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Teenagers Now Text Friends More Than Phone Them

The median number of texts for teenage girls is 100 per day

2 min read
Teenagers Now Text Friends More Than Phone Them

The Pew Research Center yesterday released an updated study of teenagers and how they communicate that shows that 63 percent of teenagers now text every day, and that the median number sent per day has risen from 50 in 2009 to 60 today. For teenage girls, the median number is now 100 texts a day, while for boys it is about half that number.

The Pew study is part of the  Pew Internet & American Life Project  which investigates "the social impact of the Internet, focusing on topics including health, teens, and broadband."

The Pew study states that texting now "far surpasses the frequency with which [teens] pick other forms of daily communication, including phone calling by cell phone (39 percent do that with others every day), face-to-face socializing outside of school (35 percent), social network site messaging (29 percent), instant messaging (22 percent), talking on landlines (19 percent) and emailing (6 percent)."

The study also states that some 14% of the teens they interviewed talk daily with their friends using a landline, down from 30% who said they did in 2009. The fraction of teens say they never use a landline phone to talk to their friends is up to 31 percent, presumably in part because some 77 percent of teenagers now own a cellphone, with more than a third of those being smartphones.

Technology is advancing so quickly that the categories between these modes of communication are blurring into one another and you have to wonder if Pew will even be able to conduct this research in future years without restructuring it. Apple's iMessage service sends text messages to other users that bypass the phone company's SMS servers. At Google as well, the overlap between chat, e-mail, and Google+ messaging, is substantial. And on Facebook, there's no difference at all between e-mail and chat.

In the short term, though, Pew's findings will no doubt add more fuel to the fire about mobile devices and distracted driving.

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Metamaterials Could Solve One of 6G’s Big Problems

There’s plenty of bandwidth available if we use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces

12 min read
An illustration depicting cellphone users at street level in a city, with wireless signals reaching them via reflecting surfaces.

Ground level in a typical urban canyon, shielded by tall buildings, will be inaccessible to some 6G frequencies. Deft placement of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces [yellow] will enable the signals to pervade these areas.

Chris Philpot

For all the tumultuous revolution in wireless technology over the past several decades, there have been a couple of constants. One is the overcrowding of radio bands, and the other is the move to escape that congestion by exploiting higher and higher frequencies. And today, as engineers roll out 5G and plan for 6G wireless, they find themselves at a crossroads: After years of designing superefficient transmitters and receivers, and of compensating for the signal losses at the end points of a radio channel, they’re beginning to realize that they are approaching the practical limits of transmitter and receiver efficiency. From now on, to get high performance as we go to higher frequencies, we will need to engineer the wireless channel itself. But how can we possibly engineer and control a wireless environment, which is determined by a host of factors, many of them random and therefore unpredictable?

Perhaps the most promising solution, right now, is to use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces. These are planar structures typically ranging in size from about 100 square centimeters to about 5 square meters or more, depending on the frequency and other factors. These surfaces use advanced substances called metamaterials to reflect and refract electromagnetic waves. Thin two-dimensional metamaterials, known as metasurfaces, can be designed to sense the local electromagnetic environment and tune the wave’s key properties, such as its amplitude, phase, and polarization, as the wave is reflected or refracted by the surface. So as the waves fall on such a surface, it can alter the incident waves’ direction so as to strengthen the channel. In fact, these metasurfaces can be programmed to make these changes dynamically, reconfiguring the signal in real time in response to changes in the wireless channel. Think of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces as the next evolution of the repeater concept.

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