6G's Haptic, Holographic Future?
Imagine a teleconference but with holograms instead of a checkerboard of faces. Or envision websites and media outlets across the Internet that allow you to make haptic connections (i.e. those involving touch as well as sight and sound). Researchers studying the future of sixth-generation (6G) wireless communications are now sketching out possibilities—though not certainties—for the kinds of technologies a 6G future could entail.
Sixth-generation wireless technology—says Harsh Tataria, a communications engineering lecturer at Lund University, Sweden—will be characterized by low latencies and ultrahigh frequencies, with data transfer speeds potentially hitting 100 Gbps. Their study began by considering the challenges and technical requirements of next-generation networks—and forecasting some of the technological possibilities that could be practically realizable within that context.
Such future-casting is to be expected as 5G deployment picks up speed around the world, at which point subsequent generations of wireless technologies come more into focus. Tataria calls this “a natural progression,” to look at the emerging trends in both technology and consumer demands. “When we look at 6G, we’re really look[ing] at vastly connected societies,” he says, “even a step beyond what 5G is capable of doing, such as real-time holographic communications.”
“Using holograms as the medium of communication, emotion-sensing wearable devices capable of monitoring our mental health… will become the building blocks of networks of the future”.
The study outlines what it calls a “high-fidelity holographic society,” one in which “Holographic presence will enable remote users [to be represented] as a rendered local presence. For instance, technicians performing remote troubleshooting and repairs, doctors performing remote surgeries, and improved remote education in classrooms could benefit from hologram renderings.” The authors note that 4G and expected 5G data rates may not enable such technologies—but that 6G might—owing to the fact that “holographic images will need transmission from multiple viewpoints to account for variation in tilts, angles, and observer positions relative to the hologram.” As the authors point out, this study is not a comprehensive or definitive account of 6G’s capabilities and limitations—but rather a documentation of the research conducted to date and the interesting directions for 6G technologies that future researchers could pursue.