First, I want to thank the Qualcomm Ventures team for inviting me to be a part of this amazing group of entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and innovators. The Edge AI Summit was among the best I have attended, and the hospitality of Qualcomm Ventures and the content were excellent and above board. The summit kicked off with a nice outside lunch in beautiful San Carlos, CA at The Alexandria and ended with an amazing dinner and drinks accompanied by a string assemble with beautiful, relaxing music. Now let’s jump into the summit highlights.
Quinn Li, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Qualcomm Ventures, kicked off the event with a nice welcome message and set the stage for the overall theme, “Edge AI.” Bringing real-time data intelligence and insights for real-world industry solutions is vital, and artificial intelligence, learning models, algorithms, infrastructure, and security go hand-in-hand with the advancements and innovation. A range of early-stage and emerging companies that are partners and participants with Qualcomm Ventures are taking AI to the next level to apply to the enterprise and support adoption. Whether on-premise, on device, or at the point of data collection, AI is coming fast and Qualcomm Ventures will be leading and investing in the most innovative solutions in edge AI.
One of the top highlights, was the fireside chat with Durga Malladi (SVP & GM, Technology Planning & Edge Solutions, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.) and Jim McGregor (Tirias Research), “Enabling On-Device AI.” The discussion focused on Qualcomm’s overall vision in AI. AI has been around since the 1950s and this past 18 months has shown good potential around generative AI in the most simplistic form. AI is primarily about intelligently connecting everything with the emerging use cases evolving around running generative AI on the device. Some of the use cases include voice and speech interaction, smartphones/laptops XR, advancements in consumer devices, and digital experiences in automotive.
The convergence of communication and processing, while extracting meaning from it, gives rise to today’s AI and edge AI is an important component. AI and the processing of information is expected to run at an increasing rate purely on the device and not connected to the cloud. Inference training is happening at edge of the network, with action shifting from the cloud to a distributed manner or using a distributed architecture. With advancements in technology, large learning models are happening on the device and low power, efficient processing is supporting this trend. Qualcomm shares, “There is already a growing wave of sub-10 billion parameter large language models (LLMs), automatic speech recognition (ASR) models, programming models and language vision models (LVMs) that provide useful outputs covering a broad set of use cases.” As we move towards 5 to 10 billion parameter models on a device, the industry is building use cases with large language models (and other models) running on the device itself. The week of October 23rd was also the Snapdragon Summit, where Durga shared a couple of AI insights and “The Art of the Possible.”
In addition to the increase in billions of parameters, Qualcomm also shared a range of companies (and their apps) and developer relationships to get us there including Google, LLaMA, and Hugging Face making sure all can run on Qualcomm devices. In addition, Qualcomm is focused on solutions to curate the model to make sure it runs efficiently on the device with proper compression, and not losing the sense of the model to retain accuracy. More developer tools will be made available to make sure the industry can ingest any model while also paying attention to the KPIs. Other key highlights include:
A More "Humane" AI was presented by Bethany Bongiorno, Co-founder and CEO of Humane and Imran Chaudhri, Co-founder and President of Humane. The leadership team formerly worked at Apple and decided to branch out and started their push into AI in 2019. Humane has 250+ employees working in San Francisco, New York, and in remote locations. Bethany and Imran presented on personal mobile computing and how it is driven by AI. They stated the slowdown in smartphone sales, and the OEMs are now looking for new areas of growth. They believe the future is NOT on your face. The future is the dynamic and contextual smartphone. Their unique technology brings the contextual computer and AI platform into an all-in-one phone, and stated they will be launching over the next few weeks.
Imran and Bethany reference their TED talk where they share details around the role of contextual compute, a screenless, senseless, wearable device (on lapel) that uses gesture control. In fact, Naomi Campbell wore the device on the runway (reference article) at Paris Fashion Week in September. Their soon to be launched Humane Ai PIN is Humane’s first product and is a small form factor that resembles the “face” of a smartwatch but is worn or pinned to your clothing. The product is set to debut on November 9th.
Next up was a fireside chat between Quinn Li and Tomer Weingarten, the Co-founder and CEO of SentinelOne. SentinelOne’s primary focus is based on the role of AI based security. SentinelOne shares they provide, “The First Security AI Platform to Protect the Entire Enterprise.” They leverage multi-modal AI learning that is predictive and integrated as the system should know what to do without asking. The solution is also aimed to know security risks before humans. The industry is shifting beyond the physical, and cracking integrated algorithms requires accuracy that we are missing today, shares Tomer. SentinelOne is pointing to very specific tasks and narrowing the scope as contextual AI is smart enough to figure out how to respond and predict. Tomer also shares that data sets are important as monitoring devices that ingest mass amounts of data, and even petabytes into the cloud is required to provide visibility and protection. SentinelOne has experienced 100% revenue growth in the last years reaching $1B annual recurring revenue (ARR).
