Nokia at Mobile World Congress–5G Positioning and Industrial Edge

I wish I were in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress, but at least the sun is shining in northern Illinois as I accumulate news from the event. And the word of the day is 5G. This post focuses on Nokia and how it has moved on from the mobile handset business.

Two things: first of two moves by Dell Technologies this time with Nokia plus 5G positioning (as in manufacturing a piece) technology with Bosch. Check out the “hardware-as-a-service” model and high end compute. I spent some time working with a team at Dell several years ago as they searched for a manufacturing use case. Looks like they’re playing with a new one. 

Nokia bolsters MX Industrial Edge Capabilities

  • Nokia MXIE to leverage high-performance Dell PowerEdge server family to support the increasing processing needs of Industry 4.0 use cases
  • Nokia introduces MXIE GPU support for advanced real-time video analytics applications and to unlock future business-critical AI and machine learning OT use cases
  • Nokia to offer MXIE in a Hardware-as-a-Service model, reducing CAPEX requirements to allow more enterprises to digitalize operations leveraging OT data

Nokia announced it is working with other industry-leading technology providers as it boosts the capabilities of the off-the-shelf, Mission-Critical Industrial Edge (MXIE) to manage the growing digitalization demands of industries. Nokia will also make it possible for many more enterprises to realize the value of operational technology (OT) data with the introduction of MXIE in a Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) model.

As enterprises implement a growing number of Industry 4.0 use cases, such as autonomous robots in a factory or warehouse leveraging real-time situational awareness for safety, or zero-fault manufacturing using advanced real-time video analytics for efficiency, demand is growing for high-capacity, on-premise edge processing. To support this, Nokia is introducing a new high-performance, high-capacity infrastructure platform from Dell Technologies, beginning with the Dell PowerEdge XR11 server to further increase the processing power of the MXIE to handle the most demanding and complex workloads.

The new Dell PowerEdge XR11 server-based MXIE featuring 3rd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processor introduces physical graphics processing unit (GPU) support. The high-performance NVIDIA A2 Tensor Core GPU enables versatile *AI inference acceleration.

This, for example, will unlock business-critical use cases that rely on real-time monitoring of video feeds and alerts using applications such as Nokia Scene Analytics or Atos Computer Vision Platform, which uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) for quality assurance and video analytics solutions for mission-critical applications.

By offering MXIE in a HaaS model, Nokia will enable more enterprises to begin their digitalization journey. This will reduce up-front capital investment, and allow them to benefit from MXIE capabilities on a subscription basis.

Nokia and Bosch Set a New Bar for 5G Positioning and Look Ahead to 6G

  • Proof-of-concept network in Germany demonstrated accuracy within 50 cm
  • Nokia and Bosch are continuing their joint research in 6G, exploring the integration of sensing technologies in future 6G systems

Nokia and Bosch announced that they have jointly developed 5G-based precision positioning technology intended for new Industry 4.0 use cases. The two have deployed the proof of concept in a Bosch production plant in Germany, where extensive tests under realistic manufacturing conditions have shown an accuracy within 50 cm in 90 percent of the factory footprint.

The positioning technology tracks mobile and portable devices connected to the 5G network, accurately determining their positions where no global navigation satellite service coverage is available, for instance in factories, warehouses or underground facilities. As part of the factory test, an enhanced private 5G network was able to determine the precise position of assets such as automated guided vehicles (AGVs), mobile robots and mobile control panels – tracking their movements throughout the plant in real time.

Traditionally, 5G positioning works by measuring the time it takes for mobile signals to travel from a mobile device to different base stations and anchor nodes in the network. As signals take longer to reach nodes that are further away, the positioning system can triangulate its source. Nokia and Bosch have built upon that foundation by equipping 5G nodes with multiple receive antennas, which enable the network to detect the incoming angles of signals. Advanced Nokia Bell Labs algorithms interpret this time-delay and angle-of-arrival information to determine the most probable position of the mobile device. Their proof-of-concept achieves a level of accuracy well beyond the current cellular position state-of-the-art, providing a sneak peek at what 5G networks, both public and private, will be capable of in the future.

