2021 Tech Innovation Predictions
Now that 2021 has arrived, it’s time to share my tech innovation predictions for the year. Watch the video below to find out what you can expect to see this year.
Subscribe to our blog to see how CableLabs enables innovation.
2020 Tech Innovation Predictions
Now that 2020 has arrived, it’s time to share my tech innovation predictions for the year. Watch the video below to find out what you can expect to see this year.
What are your innovation predictions for 2020? Tell us in the comment section below. Best wishes for a great new year!
Subscribe to our blog to see how CableLabs enables innovation.
ChirpStack: The New Open Source LoRa Server
Over the past couple of years, CableLabs and Orne Brocaar have introduced multiple major releases of the LoRa® Server, a community led open source LoRaWAN® network server. The goal of this effort is to provide a powerful tool for enabling LPWAN services using unlicensed bands worldwide. The server is licensed under the MIT license, so it can be used freely for any use from testing to production. Our objective continues to focus on enabling growth and creativity in the LPWAN ecosystem using the LoRaWAN protocol.
We are excited to announce that LoRa Server has been renamed ChirpStack™. What does this rebranding mean for our community of users? Well, nothing really, with exception of assuming a new name. The server continues to provide the functions, capability, LoRa Alliance® compliance and MIT licensing it always has. However, the name and URL location of the resources has changed.
Since its debut in 2016, the LoRa Server project has gained a lot of traction and is now being used by thousands of users from (currently) 144 countries around the world. And, we fully expect the ChirpStack project will continue to serve this user base with valuable tools, software, and discussion.
“Solutions built on Semtech’s LoRa devices offer the real potential to change the world by delivering analytical insight into how we live and work today. To create a smarter tomorrow, developers working with LoRa devices and the LoRaWAN protocol need access to easy-to-use accelerators that help drive applications to market more quickly,” said Alistair Fulton, Vice President and General Manager of Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Products Group. “CableLabs and its ChirpStack software have contributed to the growth of LoRaWAN, creating value to the ecosystem by helping to simplify the IoT development process and enable the creation of new, innovative products for the next generation of use cases.”
We have automated the renaming process in the lastest version as much as possible, and we hope this migration will only be a nominal inconvenience. A full list of considerations and changes have been provided on the forum. If you experience any challenges with this migration, please communicate issues and feedback on the forum.
In the latest release(s) you will find a lot of interesting new features. Using NetID filters it is possible to reduce the bandwidth usage of your gateways. This is useful when you are using a cellular backhaul. We have also made it easier to correlate log messages across the different components, which will help when troubleshooting issues as they occur. To increase the geolocation accuracy, we have added support to perform geolocation on multiple uplink frames. We will continue to improve and add new features and we are looking forward to your feedback and contributions to the ChirpStack project.
Note: LoRa is a registered trademark or service mark of Semtech Corporation or its affiliates.
Immersive Media Experiences Reaches New Milestones
In April this year, CableLabs joined Charter Communications, Light Field Lab, OTOY, Visby, and Cox Communications to establish the Immersive Media Experiences Alliance™ (IDEA). The primary purpose of this endeavor is to develop a set of royalty-free standard specifications for immersive media formatting and distribution. This month, several significant milestones were achieved:
- IDEA released its first set of draft specifications for public review,
- CableLabs hosted the Light Field and Holographic Display Summit, and
- IDEA demonstrated the first Immersive Technology Media Format™ (ITMF) content across multiple display types
IDEA Releases Draft Specifications
Based on OTOY’s ORBX format, the Immersive Technology Media Forma (ITMF) is a display-agnostic interchange format for conveying light field imagery to a variety of display types, including light field displays. IDEA has released three draft specifications so far to document this media format: the Scene Graph Specification, the Container Specification and the Data Encoding Specification. As noted, these are draft specifications and there is still work to do in the areas of display profiles, live action capture and representation, as well as media-aware network streaming. We encourage interested stakeholders to join IDEA and help shape the future of immersive media.
