[InnoVEX FORUM 2022] 5G Enables Cross-Sector Vertical Applications

 2022-08-12 By: InnoVEX Team

As the latest commercially available communication network, 5G offers faster speed, lower latency, and mass connection to enable various smart solutions. While 5G is undoubtedly beneficial for the individual users, 5G truly shines in organizational, industrial, or even national applications. Smart factories, smart cities, automated vehicles, and many more wide area smart solutions will rely on 5G to connect the thousands of IoT, IoV, or even IoE devices to the cloud, edge, or central control systems. At the same time, 5G adoption is still relatively new and some details will need to be resolved; including the standards, metrics, connection bands, etc. For all the benefits that 5G offers, it is not without weaknesses and the short range connection will have to be addressed to make the technology truly usable. 5G can facilitate smart vertical solutions and some organizations are developing, testing, implementing, or even using these 5G connected solutions.

The Taiwan 5G Vertical Application Summit discussed this ongoing trend with speakers from industry leading companies as well as academics and government representatives. The speakers shared their experience in implementing 5G for their industry and how cross-sector partnership became a cornerstone in 5G adoption. The speakers joining this forum are:

  • Jim Hou, Director of Engineering of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.;

  • Tommy Tang, Senior Vice President of LEO SYSTEMS, INC.;

  • Yen-Jen Chen, Associate Director of AI Center / Associate Professor of Electronic Engineering of Ming Chi University of Technology;

  • Tingyun Wang, BD director of PEGATRON Corporation;

  • Danny Ting, National Technology Officer of Microsoft Taiwan;

  • Vincent WH Hsiao; Associate Vice President of Foxconn Global Network Corporation;

  • Tai Hua Liu, President of EPC Solutions Taiwan;

  • Mark Chen, Senior Vice President of Tatung System Technologies Inc.;

  • HongYu Chen, Vice President of Tatung System Technologies Inc.;

  • Will Huang, BD Director of Wave-In Communication;

  • Kent Chen, Vice President of MiTAC Information Technology;

  • Jim Hsu, Product Management Lead of MITAC Computing Technology;

  • Irving Fan, Deputy Director of Compal Electronics;

  • Jason Liao, Manager of Product Dept. of InSynerger Technology.

  • The forum was also joined by Dong Yang Hsu, Director of ITRI as moderator for the panel discussion with opening remarks by Tony Wang, Chairman of Taiwan 5G Verticals Alliance and Chyou-Huey Chiou, Director General of Department of Industrial Technology, Ministry of Economic Affairs.

    Enterprise Private Networks as Main Driver for 5G Adoption

    Jim Hou, Director of Engineering of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. shared in his keynote speech that since the launch of 5G, many breakthrough application cases have been developed in various fields and have promoted the advancement of related technologies that can bring about a smarter and more connected world. As a communication network, 5G is the backbone of various new technologies and its true value is shown when 5G is integrated with other technologies such as cloud, AI, IoT, etc. to achieve smart communications and enable smart innovations.

    Now that 5G has entered its official commercialization phase, 5G has undergone significant digital transformation in various industries. According to IHS Market, 5G is expected to generate $13.2 trillion in sales enablement by 2035. This value is expected to come in through industries ranging from therapeutics, cities, industrial applications, agriculture, manufacturing, production, transportation, retail, and energy. One of the ways 5G is expected to deliver this value is through enterprise private networks because 5G is able to not only provide a dedicated network bandwidth, but also mobile communication security and optimized low latency to ensure the best user experience.

    The enterprise private network spectrum has been released continuously after 5G enters the commercial transition, which also represents the great expectations of various countries for the investment and expansion of 5G. In 2020, Qualcomm, Chunghwa Telecom, and ASE jointly built the first 5G millimeter-wave smart factory. It was the first in the world to use 5G networking to collect actual operation data in the factory and it was able to perform automatic inspection, remote maintenance, and even smart education. Today 5G drives the global industrial transformation and provides huge business opportunities. In Taiwan, it provides a great opportunity for a massive industrial transformation and value chain upgrade. Taiwan has the advantages and competitiveness of a complete supply chain for ICT industry and talents, which is very important to develop vertical applications of 5G and cross-industry R&D innovation.