Precision localization is important for many applications in industrial environments, such as robot navigation, asset tracking and worker safety. Realizing both high-performance connectivity and high-accuracy positioning within a single private network’s infrastructure also has many operational benefits, such as reducing the complexity of IT infrastructure, leading to a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and higher returns on investments.

WePower Launches and Demos Gemns Energy Harvesting Generators

No sooner had interest in wireless sensors developed batteries were identified as a weak point. Sending maintenance crews out routinely to replace batteries became a sticking point. For every difficulty lies an opportunity. Technologies to harvest energy from equipment vibrations and other sources went into development.

Here we are many years later and a notice of more kinetic energy harvesting came my way thanks to an exhibit at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in January.

WePower Technologies introduced Gemns Energy Harvesting Generator (EHG) product line. The Gemns product line includes three distinct products, each of which use both permanent and oscillating magnets to harvest kinetic energy through electromagnetic induction: the Gemns G100 Integrated RF Switch, the Gemns G200 EHG, and the Gemns G300 EHG.

The kinetic energy transient provided by each of these Gemns products can be used to trigger a sensor, perform a reading, form a data packet, and transmit a radio signal with the range and reliability necessary to advance the RF communication needs of the IoT industry.

The three products are:

  • Gemns G100 Integrated RF Switch – A wireless industrial push button, the G100 has been tested to over 1 million activations and has served as the initial proof of concept for the growing Gemns product lineup. The G100 includes space for Gemns’ energy harvesting circuit and another PCB that would typically be the transmitter. Anticipated applications beyond industrial will include automotive, smart home and city, and aerospace.
  • Gemns G200 EHG – The workhorse of the Gemns lineup, this is our most powerful EHG. Initially designed for industrial IoT applications in safety and limit switches, the expected applications where the G200 will excel include automotive, home/office IoT, and other higher energy applications.
  • Gemns G300 EHG – A high-output device that requires less force to activate, making it useful for consumer products in lighting and smart home devices, as well as in future IoT products where new activation methods will be explored.

Private 5G Network Ushers in New Era of Warehouse Automation

Consumer 5G networks may not be stunning for your iPhone right now, but there is some uptake in the private 5G network world. Some analysts are still bullish on the technology. It may not be for everyone. There are applications where things seem to be going well. Here is a report of one.

  • Betacom announced Teltech Group is deploying Betacom 5G as a Service to automate its 200,000 square-foot warehouse in the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area. 
  • The warehouse will also become a showcase for warehouse automation and Industry 4.0 IoT capabilities, with recent advances in warehouse automation including robots, drones and automated forklifts enabled by private 4G/5G.
  • Founded in 1999, Native American and woman-owned Teltech provides a wide array of services, ranging from warehousing and third party logistics solutions (3PL) to solar power system development, talent resourcing and, recently, tethered drones that provide broadband in hard-to-reach places. 

Return of the Large Trade Show

IMTS / Hannover Messe invaded Chicago this week. I drove down a couple of days. It was huge. Booths populated all four halls. I did not see everything. Or even half.

Hannover Messe (in Chicago) has co-located for the past three or four events. As in the past, the automation / Hannover Messe part encompassed a few aisles in the East hall.

I’ll have more news items in the next post.

Best of what I saw:

Nokia. What?! I was approached for an appointment. I said yes figuring on a 5G private network discussion. I was partly right.

Let me back up for context.

  • Enterprises crave data to feed their information systems.
  • Data from industrial / manufacturing operations were bottled in isolated, siloed systems
  • Networking became robust
  • Interoperable protocols grew
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) became a thing
  • Suddenly data could go where and when needed

Solutions.