There were also two panels at the summit including one on AI infrastructure and one on warehouse automation. First, let’s share the highlights of the AI infrastructure panel titled, “AI Developer Tools & Infrastructure.” This panel was joined by Luis Ceze, theCo-founder and CEO of OctoML and Gourab De, Vice President of Weights & Biases. The panelists shared that some AI is disappearing because it is now part of the system i.e. decision trees, machine vision. In addition, compute cycles are being optimized for machine learning engineers and developers. Developers are now building products around the model, including uX ,and this means infrastructure needs to change fast with inferencing becoming more compute hungry and in real-time. Weights and Biases is using computer vision models to train the model faster, while collaborating with machine learning engineers and others. Generative AI requires new interactions and thought leadership including researchers, linguists, product managers and others. Some want to see things visually and prompt monitoring may need to be more visual and interactive. OctoML uses DeepAI while scaling, tuning, and running models in the cloud. AI developers require smarter tools and infrastructure to support large data sets, including media generation. “OctoML makes AI more sustainable through efficient model execution and automation to scale services and reduce engineering burden.”
The second panel focused on Warehouse Automation and was the one that I personally had the privilege to moderate and participate in. Panelists included Arshan Poursohi, Co-founder & CEO of Thirdwave Automation, Lior Elazary, Founder and CEO of inVia Robotics, and Marcus Hehn, Co-founder and CTO of Verity. This session focused on robotics, autonomous systems, and drone technology used for supply chain management (SCM), inventory management, logistics, and warehouse operations. This session started out focusing on the industry challenges including visibility, real-time asset intelligence, and overall tracking and monitoring for optimal delivery of products and goods to the end customer. There are changing dynamics with companies like Amazon and others providing more customized and personalized customer experiences. This changing dynamic places greater need to leverage automation to manage inventory and assets. The panelists also shared insights on how machines and humans are working collaboratively. While robots and robotic systems can assist in repetitive and mundane warehouse operations, humans will have oversight and need to be trained to manage these systems. In addition, humans and machines will work together and education is important. Advancements in robotics and drone technologies, along with data intelligence gathering from these systems, is also giving rise to the acceptance in warehousing operations. The use of AI at the edge or data collection point is bringing real-time intelligence to many actionable insights specific to the products, inventory items, and delivery processes. The future of AI and the use with robotics, drones, and autonomous systems will revolve around data intelligence, machine vision, smart cameras, and large language model training.
Two additional sessions including Deploying AI On Device presented by Krishna Sridhar, Co-Founder and CEO of Tetra and the fireside chat with Rahul Singh, the Co-founder and Vice President of Engineering at ideaForge provided additional insights around on-device AI and drone (UAS) mapping, security, and surveillance.
In addition to the fireside chats, panels, and presentations, the summit also included fast-round “pitches” or quick insight sharing from the following companies:
Final Thoughts from Stephanie
The summit was hard-hitting, extremely insightful, and showcased a range of companies innovating and launching the next wave of technologies in Edge AI and enterprise automation. I find that the venture and young company competition events can be the best events to learn and open your mind to the “what’s next.” While my background is centered around technology, logistics, and automation, the wrapping of all three of these areas with advancements in AI is exciting and the industry will need to get it “right.” AI is extremely over-hyped and I evaluate the industry with caution. While generative AI overall has been targeted as being “free” and more consumer focused, the real opportunity lies around AI on device and AI in the enterprise. Just as with IoT and edge computing, it will be the AI solutions that address enterprise operations and provide true value that will win in the end. Value proposition, use case reliability, and industry-specific applications will be vital to bring AI to the “Art of the Possible.”
Prepared and Written By: Stephanie Atkinson of Compass Intelligence
IoT is NOT dead, but the game is changing. When the term "IoT" took off, some experts and analyst firms categorized it as an industry. Some of us, especially the crew at IoT Coffee Talk, would get so aggravated at the blanket term of IoT when used to describe a narrowed market or a myopic description of the technology. IoT remains a blanket term used to describe things (i.e. assets, structures, tangible objects, mobile vehicles, items, etc.) being connected to the Internet. In 2010, Ericsson first shared there would be a projected 50 billion connected devices by 2020. That later was cut to 25 billion, and in the end was not the important factor. All of that, in my opinion missed the mark. Connections are connections are connections...Are the tech firms making money and are the businesses (clients) adopting and rolling out "IoT" seeing value?