    5G as the Backbone of New Smart Industrial Solutions

    Industrial smart solutions rely on a large number of IoT devices which will need fast connections, low latency, large bandwidth, and mass connection to make sure the system works as intended. Today, 5G is available for both personal and organizational users who need them. For personal users, 5G’s main draw will be its high speed that can be as high as 20x faster than 4G. However, organizational users will perhaps be more interested in its low latency and mass connection that will be able to facilitate various smart solutions.

    As smart solutions are built to solve more complex problems and perform more specialized tasks, 5G has become a necessity rather than a novelty for some applications and industries. The series of keynote speeches share 6 success stories of 5G in organizational, professional, industrial, and societal capacities.

    Speakers for the first keynote speech were Tommy Tang, Senior Vice President of LEO SYSTEMS, INC. and Yen-Jen Chen, Associate Director of AI Center / Associate Professor of Electronic Engineering of Ming Chi University of Technology with focus on 5G supported smart factory inspection systems. Despite all the safety measures put in place at the factory, there is still a risk of catastrophic failure with potentially horrendous or lethal damages. Currently many inspections and calibrations are still done manually and with humans doing most of the tasks; inconsistencies, mistakes, or negligence are unavoidable.

    Many inspection processes today still need to be done manually by humans and while providing them with additional tools or equipment might solve the aforementioned issues of inconsistencies, mistakes, or negligence; it will add a different problem to the workers. Inspections are often specialized tasks that need different tools measuring different metrics and providing those tools to the workers might put their lives in danger when in contact with the factory machineries. The best option might be to provide the workers with several devices such as connected glasses, handheld scanners, etc. that perform the necessary functions and collect the needed data but do not take up space, weigh down the worker, or jeopardize the worker’s safety.

    All of the gathered data will need to be transmitted back to a base station to be processed by an AI model that will then issue corrections or adjustments needed to ensure the facility operates normally. 5G’s characteristics fulfill the requirements to make sure there is as little delay as possible between scanning and correction time as errors might cause catastrophic failures in a factory that can cost people’s lives and livelihoods.

    The second keynote was joined by Tingyun Wang, BD director of PEGATRON Corporation and Danny Ting, National Technology Officer of Microsoft Taiwan. The speakers focused on how 5G facilitates smart factories with edge computing. Transforming conventional factories into smart factories is a gradual process that may start at different points for different factories. However, some aspects of smart factory transformations will remain constant such as the use of AI and the requirement for massive data to make sure the AI model works as intended.

    Obtaining massive data requires IoT devices, sensors, and cameras that need to be consistent even if they were deployed across different locations and functions. The bulk of the processes will be done by AI, specifically computer vision and the received data might come from thousands if not millions of devices; depending on the facility size and tasks performed. With such a massive data stream, processing directly at the individual device will be an impossible task and previously will have to rely on a centralized cloud or datacenter for processing. Today, the computation and processing might be done at the edge to reduce latency and minimize delay. Utilizing MEC (Multi-access Edge Computing) will also reduce unnecessary resource allocation as they can be modified or updated to perform other functions as needed.

    Vincent WH Hsiao; Associate Vice President of Foxconn Global Network Corporation and Tai Hua Liu, President of EPC Solutions Taiwan joined the third keynote to share their insights on 5G’s role in smart warehousing and exhibition. For a few years, 5G has been expected to boost the performance and capabilities of XR (AR/ VR/ MR) to provide more interactions, lower latency, better image quality, and multi-angle real time interaction. With the added security measures of 5G enterprise private network, the improved XR can be used for professional purposes such as hosting remote exhibitions or large scale events remotely via XR with high quality images and lifelike interactions.

    Warehousing and logistics are among the more complex tasks in a supply chain due to the unexpected changes that might happen at the last minute. In addition, external factors might also force companies to repurpose their warehouse to remain profitable or at least reduce costs. Currently most warehouses still use traditional stackers, but the stackers can be integrated with a guiding system combined with RFID and Augmented Reality (AR). Of course, the goal is to achieve fully unmanned logistics, but this will ultimately depend on whether it is financially feasible.

    RFID is a versatile technology and often used for item tracking in logistics. However, RFID will also cause interference not only with other RFID tags, but also with the surroundings such as metal and ground which makes software just as important in its application if not more important. At the same time, RFID can also be combined with cameras and other tracking technologies to create a more comprehensive logistic surveillance system.