  • Automation vendors claimed connectivity to enterprise but that fell short
  • IT suppliers, supporters of the enterprise, tried to enter the market with gateways, networking, partnerships and ecosystems to get the data.
  • They couldn’t find the formula to sell to manufacturing (known as OT)
  • We have gateways, databases, networking, but still no enterprise solution

Nokia.

  • Builds off networking technology which has progressed to 5G Private Networks
  • Has added edge compute devices
  • Partnership with PTC (Kepware / Thingworx) for software connectivity
  • Attacking this open market from a new perspective–both the enterprise IT side and the operations OT side

I am not predicting success. I never do. What I love about trade shows is finding this nugget of original thinking cloaked in the mundane. They have the foundation. Can they sell?

Check out this page on the Nokia site.

5G Marketing Failures

5G has potential for industrial and manufacturing applications, but when have we heard that much about it? Analyst firm Global Data’s recent study says mobile operators are failing to come up with a strong marketing story.

The study by GlobalData Technology, which involved a July 2022 audit of around 30  standalone 5G  commercial deployments worldwide, concluded that although operators are keen to flag the adoption of standalone 5G in general marketing messages—largely focusing on the improved network quality and capabilities for enterprises—the number of standalone 5G references within consumer 5G service portfolios are few and far between.

Emma Mohr-McClune, Service Director at GlobalData, comments: “The lack of effective standalone 5G promotion is a real problem for the future of 5G monetization. Standalone 5G will be a vital requirement for a lot of the more exciting 5G use cases, from autonomous devices to commercial augmented and virtual reality.”

Mohr-McClune continues: “The few exceptional cases—in Singapore, but also in Germany and elsewhere—make for fascinating study. In the future, we could see more operators position standalone 5G as greener, safer, and more reliable than future generations of wireless technology, but the current industry is still waiting for signature use cases to give the upgrade meaning to consumers. In the meantime, we believe that most operators will focus on marketing the technology to the business sector, where there are more immediate and distinctive use cases emerging.

“In the Enterprise sector, it’s an entirely different story. Standalone 5G enables enterprises to set up their own, closed Private 5G networks, to better manage connectivity in ultra-connected working set-ups, such as ports and mines–or even ‘slice’ the network for prioritized levels of service for mission-critical operations. The benefits, use cases, and return on investment (ROI) are far clearer. However, in selling standalone 5G to consumers, operators are going to have to make sure they don’t repeat the same promises they spun out for non-standalone 5G, or risk appearing to contradict themselves.”

Qualcomm Unleashes A Raft of New Products for WiFi and Autonomous Robots

Qualcomm has been quite busy releasing new products and devoting time to conversations. Networking advances are intriguing. Qualcomm has news beyond WiFi 6 that others are touting with news of a WiFi 7 platform. Other news includes an AR chip set and technology for mobile robotics.

Let’s take a tour through Qualcomm news:

Qualcomm Debuts Wi-Fi 7 Networking Pro Series, a Scalable Commercial Wi-Fi 7 Platform

Highlights:

  • Qualcomm Technologies is currently sampling the world’s most scalable Wi-Fi 7 networking platform portfolio commercially available, with offerings ranging from 6 to 16 streams, for next-generation enterprise access points, high performance routers, and carrier gateways
  • Third-generation Qualcomm Networking Pro Series platforms bring key Wi-Fi 7 features like 320MHz channel support establishing new performance benchmarks in wireless networking of up to 33 Gbps wireless interface capacity and peak throughputs over 10 Gbps.
  • These Qualcomm Networking Pro Series platforms continue the legacy of innovative, custom architectural design optimized for multi-user environments, to power the collaboration, telepresence, XR, metaverse, and immersive gaming applications of today and tomorrow’s home and enterprise environments.
  • Qualcomm Networking Pro Series platforms are supported by Qualcomm Technologies’ turnkey service for Automated Frequency Control (AFC) to enable the highest performance possible in the 6GHz spectrum band.