While being connected is important...assets, for example, being connected really gain value when there are actionable insights, viable analytics, and the data can be used for business value. In addition, the tech companies providing IoT services and solutions (hardware, software, services, etc.) need to make money. So many businesses have come for the hype and left in debt, as they were never able to scale or offered no business value that made them margin.
Now, let's get back to business value. Business value may include reducing costs, preventing failure or disruption, improving operations, bringing new revenue, offering asset visibility, meeting compliance requirements, and much more. The other important business aspect, is when we connect these "things," the business value becomes important only if it contributes financially to the business, presents a trackable ROI, and/or provides relevant business incentives.
Many in the industry believe the hype of IoT is over, and it really is. Why though do I say that IoT is NOT dead. The industry is now transitioning away from using the terms IoT and IoT as a marketing term is fading, especially among other hype tech areas. IoT has always been about a particular industry and automating that industry. Technologists are realizing they must dive deeper and apply the technology to the specific industry, and apply context to how the tech will:
For those "IoT" companies that are still around, you have survived but you also will need to adapt. My advice is to not jump on the next shiny thing (many have been utilizing AI long before the hype entered), but to continue to provide context of your products and services and how it applies to your customer. If your customer is in the hospitality industry, then dive deep into that industry (travel, hotel experiences, occupancy optimization) and understand the traveler needs, apply your business development delivery in an intentional manner. Immerse yourself, do your research, train your teams, hire the experts, and be intentional. Find ISVs, VARs, and other partners to help your go-to-market, especially those that specialize in specific industries as they may "own" the customer. Collaboration will be essential. Just as in the rap industry, you have to collaborate to stay relevant!
STAY TUNED, the IoT Innovator Awards by CompassIntel will open for nominations this fall!
Hope on over to our AWARDS page to get your nominations in for the 11th annual CompassIntel awards. Let us know if you have any questions, just simply email us directly at email@example.com.
Recently, I sat down with Art Miller to chat about Qualcomm’s IoT role in the retail sector. Art is the Global Head of Retail IoT at Qualcomm and is responsible for overall strategy in the retail vertical. Before I share more about our exciting conversation, let’s first dive into the retail industry. Retail includes a wide range of small (mom and pop, at home, direct to consumer) to large businesses (mass retailers, global chains) that sell products direct to the consumer, including those selling purely online and those that sell across all channels (in-store, online, direct). Qualcomm targets both retailers and the suppliers to retailers including the CPG market (consumer packaged goods). Suppliers may include companies like Honeywell, Zebra Technologies, Sunmi, Datalogic, Telpo, Veea, and Elo.
When thinking about retailers, a number of key hardware and equipment is used for things such as access points for public and private Wi-Fi, price and inventory scanners, security and surveillance cameras, RF scanning, point-of-sale hardware, self-checkout equipment, kiosks, shelf scanners, temperature sensors, and so much more. Art shared that Qualcomm supported both Hyvee (Elo I-Series 4 with Qualcomm SDA660 chipset) and Target on implementing price scanners and overhead cameras throughout their retail stores. As part of their partnerships in retail, point of sale is very important as consumers take control of the transactional experience. Qualcomm ships roughly 10 million Snapdragon (Android-based) point of sale (POS) devices per year working with companies like Clover and Square. They also work with Sunmi in China, who make handheld and wireless POS, barcode, and tablet devices.
The retail industry continues to experience a number of trends that are made possible with technology. One of the major trends in retail for sales and marketing is the omnichannel approach. Consumers require experiences that enable in-store, online, by phone, and any other channel to provide a seamless buying and shopping experience. Tools, both software and hardware, have advanced to provide curbside, delivery, same day, and self-checkout. Self-checkout has been boosted by the pandemic, as it allows for consumers to interact less with humans, provide additional safety measure, and to help speed the checkout process. Qualcomm, for example, is using AI software running on hardware to enable “Face Pay” in China…essentially allowing the consumer to be identified, authenticated, and transact, all with the capture of the face image. Vendors Qualcomm worked with for the face pay solution include Arima (display), Clover (POS), Cyberlink (face authentication), Infineon (3D image sensor), pmdtechnologies (3D image sensor), Ordyx (POS Software), and Sunmi, while the technology is powered by Qualcomm’s QCS6125 and SDA660 processors.
In addition to the trends in omnichannel and self-checkout, is the trend of sensor systems. Art shared sensors are being used to check the temperature of refrigeration (refrigerated shelf and displays) and people (for Covid safety), placed in kiosks for transactional purposes, and even being used for shelf scanning. The B2B (Business to Business) retail channel is also heavily using IoT technology for advancing the customer experience, but for this article we will focus on B2C (Business to Consumer). Qualcomm offers a range of solutions including Wi-Fi cards, modems, servers, smart cameras, and even distributed intelligence (edge, edge AI). They are currently working with more than 14,000 IoT partners and trusted advisors to support end-to-end solutions. Their retail IoT solutions are targeted around on-device AI, computer vision and sensors.