    Discussing 5G’s application in transportation were Mark Chen, Senior Vice President of Tatung System Technologies Inc.; HongYu Chen, Vice President of Tatung System Technologies Inc.; and Will Huang, BD Director of Wave-In Communication. 5G in transportation allows for intelligent real time monitoring through IoT and AIoT; making smart transportation possible. In essence, IoT and AIoT devices collect real-time data from the operating area while AI is used to process the data and provide the necessary corrections. The current goal of smart transportation is to improve security as well as riders’ comfort and safety which can be achieved by installing numerous IoT connected cameras to provide real-time video recording.

    The next keynote by Kent Chen, Vice President of MiTAC Information Technology and Jim Hsu, Product Management Lead of MITAC Computing Technology also discussed 5G in transportation; specifically in trains and railways. Trains are among the most popular public transportation systems and carry far more passengers in a trip than a bus would; making train safety and security one of the focuses of development. Operators can also install AIoT platforms to transmit real-time information via 5G which will provide statistical analysis and prediction. The results of the analysis would be transmitted to a ground control center and displayed through data dashboard or war room displays.

    The last keynote was joined by Irving Fan, Deputy Director of Compal Electronics and Jason Liao, Manager of Product Dept. of InSynerger Technology with focus on 5G smart pole systems. Despite all of its strengths, it is undeniable that 5G still has some shortcomings; especially in terms of area of coverage and surface penetration. As a result, 5G networks will need more base stations to provide the same coverage as 4G or 3G networks. However, adding more base stations would not be the optimal solution as it might add further obstacles on the sidewalk or interfere with the aesthetics of the city. Combining the base stations with street lights is an option that is considered as it also opens up opportunities for other combinations.

    However, to make sure the smart pole can provide various functions without any problems, a certain degree of standardization is needed; especially on the construction and maintenance. The vertical application integration will include the device end, the network end in the middle, and some platforms and applications at the back. As the smart pole will integrate more than just hardware, the standardization will also need to happen on the management side for the analysis and application of big data.

    The final segment of the forum was a panel discussion featuring Tommy Tang, Senior Vice President of LEO SYSTEMS, INC.; Kent Chen, Vice President of MiTAC Information Technology; Irving Fan, Deputy Director of Compal Electronics; Tingyun Wang, BD director of PEGATRON Corporation; Vincent WH Hsiao; Associate Vice President of Foxconn Global Network Corporation; and HongYu Chen, Vice President of Tatung System Technologies Inc. The moderator for the panel discussion was Dong Yang Hsu, Director of Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI). The topic of the panel discussion was the Next Wave of Global 5G Business Opportunities for Taiwan.

    Among the main features of 5G, the main draw for organizations seems to be the large bandwidth. While private users will use 5G for downloading; organizations will need 5G for uploading information, analysis and processing through 5G edge computing, and then take critical action. 5G applications will differ significantly from the previous networks as its killer application will not be on the commercial side, but the organization/ enterprise side where enterprise private networks are expected to be the main killer application.

    Other organizational applications such as telehealth can also be further enhanced with 5G as doctors or surgeons will be able to perform surgeries remotely. This type of application will rely on 5G’s low latency and high speed to make sure the operation happens with minimum or no delays. 5G will also have more roles in smart medicine such as by collecting and sending patient data through wearables without needing the patient to visit a hospital or local health center for such procedures. The collected data can also be used to monitor and inform the patient when they actually need to visit a doctor.

    Smart exhibitions and smart venues will require cooperation between technology, equipment, 5G communications, as well as film & television technology. The goal of smart exhibitions and smart venues is to bring the onsite exhibition experience to online viewers and a distinct differentiation between a true smart exhibition/ smart venue with a remote telecast. To achieve this, service providers will need to combine their hardware & communication capabilities with other industry players.

    Traditional industries such as agriculture, animal husbandry, or fishery will also benefit from 5G adoption as it will be the main communication network for IoT devices which can be used for constant monitoring of the plants or animals’ health. From the information, users can take the necessary corrective actions to prevent unnecessary losses. Current developments might also become the backbone for future developments to further automate the processes.

    At the same time 5G might benefit from low earth orbit (LEO) satellites in addition to the conventional geostationary orbit satellites to facilitate the connection. The technology has developed over the years and created better and more reliable satellites at lower cost. In the near future, LEO satellites might be more than just a supplement for 5G networks, but one of the main facilitators.

    Watch the full forum video here.
    *The forum's audio is in Chinese, but English captions are available

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