CableLabs Hosts the Light Field and Holographic Display Summit
This year’s Light Field and Holographic Display Summit, produced by Insight Media, was hosted by CableLabs in Louisville, Colorado in early October. The two-day event covered not only display technology but the entire light field and holographic ecosystem. CableLabs, as a founding member of IDEA, is very interested in facilitating the acceleration of this ecosystem and envisions the 10G cable network technologies will enable the delivery of holographic experiences to consumer’s homes.
The agenda was full of many interesting sessions and thought-provoking panels representing 22 different companies in this space, including talks from these IDEA founders:
- Pete Lude, Chairman of IDEA and CableLabs IDEA Board Director, provided an overview of Light Field Immersive Media and an introduction to the Immersive Digital Experiences Alliance.
- Jon Karafin, CEO of Light Field Lab, presented an overview of the latest developments in light field display technologies.
- Ryan Damm, CEO of Visby, discussed how to get real-world footage onto these next-gen displays.
- Jules Urbach, CEO of OTOY, addressed synthetic media development and formats.
- Curtis Knittle, VP of Wired Technologies at CableLabs, discussed how cable 10G networks are evolving to carry light field data.
The takeaway from the summit was that there is significant activity, interest, and exciting developments in this space, both for commercial as well as military applications. As we heard Tony Werner, President of Comcast, exclaim during the most recent SCTE CableTec Expo General Session, “Holographic displays are coming sooner than we may think”! Comcast, along with Liberty Global Ventures, Samsung, Verizon Ventures, and others were recently part of a $28 million round of funding raised by Light Field Lab.
IDEA Demonstrates First ITMF Content Across Multiple Display Types
One of the main objectives of the IDEA Immersive Technology Media Format (ITMF) is to make it display-agnostic so that it can be created and stored in one format and rendered out to support multiple types of displays, including traditional 2D flat panels, virtual reality head-mounted displays, and glasses-free light field displays. Only months after IDEA was launched, members of IDEA demonstrated this concept with content created in the ITMF format and played out on an Oculus Go VR headset, a standard 2D television, and a 3D TV with active glasses.
Although the Immersive Digital Experiences Alliance has only been established for a few months, these milestones demonstrate exciting progress in this space. And the alliance is just getting started! IDEA welcomes service providers, content producers, technologists and creative visionaries to join IDEA and define the media and distribution formats of the future.
Behind the Tech: Near Future. Diverse Thinkers Wanted.
During Summer Conference, we released Diverse Thinkers Wanted, the fourth Near Future film—this one about the ways we’ll all be working a few years from now. Just like the previous three films, Diverse Thinkers Wanted highlights how advancements in cable technology can affect the way we interact with other people and the world around us—but this time in a professional capacity. The film explores multiple future technologies that can eventually help us become better, faster and smarter versions of ourselves, enhancing our creative problem solving, time management and collaboration skills.
On-Call Mixed Reality
Our eyeglasses and other wearables will be outfitted with connected mixed reality (MR) tech that can display a variety of useful and timely information about everything we see. This will give new meaning to the term “plugged in” at work.
Public Light Field
Public Light Field technology will allow multiple users to sign in and share information in a virtual 3D space or take part in private discussions through a secure channel if they need to. Thanks to this tech, working from home or another location will be easier than ever.
Autonomous Taxi Fleet
We envision a future, just a few years away, where a connected autonomous taxi service is instantly available to safely take you from point A to point B no matter where you are. Beats trying to get an Uber during rush hour!
The traditional video telepresence solutions available today will be enhanced with MR and holographic technologies that will allow you and your team to be exponentially more productive, leaving less room for misunderstandings and more room for creativity.
Next-generation AI applications can help you make the right decisions more quickly than ever. They can continuously listen for context and adapt to your needs as time goes by. Eventually, these tools will know what you need when you need it, without your explicit instructions. This tech will be very handy when you’re in a time crunch.
