5G a Hot Topic at Hong Kong Electronics Fair
A lively discussion about prospects for 5G adoption in Hong Kong, where the technology is as trending a buzzword as anywhere else in the world – took place at the HKTDC-organized Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Autumn Edition) Oct. 14.
The consensus at a symposium entitled, “Intelligent Connectivity: 5G and Beyond,” was that a fifth generation of high-speed mobile data is set to disrupt industries across the board – a technological revolution that will change the way we think and act in our everyday lives. Industry experts gathered there discussed the boundless opportunities presented by 5G commercialization.
Peter Lemmens, Director of imec Innovation Services, provided a compelling example of how 5G was used to help an entire region of Belgium with nearly 6.5 million inhabitants revolutionize their water system. “[Our] solution in Belgium was a massive deployment of very tiny sensors that can measure pH and chlorides in water, that you connect to an app on a mobile phone to monitor water quality in real time,” said Lemmens, explaining that the large-scale wireless sensor network pushed by 5G now maps water reserves covering 13,522 square kilometers across the whole of Belgium.
He said the design and development of innovative sensor systems has garnered lots of attention in the scientific community because of the scope and speed capabilities enabled by 5G, and he believes it will inspire more Internet of Things (IoT) applications and enable innovative product development with a realistic time-to-market.
Safer Drivers, Safer Roads
Another much lauded use of 5G is its application in smarter transport systems and for autonomous driving, providing the extremely high processing speed that can match that of a human operator, as well as the low latency and connectivity that can enable a new generation of applications not seen before.
Ho Kai-leung, Strategic Wireless Technology and Project Officer at Hong Kong Telecommunications (HKT), said although he did not expect self-driving cars to hit Hong Kong’s roads for at least another five years, they are unlocking the potential of 5G by developing intelligent transport systems that can keep drivers alert to enable a safer driving experience. Ho added that this is good news for local Hong Kong industry, as the Hong Kong Science and Technology Research Institute received approval earlier this year to hold autonomous driving vehicle trials for 5G research purposes – making it a more tangible possibility than ever before.
What will 6G Bring?
In 2019, the 5G rollout is happening in several leading markets, and the global momentum is beginning to build. Michael Chang, CTO, Customers Operations, Greater China at Nokia Networks, said he expected that more overwhelming capabilities will exist over the horizon, and explored possibilities of what a 6G network might look like.
“We’ve digitized the physical world; we connect machine things together,” he said. “But there’s one element we have not digitized: it’s the biological world. How about our feelings, our emotions? Our emotions can be digitized and uploaded to the cloud.”
Chang described the development of “wetware systems,” a term used to describe systems where human brain cells or thought processes are analogous to computer systems. Giving credence to the idea that this could be the next wave of game-changing innovation,
Chang cited the example of technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, whose company Neuralink has been quietly working on a brain-machine interface with the ultimate goal of implanting devices in paralyzed humans to enable them to control phones or computers.