Porto researchers lead European 6G project

Next step combines wireless comms with computer vision, sensing and machine learning

While many people are still only scratching the surface of 5G, the telecoms industry is already deep at work with 6G, “the next generation of network connectivity technology that will again change the world”.

Among those involved are researchers from the Institute for Systems Engineering and Computers, Technology and Science (INESC TEC).

According to Lusa today, they are leading a European project called CONVERGE- funded with €9 million by the European Commission – which aims to develop “innovative tools to support research infrastructures.

These tools will be developed through the “intersection of wireless communications, computer vision, sensing and machine learning”.

Researcher Luís Pessoa explains the goal is to “develop tools for research infrastructures that drive the creation of a new research area aligned with the paradigm see-to-communicate and communicate-to-see“.

Over the next three years, researchers will combine data generated by radio-frequency communications systems and video cameras to “obtain new datasets that will be made openly available to the scientific community, promoting the creation of new knowledge and new discoveries“.

“The communication systems that will operate in higher radio frequency bands will depend much more on line-of-sight to work”, says Luís Pessoa, project coordinator.

The tools will provide the scientific community with a series of exclusive and open data but also “improve the competitiveness” of the research infrastructures and companies involved.

Also cited in a statement released by INESC TEC, researcher Manuel Ricardo states that “a community of thousands of users” may take advantage of “the results of CONVERGE in the next 10 years”.

The development of new areas of research, new industrial applications capable of combining video, sensing, radio and data traffic information, and the improvement of skills of employees, students and users of the research infrastructures are some of the project’s objectives.

Healthcare, industry, automotive, telecommunications and audiovisual content distribution services are the “main beneficiaries” of the research supported by the tools to be developed.

In health, the tools may help in the “automatic evaluation of patients’ posture and prosthesis alignment in physical rehabilitation”, in industry to a “better understanding of the factory floor” and in the automotive sector in the “improvement in the perception of the vehicle’s surrounding environment, as well as external conditions that may affect autonomous driving”.

Coordinated by the Porto Institute, the CONVERGE project has 15 partners from six countries (Portugal, Finland, Spain, France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America).

Besides INESC TEC, the Portuguese institutions ALLBESMART and Adapttech are also part of the project.

LUSA’s report today does not dwell on any of the potential disadvantages of 6G which telecoms sites stress will almost certainly require higher energy costs and could lead to abuses of power…

Telecom talk, for example, a site run out of India, points out that the increased speeds and reliability of 6G networks will require more energy, which could lead to higher energy costs for users. Additionally, the costs associated with building and maintaining 6G networks could be prohibitively expensive for some countries and regions. Finally, there is the potential for 6G networks to be used for surveillance and other nefarious purposes. This could lead to an increase in digital privacy issues and potential abuses of power.

Source material: LUSA