Holo-rooms are gathering spaces that include the latest holographic tech such as light field displays, light field rooms and volumetric light field tables. They’re perfect for running “virtual” meetings where all the participants feel as if they’re in the same room even if they’re miles apart.
Future innovations will allow you to do things you’ve never been able to do before, such as moving virtual objects with the gaze of your eyes. This type of tech can revolutionize the workforce by creating exciting new opportunities and even entire new fields of work.
Affordable Light Field Units
As light field technology becomes more mainstream, it will become more affordable, allowing manufacturers to create a variety of products for use at home, work and in public places, such as museums and bus stops. Soon, it will become one of the most effective ways to convey information.
The Near Future. Diverse Thinkers Wanted: 10 Fun Facts
This week, at our Summer Conference, we released a short film titled The Near Future. Diverse Thinkers Wanted. The fourth installment in our Near Future series focusing on light field technology, mixed reality and AI, the film highlights how our broadband networks and increased connectivity keeps everyone in the workplace seamlessly connected and more creative. Here are ten fun facts about our film:
- The autonomous cars in the film appear to have no steering wheel. This was achieved by using real cars with steering wheels and producing carefully mirrored shots: the set, costumes, props and stage direction were all mirrored, and the shot was then flipped in post-production, creating a realistic autonomous car driver-side with no steering wheel.
- The lead actress ran so much in the film that she had to use two sets of shoes to avoid blisters. In shots that showed her feet, she used her costume’s business shoes; in other shots, she used running shoes.
- The opening chase scene from the café to the cars took more than 20 takes to get everything shot properly from every angle. Both actors were exhausted but happy to add a chase scene to their acting experience.
- The café in the film does not exist. Every table, chair, cup, painting and every other prop was brought into an empty retail space that was built (art designed) as a café. Two days after it was built, the whole thing was taken down, leaving only an empty retail space again.
- The holographic video content in the autonomous car assumes that the windshield glass works with the dashboard element to generate the media. The producers initially thought that glass light field technology was “too sci-fi,” but it passed due to the availability of existing glass displays.
- One day of shooting happened at a college, and parking had to be coordinated on narrow campus grounds. While one of the red “autonomous” cars was being parked, it hit a concrete corner of an outdoor seating area, which ripped through the metal of the car’s passenger side door. Nobody was hurt, and thankfully the car scene had already been shot.
- The set for the quadriplegic was actually an office kitchen that was converted into a home space. Every item in the office kitchen was taken out, and every prop—including tables and chairs in the background, and item on the wall of the set—was brought in and designed to look like a home. After shooting, it was all torn down and the office kitchen was put back together exactly as it was.
- Several quadriplegics were auditioned for the part, but the actor who got the part is not disabled. He said that being able to move only his eyes and face was one of the hardest acting challenges he’s ever had.
- The Holo-Room was designed and mostly constructed beforehand. It was designed to be moved piece by piece into an office space for quick construction. It was moved in and built in 1 day and then torn down.
- The film was shot entirely in San Diego, marking the first time a Near Future film had no scenes filmed in the Bay Area.
Just Released: A New “Near Future” Film Takes a Look at How Innovation Will Affect the Way You Work
This week, CableLabs released the fourth installment in its Near Future series. Titled The Near Future: Diverse Thinkers Wanted, this short film explores the aspect of life that takes up most of our time and energy: work. Have you ever wondered what a typical day at the office might be like in a decade? Will a 9-to-5 workday still exist, or will the technology of tomorrow redefine the concept of work as we know it? Let’s take a closer look.
The Future Vision
The film’s narrative is centered on Nikki, an ambitious go-getter who’s about to deliver an important presentation. But as often happens in the world of business, things don’t go exactly as planned and Nikki is faced with a number of seemingly insurmountable challenges.