Art shares that retailers are looking to upscale and empower retail employees, while also reducing overall operational costs because of Covid. Outside of the use cases being driven by the pandemic, Art shared a number of additional use cases Qualcomm has been working on with its partners. Intelligence and automation are moving closer to the customer or buyer. There is the trend of accessing real-time information at the shelf edge (Clover point of sale system can be upgraded to now be the access point for electronic shelf information) including advertising and product information. Qualcomm’s Art Miller says retailers can use E shelf labels (SES-imagotag is a partner) and pricing automation to provide improved buying experiences. Outside of digitization of the shelf, other areas of innovation include the areas of delivery and picking efficiencies using robotics (i.e., Orionstar Delivery Robot powered by Qualcomm SDA845 processor) and drones. Art shared one example where a client obtained 30% picking efficiency improvements after using a number of tools part of Qualcomm’s retail portfolio (along with partners).
Art shared that modality, including payment modalities, in the store is changing, where there is increased use of AI and edge appliances, including where Qualcomm makes “dumb” cameras smart. Qualcomm will create a blueprint and then work with retail partners to provide end-to-end solutions for improved buyer experiences and operations. For example, Qualcomm is a chip-side vendor with Elo who makes retail touchscreens for Yum! Brands. Art shared that Qualcomm enables their retail partners and identifies gaps between market offers to make decisions on which OEMs/ODM to partner with, as they indirectly serve retail consumers. Qualcomm maintains a verified 3rd party ecosystem of retail relationships including distributors, design centers, hardware providers, software providers, and test centers. Qualcomm aims to enable the retail sector and its suppliers to keep “reimagining, digitizing and improving retail experiences.”
Learn more about Qualcomm’s Retail offerings here:
How crazy is it that traditional broadband providers are seeing record growth in adding wireless subscribers (MVNO services), while carriers are seeing record growth in broadband subscriber adds (FWA or fixed wireless access aka 5G Home Internet or 5G Business Internet)? Should cable broadband operators work up a reseller agreement and sell fixed wireless access as an MVNO?
The industry is clearly showcasing the stronger trust, energy, and value proposition of wireless overall. We are finally seeing the reach of wireless overtake traditional fiber and wireline GROWTH as the industry matures and 5G delivers connectivity options across business and consumer. Fixed wireless access (FWA) is currently seeing a bit of a battle between Verizon and T-Mobile, while AT&T places its bet on fiber after pulling away from a fixed wireless strategy from 2021. FWA is not new and certainly been around for a while as WISPs (Wireless Internet Service Providers) have been serving rural America with these services for quite some time.
Fixed wireless access or FWA in the most simplest terms provides consumers and business with an alternative or complete replacement to traditional broadband services (DSL, Cable, Fiber, T-1s, etc.). Customers can essentially be up and running with a hardware installation at the home or office (radio/receiver, antenna, cat 5 wiring, and connectivity to your WiFi router, etc.). Of course getting access from a WISP versus a carrier will have differing installations based on the nature of point-to-point and multi-directional access. The service essentially provides broadband over the wireless network or over wireless radios that communicate to the base stations or towers. As microcell, small cell, and mmWave technologies improve and enhance, we will see improved hardware and installation strategies impact overall revenue for the carriers and WISPs offering fixed wireless services.
FWA can be seen as an alternative to wired broadband, but today we are seeing both consumers and businesses look to FWA as a complete replacement to their broadband services (T-Mobile shares in a recent report that their customers are replacing cable). While WISPs generally target rural and remote areas where fiber, cable and DSL is not an option, Verizon and T-Mobile for example are targeting cities and suburban areas, as well as the SMB market. In addition to looking at FWA as a alternative or replacement, customers are also evaluating and implementing fixed wireless to complement or provide additional connectivity options (failover) for their homes or business locations. From a branding perspective you may see the services being called 5G Home Internet or something similar. Outside of Verizon and T-Mobile, US Cellular also provides the service to its customers along with many WISPs.
While FWA has traditionally been sold to homes and rural areas, today carriers are targeting businesses more than they have in the past, and the SMB sector is a primary target. There is an estimated 500K total business FWA subscribers today, with an expectation to grow to over a million very quickly as both Verizon and T-Mobile are adding 100s of thousands business customers each quarter. According to Ericsson's most recent Mobility Report, the global FWA market is expected to reach 300 million by 2028 and be driven my international markets, and more specifically India. They claim we will reach roughly 100 million FWA connections globally by the end of this year.
