AT&T is unveiling its 5G road map to bring customers the next-generation of super-fast, flexible wireless connectivity. They plan to collaborate with Ericsson and Intel to work on 5G solutions in their labs starting in the second quarter of this year, with outdoor tests and trials over the summer. More importantly, they fully expect field trials of 5G technologies to provide wireless connectivity to fixed locations in Austin before the end of this year.
AT&T next-gen 5G-service is expected to deliver speeds 10-100 times faster than today's average 4G LTE connections. Customers will see speeds measured in gigabits per second, not megabits. For reference, at one gigabit per second, you can download a TV show in less than 3 seconds.
John Donovan, Chief Strategy Officer and Group President, AT&T Technology and Operations stated that "New experiences like virtual reality, self-driving cars, robotics, smart cities and more are about to test networks like never before. These technologies will be immersive, pervasive and responsive to customers. 5G will help make them a reality.
The timing of the news that Apple has assembled a top tier VR team would indicate that Apple is preparing to take advantage of the advancements that 5G networks will be bringing to market. It may also be something that Apple's 'Titan' team may be working on around the clock.
Another technology that will benefit from 5G networks is automatic speech recognition (ASR) that will be able to take Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana and Amazon's Alexa to a whole new level, according to Counterpoint, an independent market research firm.
Counterpoint noted that Apple's acquisition and commercialization of Siri was catalytic in giving ASR a larger user base and more awareness. Google's Now, Microsoft's Cortana and Amazon's Alexa have benefited both from Siri's front running.
ASR is primarily used to perform basic operations like device navigation, internet search, setting up a reminder etc. as a part of smartphone's utility tools. However, ASR integration into connected devices with cloud based infrastructure and seamless integration through 5G network will revive its real value.
Integration of natural language processing capacity and predictive analytics will push ASR solutions from a simple assistant to something closer to an efficient consultant for the user. Up-coming ecosystems around wearables and artificial intelligent will drive the ASR usability in next few years to become one of the key user interface options of next generation devices.
In the IoT space, speech recognition can be utilized in smart homes to control HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning), lighting, entertainment and other connected devices. In order to achieve this, the device interface will require development particularly in relation to microphone position and performance.
This particular revelation is fascinating as it directly ties into our IP report published on Thursday titled "Apple Invents a Next-Generation 3D 'Sessionless Pointing User Interface.'" The patent covered a new interface using in-air gestures to control air conditioning, lighting and beyond. Apple could easily adapt this to work with Siri as well as we noted in a December report covering a Siri powering future Home Automation.
Another point noted in the Counterpoint report noted above was microphone positioning on devices like a smartphone and we noted in a report earlier this month that the iPhone 6s is one of the few smartphones that now has four microphones. This is likely preparing the groundwork for future iPhone advances for Siri.
Counterpoint's report further noted that the smartphone space will remain a key consumer of ASR; it can act as one point of differentiation where there are few others. Efficient microphones with associated noise cancelling technologies are coming to market that can have a transformative effect on the usability of ASR. Amazon's Echo device has demonstrated a remarkable ability to 'hear' instructions even in noisy environments. Players like Kopin that showcased its "Whisper Voice Chip" at CES, which can detect the slightest voice input despite high levels of background noise.
Amazon's Echo differs from smartphone implementations of ASR because voice control is Echo's main function. It acts secondarily as a loudspeaker. For other devices – whether a smartphone or a smart car, acting as a voice-driven assistant is currently a second-order function.
However, with the development of technology around the ASR value chain, the role of an intelligent agent can become a primary feature. Counterpoint believes that this will be important in the further development of IoT, smart cars and other applications. Counterpoint believes that ASR is going to be one of the Next Big Things.