Addressing these physical and technical limitations will require leaps and bounds of innovation, but the promise of applications powered by advanced 6G connectivity is driving innovative solutions.
Adaptive technology solutions is a major area of research. For example, instead of focusing on optimizing bandwidth for one device, a 6G network will use neighboring devices to help provide the necessary bandwidth and reduce latency. This 3D signal shaping focuses on combining and processing wireless signals from multiple sources, based on how close they are to the end user.
The new semiconductor material will help manage device space requirements as well as handle wider frequency ranges. Although it requires complex engineering, one promising approach combines traditional silicon circuits with those made from more exotic compound semiconductors, such as indium phosphide. Additionally, the researchers are looking at ways of changing the environment with reconfigurable smart surfaces (“smart surfaces”) that can optimize signal transmission to modify signals in real-time to provide better bandwidth and lower latency.
Another research direction relies on artificial intelligence to manage networks and optimize communications. Different network usage patterns (for example, messaging, gaming, and streaming) create different types of network needs. AI solutions allow a system to predict this demand based on behavioral patterns, rather than requiring engineers to always design for the highest levels of demand.
Nichols sees huge potential for networks from improvements in artificial intelligence. “Today’s systems are so complex, with so many leverages to address diverse needs,” that most optimization decisions are limited to first-level tweaks, says Nichols. like more websites, updated radios, better backhaul, more efficient data portals and throttling for certain users. In contrast, the use of artificial intelligence to handle optimization, he said, offers “an important opportunity to move towards self-governing, self-optimizing and self-organizing networks”.
Virtual simulation and digital-twin technology are promising tools that will not only support 6G innovation, but will be further enabled by 6G once it is established. These emerging technologies can help companies test their products and systems in a sandbox that simulates real-world conditions, allowing device manufacturers and application developers to test concepts in complex environments and create early product prototypes for 6G networks.
While engineers and researchers have suggested innovative solutions, Nichols noted that building a 6G network will also require consensus among technology providers, operators, and service providers. service. As the rollout of 5G networks continues, industry players should create a cohesive vision of what applications the next-generation network will support and how their technologies will work together.
However, it is this collaboration and complexity that can produce the most interesting and lasting results. Nichols noted that the breadth of engineering disciplines needed to build 6G, and the industry collaboration needed to launch it, will drive exciting innovation across industries. Due to the need for new solutions, the path to 6G will be opened up, in the words of Nichols, with “a huge amount of research, development and technical innovation from electronics to semiconductors to antennas. , wireless network systems, internet protocols to artificial intelligence for network security. “
This content is produced by Insights, the custom content arm of MIT Technology Review. It was not written by the editorial board of the MIT Technology Review.