As for the carriers, CompassIntel shares a summary of the key happenings for the top FWA carriers. T-Mobile is currently winning the race and has done a very good job at releasing new FWA business offerings that will provide them with continued runway as they have a very strong customer base of SMBs, who we believe will be more likely to replace their broadband service.
T-Mobile – T-Mobile states they have more than 2M FWA customers, with a goal of 7-8 million FWA customers by 2025. Their most recent quarter net adds totaled 578K and they have experienced continued quarter to quarter growth in 2022. T-Mobile targets both consumers and businesses and recently announced their T-Mobile Business Internet services offering both primary and failover Internet packages. The packages range from unlimited to those based on data ranging from 10GB to 300GB. Their business strategy revolves around a focus on cyclical or temporary businesses, point of sale operations, pop up shops, and hybrid workforces. They will continue to leverage mmWave capacity for enhancements to its coverage and reach.
Verizon - Verizon offers FWA to both consumers and businesses and their business services aka '5G Business Internet' is available at 2 million locations today, and is scaling to 14-25M locations by 2025. Fierce Wireless states that "Verizon’s 5G FWA service is available to about 30 million homes." Today Verizon shares they serve 1.06M FWA customers and have a target of 4 million to 5 million by the end of 2025. Their most recent quarter experienced additions of 342K net adds in Q3 with an estimated 32% of those adds going to business customers or subscribers. Offerings start at 300Mbps and go to 1-gig while they leverage both millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum and C-Band mid-band spectrum for their coverage.
AT&T – AT&T shifted their focus away from FWA from 2021 to focus more on their overall fiber buildout and strategy. Compass Intelligence estimates AT&T serves an estimated 700K FWA subscribers today.
UScellular – US Cellular currently serves around 57K FWA subscribers on 4G, and is focusing on the expansion of 5G FWA over mmWave spectrum in 10 cities. They claim to have 23% annual growth for their FWA services from 2021 to 2022.
To wrap up, pay attention to the advancements in mmWave and small cell equipment and radio hardware solutions. These advancements will help further improve capacity, installation efficiencies, and better serve business quality broadband services that are needed to help close the digital divide and improve connectivity across the globe.
As we start the last month of December, Compass Intelligence has been thinking through the "What's Next" in technology. As a careful observer of funding, startups, announcements, news, and key happenings, I have noticed a very subtle trend of projects, press, announcements, new hires, and funding moving towards automotive, transportation, and the infrastructure that mobilizes these machines. Now you have to really dig a bit deeper, as the automotive space is vast and so is the technology sector. If you combine these 2 industries and focus in on the following trends, you will see an opportunity of a trillion plus market:
Unlike other over-hyped industries, the autonomous, driverless, and electric vehicle markets are accelerating at an even faster pace than the experts predicted 5 years ago. This industry is now embracing the human machine interface and new driver experiences are on the horizon. The combination of advanced technologies and transportation is undergoing a massive METAmorphosis...Are you ready? When will we see Level 5 autonomous on the streets in your city?
Compass Intelligence likes to be one step ahead of the game, and while these markets are not necessarily new, the growth and opportunity is opening up due to advancements in technologies such as AI, HMI, data analytics, IoT, edge computing, 5G, and others. All of this said, we are announcing the launch of a number of new services, focus areas, and recognition programs targeted around the automotive technology sector.
New services & programs will include:
How do you get involved?
Learn more about why this research is important and review the award categories below, and be on the lookout for our press release in early December.
On October 20th, a large group of industry analysts joined 5G Americas staff and members to discuss the state of 5G. Neville Ray of T-Mobile, Chair of 5G Americas, kicked off the event after a warm welcome and a setting of the stage by Chris Pearson (President of 5G Americas). Ray stated we are “In the next phase of 5G networks,” and “5G is finally starting to gain real traction.” A wide range of stats were shared along with some important factoids showing we are moving the needle in the Americas. Participating companies included Airspan, Cisco, Qualcomm, Samsung, T-Mobile, AT&T, Ciena, Mavenir, Nokia, Ericsson,Crown Castle, VMware, and Intel.
While the foundational layer in 5G is located in the low band spectrum, mid-band 5G in the United States is now real…..but as all of us know, we need more mid-band spectrum to reach full potential of 5G use cases and applications. Currently, more than 66% of the geographic land mass is covered by 5G, while this same percentage of the population has access to 5G. Having a 5G enabled device is a bit underwhelming, with less than half of the U.S. population having access to a device with a 5G radio. With an investment of more than $100 billion over the last few years, 5G phones and subscriptions reached a total of 140 million, which remains less than half of the North American population. The most significant finding is that 5G is about increased data consumption, as Neville shared we are about 2.5 to 3 times higher data consumption with 5G compared to LTE.
