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What 5G Engineers Can Learn from Radio Interference’s Troubled Past

Radio interference is an old problem, but 5G and other forms of digital radio may tackle it in new ways

12 min read
Image showing interfering emanations from wireless audiovisual transmitters.
We’re Jammin’, Jammin’: A clean signal for 802.11b Wi-Fi communications (top) shows radio power arrayed in broad humps around various Wi-Fi channels (1 through 14) But Wi-Fi has to contend with interfering emanations from such things as wireless audiovisual transmitters (middle) and microwave ovens (bottom).
Image: MetaGeek

The last—and only—radio innovator having no reason to think about interference was Heinrich Hertz, when he fired up the world’s first radio transmitter in 1886. Once he turned on a second one, he created the potential for interference. It’s been a problem ever since.

Indeed, the problem is now acute and could easily get much worse. That’s because 5G [pdf] mobile data service is on the way, promising as much as gigabit-per-second data connections over short distances. In advance of the 5G rollout, which should begin around 2020, engineers are working through all the usual concerns, including frequency choices, propagation, reliability, and battery life—plus one more: keeping transmissions from millions of very small, very mobile radios from interfering with one another. If these engineers don’t solve this problem, digital services on your phone won’t be much better than they are now.

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Video Friday: Humanoid Soccer

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
Humans and human-size humanoid robots stand together on an indoor soccer field at the beginning of a game

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
ICRA 2023: 29 May–2 June 2023, LONDON

Enjoy today’s videos!

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Computing With Chemicals Makes Faster, Leaner AI

Battery-inspired artificial synapses are gaining ground

5 min read
Array of devices on a chip

This analog electrochemical memory (ECRAM) array provides a prototype for artificial synapses in AI training.

IBM research

How far away could an artificial brain be? Perhaps a very long way off still, but a working analogue to the essential element of the brain’s networks, the synapse, appears closer at hand now.

That’s because a device that draws inspiration from batteries now appears surprisingly well suited to run artificial neural networks. Called electrochemical RAM (ECRAM), it is giving traditional transistor-based AI an unexpected run for its money—and is quickly moving toward the head of the pack in the race to develop the perfect artificial synapse. Researchers recently reported a string of advances at this week’s IEEE International Electron Device Meeting (IEDM 2022) and elsewhere, including ECRAM devices that use less energy, hold memory longer, and take up less space.

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Accelerate the Future of Innovation

Download these free whitepapers to learn more about emerging technologies like 5G, 6G, and quantum computing

1 min read

Looking for help with technical challenges related to emerging technologies like 5G, 6G, and quantum computing?

Download these three whitepapers to help inspire and accelerate your future innovations:

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