Fortunately, she has all the tools she needs to not only solve every problem but to do so without ever slowing down. On-call mixed reality apps and helpful light field displays provide the information she needs. An autonomous taxi is always there to take her anywhere she wants to go. Layered videoconferencing solutions and holographic telepresence technology help her maintain continuous contact with her team. And an ever-present AI assistant takes care of everything else, from confirming appointment details to booking a holo-room, in seconds.
Thanks to all this advanced tech at her fingertips, Nikki has the opportunity to be her best, most creative and efficient self, and to make smart, calculated decisions without ever losing focus. Not everyone’s workday will resemble Nikki’s, but this kind of technological advancement is certain to have a profound effect on the way we approach our daily tasks, conduct meetings and solve problems in the near future, no matter what line of work we’re in.
Technologies That Will Help Us Get There
The technology shown in the film will shape the way we think about work in the future. Powered by a multi-gigabit super network of tomorrow, it will create a more efficient, productive and creative work environment that will help us perform at our best. For example, technology can be used to:
- Manage our time better: Picture a world where you don’t waste half your morning resolving calendar conflicts or worrying about logistics. How much more would you be able to get done in a day? According to Accenture, technologies such as Nikki’s ear-piece AI assistant are projected to increase labor productivity by up to 40 percent, enabling you to make more efficient use of your time.
- Access the information we need, whenever we need it: A lot of workplace slowdowns occur because of missing or inadequate information. How much more productive do you think you’d be if all the information you ever needed was readily available to you? In the film, Nikki’s eyeglasses have built-in mixed-reality tech that overlays street addresses and other data on top of everything she sees, allowing her to make critical decisions on the go.
- Collaborate more efficiently, from anywhere: To accommodate a more talented and diverse workforce, businesses around the world are seeking advanced remote collaboration solutions that allow their teams to seamlessly interact as if they’re physically present at the same location. In the film, we explore a few ideas about how this might work, including layered videoconferencing technology that combines traditional video with mixed and virtual reality, public light field tables and holographic telepresence systems (holo-rooms), where Nikki’s entire team gathers to work on a common project.
- Enhance our skills and abilities: According to the World Economic Forum, 65 percent of children now entering elementary school will hold jobs that currently don’t exist. This is partially due to technologies like alternative interfacing, which gave Nikki’s coworker the ability to manipulate virtual objects with the movement of his eyes. This type of new and exciting technology will drive the need for more interesting and fulfilling jobs—and redefine the nature of work as we know it.
- Focus on creative solutions: According to McKinsey, 50 percent of current work activities are automatable, and the demand for skills like creativity, critical thinking, decision making and complex information processing is projected to grow 19 percent in the United States by 2030. Outsourcing some of the boring and mundane tasks—such as double-checking locations, hailing a cab or booking a room—to machines will free up more of our brainpower for a whole new level of creativity and imagination.
Although we’re not yet in Nikki’s world, we’re well on our way. The 10G platform will set the foundation for many of these technologies, enabling app developers and entrepreneurs to innovate without worrying about the speed, capacity and latency restrictions they had to deal with in the past. Take a look for yourself! You can view the film in its entirety below.
Innovation Journeys: 10G is new. We have been working on it for years.
You may have noticed that CableLabs is focused on innovation. One of our goals is to be recognized as the leading industry innovation lab in the world but talking about our innovation can be a bit tricky. Our job is to deliver innovation for the worldwide cable industry, but we can’t really talk about what we are working on now. We need to keep that secret for our member companies (cable operators) until the technology is ready to launch.
Our CEO, Phil McKinney has talked about how innovation is messy. Where you start may not be where you end up. I want to tell you about the path that led to one of our most important innovations--and part of our 10G platform. Low latency.