When thinking about the networks and advancements being made, we must remember we will rely on 4G/LTE for quite some time even though 5G networks are continuing to be deployed and improved. There are currently 14 total 5G networks running that enable streaming, gaming, social media and communications, and other business or enterprise-based applications. Outside of all of these data-intensive categories, Neville Ray mentioned for the industry to NOT forget about voice….yes, voice is still important for 5G and the advancements are really all around Voice over NR or New Radio (pronounced Vonar, aka Vo5G/Voice over 5G) (Related News: https://techblog.comsoc.org/2022/06/04/t-mobile-launches-voice-over-5g-nr-using-5g-sa-core-network/).
5G Americas noteworthy trends revolve around the following highlighted areas:
Fixed wireless access or FWA is being seen as an alternative to wired broadband and Wi-Fi (See Wi-Fi6) connectivity for a number of reasons. In many cases, the WISPs leveraged unlicensed spectrum to reach rural communities who lacked quality broadband, but over the past year the conversation has shifted to enterprise interest. Some believe it to be a complement or to augment existing connectivity options (especially cable). While FWA is creating capacity and new capabilities, especially for business use, additional and new spectrum is coming. FWA will continue to remain an available option for businesses in the US and internationally, but will continue to be squeezed by fiber and funding that may benefit fiber build out (Further Reading: WISPs embrace fiber as they face do or die moment).
The carriers have been busy when it comes to FWA, especially in terms of their announcements and overall growth. Of course with that comes a bit of a reverse, as the overhype of FWA is now settling. “Verizon Communications…touted the addition of 234,000 fixed wireless access residential customers in the third quarter and another 108,000 FWA subscribers on the business-services side, upping its total FWA base to over 1 million users,” as seen on NextTV. T-Mobile will have their Q3 earnings call tomorrow but as Forbes shared, “T-Mobile has also made a dent in the broadband space, with its fixed wireless broadband offering adding an industry-leading 560,000 new broadband subscribers (last quarter),” while today they have more than 1.5 million FWA subscribers. Ericsson also shared, “UScellular was the first service provider to offer consumers and enterprise Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services, using 5G extended-range millimeter-wave (mmWave) to target digital divide areas in rural America, reaching coverage of over 5 km.” While the activity for fixed wireless has expanded over the past year, spectrum access and fiber will remain critical factors for continued growth.
Below is a slide that was shared at 5G Americas that highlights some of the overall FWA stats (Source: 5G Americas & Their Members).
While some of you may be tired of tech acronyms, it is the way we lazy people essentially describe long-winded tech terms. Enter C-V2X or Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything). C-V2X is considered a mid-term opportunity and is expected to open up a range of opportunities driven by low latency, high performance 5G network services. Think about your car becoming your hub or essentially just like any other device. This hub will speak to the road, to traffic lights, to city traffic bodies, to public safety, to you and your passengers, to your auto dealership, to your car manufacturer and even to all your favorite content providers. In addition, these hubs will speak to each other building a network of communications across many sources. A range of entertainment, safety, location and routing, and interactive services will be launched and made available to drivers and passengers as a result. Your car needs reliable, high-speed wireless connectivity and 5G gets us there. We are in the earlier stages, but we do expect ongoing announcements well into 2023 to directly address the opportunities of 5G in C-V2X.
Network slicing is a near term focus across low, mid, and high-band spectrum. Enterprise and consumer applications focused on improved throughput, low latency, and other requirements see network slicing as a way to “carve out dimensional experiences,” shared Neville Ray. While we are in the early game of network slicing, we have yet to truly understand all the potential advantages and improvements that may come as we purpose-build the network.
Aside from the key trends, and even more important, are the actual use cases for 5G. While the Analyst Forum had a strong emphasis on 5G for consumer and the growth in experiences there, I believe the true opportunity will lie with the enterprise and government sectors. Consumer 5G revolves around things like wearables, gaming, social communications, metaverse (not my favorite word), shopping, navigation, health/wellness, and sports. On the enterprise side, 5G presents new connectivity options for mass IoT and autonomous transportation, especially in use cases where the assets (fleets, products, equipment, people, machines, etc.) are mobile or meaning they are moving. These assets need to be monitored, measured, tracked, repaired, and acted upon for a variety of purposes and for reasons specific to the industry. Some of the vertical markets or industries where 5G opportunities exist include manufacturing, utilities, transportation, remote health care, digital cities, and education. For factories or logistics applications for example, mmWave is being used to enhance connectivity performance in robotics, as well as being used for sensing in agriculture or for farming applications.
