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6G: Not just another G

The Network Effect | Episode 02

6G promises to deliver way more than just speed. Peter Vetter, President of Bell Labs' Core Research discusses how sensing will transform the network, business, and the world.

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6G: Not just another G

The second episode of the Network Effect sees Peter Vetter, President of Bell Labs’ Core Research, discuss the exponential potential of 6G.

How do space ships in science fiction sense “lifeforms” on a planet? Maybe they’re using 6G? In this episode of "The Network Effect," we delve into the groundbreaking potential of the next generation technology with Peter Vetter, President of Bell Labs' Core Research. Vetter's insights reveal how 6G aims to fuse the digital and physical worlds, opening up new possibilities for advanced sensing and communication, and maybe will power the 23rd century.

The discussion quickly moves to how 6G technology, still in its nascent stages, could revolutionize our interaction with the environment in the 21st century.  "What I see happen in five years from now is an increased digital-physical fusion," Vetter says. "The fusion of digital and physical worlds will allow us to have a better understanding of what's happening in the physical world and then anticipate possible needs and augment human capabilities." This concept of digital-physical fusion means that 6G will enable technologies that blend our digital experiences seamlessly with the physical world, enhancing our abilities to interact with and understand our surroundings.

"One new capability that we are exploring with 6G is the opportunity to not only communicate or use the radio channel for communication, but also use it as a sensor," Vetter explains. This means that the same technology that transmits data can also detect objects and movements, much like radar, but without impairing communication quality.

In factories, for instance, 6G could enable robots to detect human workers, reducing accidents and increasing productivity. "That's indeed the idea," Vetter confirms, "Reuse sensors, so to speak, radio bases that are already installed there."

Vetter also discusses how 6G's sensing capabilities could transform healthcare by allowing remote monitoring of patients with unprecedented precision, even detecting breathing patterns. "You're telling me that 6G has the ability to tell when I'm inhaling my breath and exhaling? It's that sensitive?" our host Michael Hainsworth asks. "Yes!," Vetter exclaims, explaining that while it may not be medical-grade, it can provide a basic level of monitoring.

Vetter, while holding the world’s first 1G cellphone, acknowledges that the inspiration is drawn from science fiction, noting, "Science fiction is often a source of inspiration for making things real." The potential of 6G to transform our world is immense. With AI-driven networks capable of sensing and adapting in real-time, our interaction with technology will reach new heights.