Qualcomm Technologies announced its Wi-Fi 7 capable Qualcomm Networking Pro Series Gen 3 family of platforms. Now sampling and available to global development partners, the Qualcomm Networking Pro Series, Gen3 is the world’s highest performance Wi-Fi 7 network infrastructure platform portfolio commercially available. Building upon the multi-generation legacy of the Qualcomm Networking Pro Series platforms, the products combine Wi-Fi 7 features with Qualcomm Technologies’ intelligent multi-channel management technologies to improve speeds, lower latency, and enhance network utilization for users of Wi-Fi 6/6E devices while offering game-changing throughput and incredibly low latency for the next generation of Wi-Fi 7 client devices.

This third generation of the Qualcomm Networking Pro Series sets new industry benchmarks for networking platform performance. The family enables systems with peak aggregate wireless capacity of 33 Gbps and point-to-point connections exceeding 10 Gbps. With advanced features for interference detection and multilink operation, the Wi-Fi 7 Network Pro Series enables deterministic low latency across challenging shared wireless environments, enabling application performance rivaling private spectrum. The products can support high speed low latency wireless backhaul for home mesh Wi-Fi and enterprise infrastructure with reliable performance even in the presence of neighboring interference. When combined with high performance internet access such as 5G fixed-wireless access or 10G PON fiber, customers can experience immersive connected experiences including high resolution videoconferencing, AR/VR, and high-performance cloud gaming.  

Wireless AR Smart Viewer Reference Design Powered by the Snapdragon XR2 Platform

The Wireless AR Smart Viewer eliminates the cord between an AR glass and a compatible smartphone, Windows PC, or processing puck and still achieves virtually lag-free AR experiences using a fully integrated Qualcomm FastConnect 6900 System combined with the new FastConnect XR Software Suite.

The reference design, which is being sampled to select OEMs, boasts a 40% thinner profile and a more balanced weight distribution2 .

Qualcomm Technologies announced another milestone in making extended reality (XR) the next computing platform with the Wireless AR Smart Viewer Reference Design, powered by the Snapdragon® XR2 Platform. The cord-free reference design helps OEMs and ODMs more seamlessly and cost-efficiently prototype and bring to market lightweight, premium AR glasses to enable immersive experiences that unlock the metaverse. 

Greater Performance, Sleeker Device: The purpose-built, premium Snapdragon XR2 Platform now packs powerful performance into a slim, smaller AR glass form factor. The AR reference design hardware, developed by Goertek, has a 40% thinner profile and a more ergonomically balanced weight distribution3 for increased comfort. SeeYA provides the dual micro-OLED binocular display enabling 1920 x 1080 per eye and frame rates up to 90Hz and a no-motion-blur feature to deliver a seamless AR experience. Dual monochrome cameras and one RGB camera on the smart viewer enable six-degrees of freedom (6DoF) head tracking and hand tracking with gesture recognition to achieve AR precision.

Qualcomm Advances Development of Smarter and Safer Autonomous Robots

Highlights:

• As 5G advances beyond the smartphone, 5G and premium AI-enabled robotics, drones and intelligent machine solutions will empower more productive, intelligent, and advanced robots, unlocking new possibilities with critical intelligence and maximum efficiency.

• Qualcomm Robotics RB6 Platform and the Qualcomm RB5 AMR Reference Design – bring enhanced AI and 5G together to power next-generation robotics, drones and intelligent machines including autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), delivery robots, highly automated manufacturing robots, urban air mobility (UAM) aircrafts, autonomous defense solutions, and beyond.

• Latest solutions unleash innovative possibilities for industries looking to adopt robots and realize the benefits of the solutions at the connected intelligent edge.

The Qualcomm Robotics RB6 Platform and the Qualcomm RB5 AMR Reference Design will support evolving applications for OEMs and robot manufacturers looking to integrate ground robots in industrial use cases across sectors including government service applications, logistics, healthcare, retail, warehousing, agriculture, construction, utilities, and more. The new solutions will accelerate the digital transformation of industries and serve as a key enabler for Industry 4.0.

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