While 5G has been met with a sense of excitement and overall hype, we remain in the stage of improving overall network performance and build-out to meet enterprise and new customer experience expectations. There will always be hesitation for 5G adoption as a replacement to fiber, but for now we should think about applications where 5G is the only solution or where 5G will augment connectivity to provide better performance for things like robotics, transportation, supply chain monitoring, customer/digital experiences, etc. Lastly, the industry will continue to seek out additional mid-band spectrum as is needed to scale and to reach performance expectations.
Special thank you to the 5G Americas team for hosting all of us analysts and for putting together great content. Contact Stephanie directly to learn more about other panel sessions and content that was shared at the event.
Recommendations for further reading and research: Open RAN, Spectrum Policy and FCC Activities, mmWave, RedCap (Reduced Capacity) New Radio, Dynamic Spectrum Sharing, Unlicensed Spectrum. Please visit 5G Americas to learn more and to get access to their whitepapers and studies.
To get access to further wireless research including 5G, please visit our WIRELESS RESEARCH store.
Written by Stephanie Atkinson
In September 2022, Stephanie Atkinson visited the beautiful San Diego campus of Qualcomm. Please enjoy this executive chat with Jeff Lorbeck (SVP and GM, Connected Smart Systems at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.) and listen to the guru himself share the latest trends in IoT, AI, smart cameras, autonomous vehicles and much more. Learn why and how Qualcomm is advancing the Connected Intelligent Edge!
How Qualcomm is Advancing AI and Internet of Things to Prepare Tomorrow’s Businesses and Cities
Field services and fleet management go hand in hand, while IoT (Internet of Things) continues to provide essential real-time intelligence to improve visibility, safety, and operational efficiencies. Connectivity, tracking, and telematics are at the center of the advancements being made in these industries. When you think about field services, you think many moving parts that need coordination…you think a wide range of logistics synchronization, customer support, delivery operations, and other coordinated activities that are all collectively brought about to make sure products/goods and services are delivered on time, with superior customer service, and with complete accuracy and safety. Field services and operations may include activities such as collecting customer insights, scheduling/dispatching of fleets, bid and estimate calculations, work orders and troubleshooting, and other administrative functions such as billing, accounts receivable, client/customer relations, and more. In addition, some field service teams may also include repair, maintenance, installation, and other services where technicians are required. People, processes, planning, and profit remain the four critical components of field services. The industry continues to move towards a digital transformation journey embracing cloud, software as a service, and IoT.
On the other side you have fleet operations that may require tracking, safety protocols, management, compliance, and coordination. So many industries rely on fleet operations including public safety, construction, HVAC, energy (oil & gas), shipping/logistics, telecommunications, waste management, public transportation, and just about any industry that has repair/maintenance/technician operations. Once a technician needs to be dispatched or needs to complete a delivery, there are many facets to organizing, coordinating, and tracking assets across the fleet. Tracking may take place around the assets in the vehicle, the fleet vehicles, and the drivers or mobile workforce. The human element remains important as safety and compliance become a top priority for drivers, workers, and technicians.
The innovation taking place across field service and fleet management is driven by technology, and more specifically IoT, smart cameras, GPS tracking, telematics and real-time intelligence garnered through automation (AI, machine learning), sensor systems, edge computing, and software. Moreover, are the platforms and software systems that enable transparency and management, providing visibility across the fleet and field operations. GPS Insight is one such company bringing together field services and fleet management. In January 2022, GPS Insight acquired FieldAware, and CEO Gary Fitzgerald shared,
“Our focus has been on bringing together fleet data and telematics technology with field service management solutions.”
Of course, there are vendors operating in these fields but very few provide a streamlined portfolio of services to serve both field service and fleet operations. GPS Insight continues to have a laser-targeted approach and states,
“Joining forces with FieldAware not only extends our competitive advantage across the field service and fleet management landscape, but also provides new capabilities to transform customer satisfaction into a new standard: customer success.”
Field service and fleet management industries were hampered over the last few years and still grappling with the pandemic impact and supply chain shortages. The U.S. is also facing labor shortages, which further creates constraints for hiring and maintaining worker satisfaction. Profit loss, worker retention, and supply chain issues remain top of mind for many leaders in these sectors. However, labor shortages will push us further into relying on technology, automation, and real-time intelligence to get things done efficiently. Compass Intelligence expects field service and fleet management to remain one of the largest contributors to IoT connections growth, as we increase connectivity and tracking of people, assets, and fleets. IoT is and will continue to be essential to meet these challenges head on and provide real-time intelligence for improved operations and supply chain visibility.
