This last week I was at Qualcomm, and they presented a rather impressive vision of a wireless future. That future included some interesting concepts like autonomous cars that could talk to each other (and likely would badmouth me for wanting to drive faster), wireless devices that could use the RF (radio frequency) waves around them to see you without video, and improvements that would allow us to successfully stream and work from large venues like stadiums.
But two things caught my attention, and they were the birth of digital assistants like the Amazon Echo that contained mesh network nodes and the concept of pervasive AR avatars. Let’s talk about these interesting offerings this week.
Digital Assistant Mesh Network Node Mashup
Digital assistants have taken over my house. I have one in every room so that I can have my music and get things like weather updates wherever I am. But another thing I have a lot of are mesh network nodes. I’m using the Qualcomm-based Wi-Fi 5 Linksys Velop system at the moment, and each node cost me around $100.
The mesh nodes spread the Wi-Fi signal around my home. I get decent coverage, but I tend to place the nodes in difficult to reach locations making the occasional reset problematic, and—while they aren’t bad looking—they are white and stand out in my a gray and black home. This visual problem is one of the reasons I hide them. They stand out—and not in a good way.
But why not put the two things together? The result would have to look better because it would be designed to better blend in with your décor. You’d only consume one outlet for power, and you’d not only get dedicated bandwidth to the assistant, but it would be providing enhanced networking to everything else within range. Oh, and like the mesh node, it could even provide a network connection to wired networking devices near it.
For instance, if you hard wired it to the TV your TV could make better use of the dedicated network channel the node uses and should get prioritized bandwidth for your high definition video—effectively upgrading the TV when you upgraded your network.
Think about it, when you move to Wi-Fi 6, you are going to want your TVs on that faster network but the path there would typically require a new TV. This alternative of a dedicated mesh node would save you that high cost.
By the way, even if you don’t go with a digital assistant mesh network node mashup, just using Wi-Fi 6 mesh nodes to connect to your wireless TV would still be a great way to upgrade it.
Pervasive AR Avatars
With the advent of 5G and Wi-Fi 6, we get a ton of additional bandwidth, and—using Qualcomm technology—we will have a new wave of AR (augmented reality) glasses that are wirelessly connected. When connected back to a related collaboration service, you’ll be able to project your avatar onto someone else’s glasses, and they’ll be able to project theirs onto yours.
Imagine being able to walk and chat with an old remote friend that could be thousands of miles away looking and seemingly interacting with them as if they were there? Now imagine being able to talk to someone that isn’t even living anymore (there are several companies working on taking your life experiences and creating virtual copies of you from them). While this was a Black Mirror episode that—as they all do–didn’t exactly have a positive ending, imagine how comforting that would be if you were having difficulty, feeling lonely, or depressed. You could even make your imaginary friend sort of real or give yourself a virtual pet that doesn’t have the upkeep of a real one. (Ironically my cat is giving me stink eye at the moment). Just so you know, I don’t want to replace my cat, but I do want to supplement him with a little pet fire breathing dragon, maybe a Snapdragon. Wouldn’t that be cool?
This advancement is on the path to a blended reality where rendered things are increasingly difficult to distinguish from real objects. And others will be able to use their glasses to see the rendered objects we have, and we’ll be able to see theirs as if they were in the room with us.
Wrapping Up: Qualcomm Changes and Advancements
It is fascinating watching Qualcomm–and the industry that seemed to stand back and wait for Apple to announce something before trying to copy it again–rediscover their innovation and creativity. Apple’s loss is increasingly going to be our gain as companies step up and fill the innovation gap that Apple seemingly now ignores. The result will be new blended offerings like digital assistants with built-in mesh Wi-Fi nodes, and advancements like increasingly capable (and hopefully more attractive) wireless AR glasses that can transform the world around us into something a tad more magical and give me my pet dragon.
It is again becoming an amazing time, and firms like Qualcomm are blazing the new trail that firms like Apple have seemingly abandoned.