and the terminal equipment based on different ways that different types of cellular networks may require. For example, Split 2 creates a highly intelligent radio unit that handles most of the data processing before signal transmission. On the other hand, Splits 7.2x and 8 create "dumb" radios that minimize data processing to reduce latency.

Smaller, more specialized vendors are also optimistic about the boost Open RAN can bring to their businesses. For Software Radio Systems, an advanced software-defined radio manufacturer, Open RAN makes it easier for them to focus on developing new software without worrying about losing potential customers because of integrating the technology into a wider network.

Not surprisingly, the remaining three hardware vendors hold different views. In February of this year, Franck Bouétard, CEO of Ericsson France, called Open RAN an "experimental technology" that is still several years away from maturity and cannot compete with Ericsson's products. (Ericsson declined to comment for this article).

However, some industry insiders believe that hardware manufacturers deliberately slow down the development of Open RAN. Paul Sutton, director of Software Radio Systems, said: "Some large vendors keep asking one question or another. Ericsson may be the most resistant to Open RAN because they may lose the most."

Not every major supplier is fighting back. For example, Nokia sees an opportunity. "I think we need to accept the fact that Open RAN will happen with or without us," said Thomas Barnett, Nokia's head of mobile network strategy and technology. Occupy a leading position to seize a better market share. "For example, the Japanese operator Rakuten is using Nokia's equipment for its Open RAN deployment. Nokia is also cooperating with Deutsche Telekom to deploy the Open RAN system in Neubrandenburg, Germany, later this year.

This is not to say that Nokia or other vendors are on the same page as operators and professional vendors such as software radio systems. At present, there are still many controversies. Ericsson and other vendors believe that creating more open interfaces will inevitably create more cyber attack points in the network. Operators and other Open RAN supporters counter that standardized interfaces will make it easier for the industry to identify and fix vulnerabilities. Everyone seems to be open enough to be open enough, or have different opinions on how much RAN hardware elements should be broken down.

In its most ambitious version, Open RAN splits the RAN into smaller components besides the radio and baseband unit. Proponents of this level of decomposition believe that by allowing the company to be hyper-specialized, it will bring more suppliers into the wireless industry. For example, an operator can sign a contract with a supplier to only prepare the processor for data received from the core network for wireless transmission. Many industry insiders also said that this specialization can accelerate technological innovation by replacing and deploying new RAN components without waiting for the entire radio or baseband unit to be upgraded. "This may be one of the brightest opportunities Open RAN can provide," said Tedlar Papport, the founding director of the New York University Wireless Technology Research Center.

The wireless industry’s first effort to disaggregate was inspired by the 5G specification itself. These specifications split the baseband unit into two smaller components, which are responsible for processing data transmission and data transmission with the core network. A component is a distributed unit, which assumes the responsibility of data processing. The other component is the central unit, which handles the connection to the core network. The advantage of splitting the baseband unit in this way is that the centralized unit no longer needs to be located in the cell tower itself. Instead, a centralized unit can be located in a local server farm, maintaining connections to the core network for multiple cell towers in the area.

The O-RAN Alliance is studying some different "function splits" in RAN to create more splitting opportunities beyond this split between distributed units and centralized units. Each of these additional splits creates a partition somewhere in many steps between the arrival of the signal from the core network and the transmission to the phone. It's a bit like a lunch break: you can have lunch early, thereby shifting many of your responsibilities to the afternoon, or work for a few hours and choose a later lunch.

An important split called Split 7.2x delegates the responsibilities of signal encoding and decoding and modulation to distributed units. On the other side of the split, the radio is responsible for some light processing tasks, such as beamforming, which determines the specific direction of transmission. The radio is also responsible for converting digital signals into analog signals and vice versa.

Another split, Split 8, even transfers the responsibility of beamforming to the distributed unit, letting the radio only convert the signal. In contrast, Split 2 will transfer encoding, decoding, modulation, beamforming and even more processing responsibilities to the radio, allowing the distributed unit to only compress the data to a smaller number of bits, and then transmit the data to the centralized式units.