In early July, I was honored to have a chat with Megha Daga, Senior Director of Product Management and AI/ML lead for the Internet of Things (IoT) at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. . As a critical player in AI enablement across the IoT group at Qualcomm, Megha has been crucial in the development of cutting-edge AI solutions used around the world.
We dove right into what Qualcomm has been up to as it continues to advance IoT through the different core offerings, partnerships, and cutting-edge solutions that Qualcomm offers. To set the tone of our conversation, we discussed Edge AI.
Edge AI is essentially intelligence moving to the data generator, according to Megha. Along with getting data faster, a host of other factors impact Edge AI, including privacy, cost, latency, reliability, and bandwidth. For businesses or enterprises, the simplicity of the technology revolves around business intelligence occurring on the device or close to the device itself to enable IoT.
Qualcomm provides a portfolio of hardware technology, but even more exciting is their advancements in software design and embedded processing innovation. The company understands how heterogenous computing makes AI possible and is pushing the envelope to remain competitive in AI and IoT. Some of the stronger vertical markets and industries that Qualcomm is targeting include retail, logistics, energy, utilities, industrial, and robotics.
To further advance into AI, Qualcomm launched the Vision AI Development Kit. This Azure IoT Starter kit is a vision AI developer kit for running artificial intelligence models on devices at the intelligent edge. With Edge AI, data is generated and pushed to the cloud. Legacy devices such as retail payment terminals and other industry specific devices are being digitized and modernized. Hardware or devices can be connected to a box, i.e., edge gateway. Megha shared that Qualcomm is taking metadata and compute to the box, implementing further compute as needed, then sending only the required data back to the cloud. The traditionally “dumb” environment is becoming more intelligent and bringing efficiencies to businesses and operations. Another Qualcomm AI example outside of retail is in logistics, more specifically warehouse operations. Robotics and drones may be used for picking and dropping, reducing overall payloads, and therefore reducing costs.
Edge AI and IoT are coming together to minimize compute to the cloud, as the overall costs of sending massive data to the cloud is becoming more cost prohibitive, and a concern for larger enterprises. The issues of privacy, latency, and connectivity again remain important factors. Privacy not only affects consumers, it also impacts businesses and their customers’ experiences. As for latency, think of delivery robots on the street, providing sub-millisecond intelligence and information to enable operations and efficiency so consumers can get food, packages, products delivered (similar to same day delivery).
Regarding connectivity, especially for operations in remote locations (construction, agriculture), having on-device or near device data intelligence can be critical. Examples Megha mentioned included drones connected to a gateway to enable crop intelligence, construction management, and mining operations.
Qualcomm’s portfolio continues to evolve to support AI and Edge AI, with a stronger focus on software. Their hardware and chipsets will continue to be their foundation, as they grow their partnerships with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Qualcomm is leading in the areas of enabling AI on traditional CPUs/DPUs or AI on SDKs. Another cutting-edge development includes AI on embedded processing (low power, high performance).
According to Megha, a few exciting AI areas that Qualcomm has been innovating around includes drone robots, and camera technology. Taking regular cameras for example and making them intelligent, using technologies such as machine vision and AI running on heterogenous computing to completely disrupt its capabilities. Megha shared that Qualcomm is using hardware accelerators for neural network workloads. Furthermore, AMR devices (autonomous mobile robots, i.e., Bosch devices) is an area where Qualcomm is developing chipsets and reference designs to further advance delivery. For example, they recently launched the RB6, a high-end chipset with an accelerator card allowing the robot to greatly improve throughput (i.e., delivery robots).
As far as software goes, Qualcomm is investing and innovating to provide seamless software across the Qualcomm AI stack. Qualcomm is providing unification for developer building and changes, using Qualcomm Intelligence multimedia SDKs providing authentication and simplification for development and deployment, across multiple verticals. Developers and software tools remain a top priority for Qualcomm. Qualcomm realizes the end-customer (businesses and government) require and need end-to-end solutions and thus continues to build out its IoT partner portfolio (vendors, integrators, industry focused providers) focused on software/applications, platforms, and other solutions
I’ll end with a great use case example shared by Megha. The Qualcomm AI Engine runs ML models in IoT devices, such as a security camera that recognizes a family member and activates a smart lock to allow entry. Or an office building that allows employees onto an elevator based on a touchpad. This context showcases the importance of how Qualcomm is advancing AI and IoT to prepare tomorrow’s businesses and cities.
For more reading, please check out, “Qualcomm Advances Development of Smarter and Safer Autonomous Robots for Logistics, Industry 4.0, and Urban Aerial Mobility with Next-Generation 5G and AI Robotics Solutions”
Written by Stephanie Atkinson, CEO of Compass Intelligence
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