Our Low Latency Journey
We started on this journey over four years ago, with a challenge question (Focus in the FIRE methodology): What applications will drive a need for 60Mbps+ of sustained Internet bandwidth? That led to ideation sessions that unearthed the usual suspects: Internet of Things (billions of sensors, but each with such low bandwidth that they still don’t add up to much), 4K streaming video (good try, but still only 15Mbps or less), “Big Data” (sorry, not really a candidate for consumer households). Those applications didn’t quite answer the question.
But the emergence of 360° immersive video looked promising. Experiencing some of the earliest 360° video at the beginning of 2014 (shot on 6 Go-Pro’s, manually stitched) on a low-resolution Oculus Development Kit Virtual Reality headset got us thinking about where the technology might lead. Six 4K videos, streamed to the headset met the challenge of over 60Mbps, although compression gains would reduce the bandwidth and resolution increases would increase it.
Rather than “geeking out” on the technical possibilities, we followed advice from Phil: “Talk to consumers!” In February of 2015, we did primary research, bringing 50 varied members of the public into CableLabs to try out “immersive video content.” Rather than just focusing on virtual reality (VR) headsets, we constructed some other ways of consuming the content, such as immersive multi- 4K TV displays, ultra-wide projectors, tablets and regular TVs. We needed to understand whether “regular humans” (not geeks) would like these technologies.
The consumer research was massively informative. We shared the insights with our member companies at the time and realized that this ecosystem was likely to take off. We stepped back and tried to work out other mass-market use cases for VR.
We pivoted. We started to look at the possibilities of transforming how people communicate, and the ability to have holographic telepresence using digital human technology to perform digital headset removal. We don’t really want to talk to another person and see that person with a headset on; we want to see other people eye to eye and have them see us eye to eye. To prove the point, later in 2015 and into early 2016 we developed eye and mouth tracking capabilities that we added to a wireless VR headset and developed a digital human avatar of one of our staff.
We linked the head, eye and mouth tracking to real-time control of the digital avatar.
And in May of 2016 we demonstrated this to our board of directors.
We also found that realistic digital human avatars take LOTS of compute to render in real time, and that required a tethered PC. Even as mobile processors get faster and more capable, PC graphics will always be faster and more capable, due to their power budget. Phones get hot when you try to render realistic humans. To get to mass-market adoption, we need to go wireless and move the PC out of the home.
No Less Than a Revolution
VR needs incredibly low latency between head movement and the delivery of new pixels to your eyes, or you start to feel nauseated. To move the PC out of the home, we need to make the communications over the cable network be a millisecond or less round trip. But our DOCSIS® technology at the time could not deliver that.
So, we pivoted again. Since 2016, CableLabs DOCSIS architects Greg White and Karthik Sundaresan have been focused on revolutionizing DOCSIS technology to support sub-1ms latency. Although VR is still struggling to gain widespread adoption, that low and reliable DOCSIS latency will be a boon to gamers in the short term and will enable split rendering of VR and augmented reality (AR) in the longer term. The specifications for Low Latency DOCSIS (as a software upgrade to existing DOCSIS 3.1 equipment) have been released, and we’re working with the equipment suppliers to get this out into the market and to realize the gains of a somewhat torturous innovation journey.
Low latency is a key component of our 10G initiative. You can read more about the importance of latency here, and gain access both to a technical brief (members only) and to a detailed report (members only) on Wi-Fi latency in retail Wi-Fi routers.
An IDEA is Born: CableLabs Heads Up New Alliance That Will Bring Holodecks Into Your Living Room
CableLabs has joined forces with top players in cutting-edge media technology—Charter Communications, Light Field Lab, OTOY and Visby—to form the Immersive Digital Experiences Alliance (IDEA). Chaired by CableLabs’ Principal Architect and Futurist, Arianne Hinds, the alliance aims to facilitate the development of an end-to-end ecosystem for immersive media, including VR, AR, stereoscopic 3D and the much-talked-about light field holodeck, by creating a suite of display-agnostic, royalty-free specifications. Although the work is already well underway, the official IDEA launch event was on April 8 at the 2019 NAB Show. Learn more about it here.