The goal of creating open standards for multiple splits is that operators can purchase customized components for the specific types of networks they are building. For example, an operator may choose Split 8 for large-scale deployments that require a large number of radios. This split allows the radio to be as "clumsy" as possible and therefore as cheap as possible, because all processing takes place in the central unit.

Technically speaking, it is possible to combine decomposed RANs with open interfaces using only hardware, but there are some advantages to defining components in software. "Our industry has become very, very hardware-centric," said Chih-Lin I, who served as co-chair of the O-RAN Alliance Technical Steering Committee with Katti of Stanford University. "Every generation of our network basically relies on the close integration of special-purpose hardware and software. Therefore, every time we need to upgrade, a new version or a new partial version, it will take several years."

In order to get rid of the hardware-centric attitude, the O-RAN Alliance also encourages the wireless industry to integrate more software into the RAN. Software-defined networks use programmable software equivalents to replace traditional hardware components and are more flexible. Upgrading virtual components is as simple as pushing new code to the base station.

The emphasis on software also makes it possible for the industry to consider new technologies, the most important of which is the RAN intelligent controller. RIC collects data from the RAN components of dozens or hundreds of base stations at a time, and uses machine learning technology to reconfigure network operations in real time. It is modified based on whether a particular cell tower is under heavy traffic load, for example, or transmission during heavy rain that may weaken the signal. RIC can reprogram the software components of RAN to provide better services. Dish’s Chenumolu said: “Imagine I can really adjust my network based on user experience and user’s real-time feelings. How great is this?”

Since its establishment in 2018, the O-RAN Alliance has surged from its five founding members (all operators) to more than 260 members. Among the three major suppliers, only Huawei is not a member because it believes that the performance of the Open RAN system is not as good as the company's proprietary system. Other Open RAN teams are also growing at a similar rate. For example, the Open RAN Policy Alliance was established in May 2020, and more than 60 members are committed to coordinating global policies regarding the development and deployment of Open RAN.

Rakuten engineers can install a 4G base station for its Open RAN deployment in just 8 minutes.

In recent months, Japanese e-commerce giants Rakuten Mobile and Dish have pledged to use Open RAN for a wide range of new 5G deployments. After the British government authorized the stripping of all Huawei components from the wireless network, UK-based Vodafone is replacing these components in its network with Open RAN equivalents. Due to similar tasks, local operators in the United States, such as Inland Cellular in Idaho, are doing the same thing.

These deployments do not always go according to plan. Rakuten especially faces some initial setbacks when the performance of its Open RAN network does not match the performance of traditional end-to-end systems. However, operators remain optimistic and have not given up. Many people in the industry don't care about this type of problem. They think that the only way to truly eliminate technical flaws is to deploy it on a large scale and see what works and what needs improvement.

There are still lingering questions about the dollar's stop loss position. When an operator purchases an end-to-end system from Nokia, Ericsson, or Huawei, it also knows that it can rely on that supplier to support the network in the event of a problem. This is not the case for open RAN deployments. In this case, no single vendor may claim responsibility for interoperability issues. Larger operators may be able to support their own Open RAN networks, but smaller operators may rely on companies like Mavenir, which position themselves as system integrators. However, critics believe that this approach is just to create another end-to-end provider for operators who do not have the expertise or resources to support their own networks, and adds additional costs.

Eventually, when the next generation of wireless technology needs to be implemented, the real test of Open RAN may come. Rajat Prakash, chief engineer of Qualcomm Wireless R&D, said: "I think 6G will be built with Open RAN as a prerequisite.

It remains to be seen how far this movement will go in terms of decomposing RAN, opening up new interfaces, and even introducing new technologies into hybrids. The important thing is that the movement has gained tremendous momentum. Although some corners of the industry still have reservations, operators and small-scale suppliers have put too much weight behind the idea that this movement has failed. Open RAN will continue to exist. As it matures, the wireless industry will open the door to a new way of operating.

This article appeared in the print edition of May 2021 as "5G First Mile Conflict".