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5G gets WIVE boost

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Several groups in Finland have established the WIreless for VErticals which is designed to make new industries to gain competitive advantages from the latest wireless technologies, especially 5G.

An industry group led by Nokia Bell Labs and including several academics in Finland has established a collaboration project called WIVE (WIreless for VErticals) to make it possible for new types of industries to gain competitive advantage from the latest wireless technologies, especially 5G. The project, co-funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation (Tekes), involves several industry, research institute and academic partners such as Nokia, Teleste, Telia, ABB, Cargotec Kalmar, Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle), Digita, regulator FICORA, key Finnish universities as well as VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

Over the next 10 years, tens of billions of connected devices are expected to converge into intelligent and programmable systems that will improve lives in a vast number of areas. Transportation and resource consumption, learning and work, and treatment of health and wellness will all be affected by this change, which will bring massive opportunities for these industries but also new capacity requirements for networks.

The WIVE project, which is planned to run for 2 years, will focus on the needs of the following vertical sectors.

· Media and entertainment (M&E)

· Machine-type connectivity for application areas, including:

·Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC), serving sectors like smart grids and remotely controlled machines

· Massive Machine Type Connectivity (mMTC), allowing a high number of devices to be connected with limited cost and energy consumption.

WIVE aims to develop concepts and enable technologies, as well as to test and experiment new vertical services offered by 5G, especially for URLLC, mMTC, and media content delivery. These new communication services have versatile requirements for reliability, latency, data rates, security and availability. The WIVE project aims to demonstrate that these requirements can be fulfilled with future 5G networks with improved flexibility and cost-efficiency.

The WIVE project implements vertical service pilots based on industry driven use cases on the top of 5GTNF testbeds (e.g. TAKE-5 and 5GTN+), and tests new vertical services and applications in a realistic testing environment (out of the laboratory) to discover possible technical and business opportunities and constraints associated with new technologies to speed up the roll out of new 5G vertical services.

Spectrum is one of the key enablers for the exploitation of the full innovation potential of 5G. Therefore, WIVE is taking an active role in investigating and promoting flexible spectrum policies and spectrum management schemes to unlock new spectrum assets for 5G.

A vital part of WIVE is also the focus on users and identifying business opportunities for different verticals. 5G enables innovative service concepts and business cases across industries, as devices and machines are increasingly connected, paving the way for new business models and markets to emerge in the connected world. WIVE takes content consumption patterns and routines among end-users into account when exploring new business opportunities and scenarios for 5G.

“Industry collaboration is essential in fostering innovation around 5G, and for enabling different industries to take full advantage of the faster connections that 5G promises. Nokia Bell Labs has a strong focus on ultra reliable, low latency communications targeting new wireless communication systems for verticals, and the WIVE project provides us with greater insight into the requirements and opportunities for experimentation to test our solutions,” said the industrial coordinator of the project, Mikko Uusitalo, head of wireless advanced technologies research at Nokia.

“Deep understanding of the needs of different verticals and the variety of 5G user contexts is in the core of our business. We are looking at evolving media consumption patterns and developing revolutionary spectator experiences, for example at Telia 5G Arena in Helsinki and as part of our agreement for Finnish Ice Hockey League media rights. Machine-type connectivity and ultra-reliable communications are just as crucial for building smarter traffic, manufacturing solutions and other digitalization initiatives, which are topical for our B2B customers,” said Janne Koistinen, director of Telia 5G program in Finland.

“The number of connected devices in the Internet of Everything era will pose new challenges to future networks from interoperability, scalability and reliability perspectives. WIVE has a lot to contribute here as part of, and in collaboration with, the 5G Test Network Finland – on top of the media business transformation activities bridging the work from preceding research activities in the FUHF (Future of UHF) project,” said program manager Mika Klemettinen from Tekes.

“A substantially higher level of automation, together with reliable, low-latency communication between nodes in a power distribution grid, are prerequisites to improving the reliability of supply and integrating a large amount of distributed, renewable and intermittent generation. The development of energy policies, legislation and regulation all drive smarter and greener grids, and the transition will be facilitated by new technologies, such as 5G,” said Dick Kronman, manager of ABB’s Grid Automation Solutions business. “We will adapt our most advanced smart grid applications to a 5G test network as a benchmark. Collaboration within the consortium and practical tests will give us a comprehensive understanding of the Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC) capabilities of 5G and new business opportunities,” said Petri Hovila, program manager at ABB’s Medium Voltage Products unit in Finland.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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