IDEA’s Challenges: What problems do we want to solve?
Advancements in immersive media offer endless opportunities not only in gaming and entertainment but also in telemedicine, education, business and personal communication and many other areas that we haven’t even begun to explore. It’s an exciting technological frontier that always gets a lot of buzz at tech expos and industry conferences. The question now is not if, but when is it going to become reality and what are the steps to getting there?
Despite numerous innovation leaps in VR and AR in recent years, the immersive media industry as a whole is still in its very early stages. Light field technology, the richest and most dense form of immersive media that allows the user to view and interact with a three-dimensional object in volumetric space, is particularly limited by the shortcomings of the existing video interchange standards.
- Problem #1: Too much data
A photorealistic, volumetric video requires substantially more data than the traditional 2D media we’re used to today. In order to deliver a truly seamless and lifelike immersive experience, we need to take a different approach for an interoperable media format and network delivery.
- Problem #2: Inadequate Network Ecosystem
There’s currently no common media format for storage, distribution and display of immersive images. We’ll need to build a media-aware network that’s fully optimized for the new generation of immersive entertainment.
IDEA’s Goals: How will we address these problems?
IDEA is already working on the first version of the Immersive Technologies Media Format (ITMF), a display-agnostic set of specifications for representation of immersive media. ITMF is based on OTOY’s well-established ORBX Scene Graph format currently used in 3D animation.
The initial draft of ITMF, scheduled for release by the end of 2019, will meet the following criteria:
- It will be royalty-free and open source
- It will be built on established technologies already embraced by content creators
- It will be unconstrained by legacy raster-based 2D approaches
- It will allow for continued improvements and advancements
- It will address real-life requirements based on input from content creators, technology manufacturers and network operators.
In addition to the development of the ITMF standard, IDEA will also:
- Gather marketplace and technical requirements to define and support new specifications
- Facilitate interoperability testing and demonstration of immersive technologies in order to gain industry feedback
- Produce immersive media educational events and materials
- Provide a forum for the exchange of information and news relevant to the immersive media ecosystem, open to international participation of all interested parties
IDEA’s New Chairperson: A Woman With a 3D Vision
IDEA’s newly-elected chairperson, Dr. Arianne Hinds, joined CableLabs in 2012 as a Principal Architect of Video & Standards Strategy. A VR futurist, innovator and inventor, she has over 25 years of experience in areas of image and video compression, including MPEG and JPEG. Dr. Hinds has won numerous industry awards, including the prestigious 2017 WICT Rocky Mountain Woman in Technology Award. She is the Chair for the U.S. delegation to MPEG and is currently serving as the Chairperson of the L3.1 Committee for United States MPEG Development Activity for the International Committee for Information Technology Standards. Her new responsibilities at IDEA are a natural extension of her life’s work, perfectly aligned with the IDEA’s mission to bring the beautiful world of immersive media technology into the mainstream.
The 10G platform positions cable operators as the first commercial network service providers to support truly immersive services beyond the limits of legacy 2D video. With its ability to deliver up to 10Gbps while at the same time supporting low latency for interactive applications, 10G will be crucial to delivering the immersive media at bitrates (e.g. 1.5 Gbps for light field panels) that allow the corresponding displays to operate at their fullest potential.
Become an IDEA member
No one company can build the future in isolation. IDEA welcomes anyone—technologists, creative visionaries, equipment manufacturers and network distribution operators—who share its vision. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a member, please visit the website at www.immersivealliance.org.
You can learn more about the CableLabs future vision by clicking below.
2019 Tech Innovation Predictions
Now that 2019 is here, it’s time to share my tech innovation predictions for the year. Watch the video below to find out what you can expect to see in 2019.
What are your innovation predictions for 2019? Tell us in the comment section below. Best wishes for a great new year!
Subscribe to our blog to see how CableLabs enables innovation.