Throughout 2023, InterDigital’s New York Office welcomed more than a dozen brilliant interns and researchers to explore and contribute to the industry-shaping research and innovation led at InterDigital.
Before concluding their time at InterDigital, each of the interns reflected on the work they led and experiences they shared working in InterDigital’s esteemed labs with world class engineers and inventors.
We thank each of our interns for their insights, their diligence, and the hard work they contributed to the Lab’s research and our InterDigital team. Learn more about the interns and their work below.
Eric Lei: Leveraging a Novel Mesh Autoencoder
Philip Jacobson: Generating Point Cloud Texture using Generative AI
Ritwik Sadhu: Exploring Geometry Regularized Point Cloud Autoencoder
Leveraging a Novel Mesh Autoencoder
Throughout his internship, Eric Lei worked on 3D mesh learning and compression. Eric’s project first involved designing a novel mesh autoencoder that allows autoencoding of meshes that do not share template graphs, increasing the applicability of autoencoder tasks in the 3D graphics domain. His follow up work includes adapting the autoencoder for mesh compression, providing a neural compression approach for mesh data.
Eric Lei: “During my time at InterDigital, I was able to explore many timely research topics in 3D graphics learning and compression. I learned a lot about 3D graphics data and was able to merge what I learned with my prior experience in learned compression and compression theory to develop interesting solutions. I thoroughly enjoyed discussions with Muhammad Asad Lodhi, Dong Tian, Junghyun Ahn, and Jiahao Pang, who all possess exceptional expertise in this field and provided me with great support. Overall, I had a pleasure working with the V4M team and thank them for my time at InterDigital.”
Generating Point Cloud Texture using Generative AI
At InterDigital, Philip Jacobson explored the topic of point cloud color and attribute generation using generative AI. Given a 3D point cloud and a text description, InterDigital’s developed approach colorizes the input point cloud as instructed. With a diffusion model operating on 3D point clouds, our network iteratively improves the colorization and leads to the desired output. In this 3-month period, Philip proposed practical solutions and demonstrated his strong knowledge in this subject, leading to potential patent filing and publication.
Philip Jacobson: “I interned at InterDigital for 3 months in summer 2023 working on a team dedicated to researching learning-based algorithms for point cloud analysis and processing. For my intern project, I explored using generative AI to create realistic textures for point clouds, which could be used in AR/VR/gaming and facilitated the development of point cloud attribute compression. I enjoyed being able to explore something outside of my current PhD research track in an exciting, fast-moving direction. The mentorship I received from my mentor Jiahao, and the talented and knowledgeable team has helped me grow tremendously as a researcher and will stick with me as I look to advance my career.”
Exploring Geometry Regularized Point Cloud Autoencoder
While at InterDigital, Ritwik Sadhu explored the topic of 3D point cloud surface analysis, leading to a loss function that greatly improves the point cloud reconstruction quality and feature representability in point-based neural network training. During his internship, Ritwik successfully synergized his expertise in optimal transport with 3D point cloud analysis and shows his enthusiasm for the field. His work will be integrated into InterDigital’s AI-based point cloud compression project for additional improvement of the compression performance.
Ritwik Sadhu: “I have interned at InterDigital for the past 3 months, working on 3D point cloud surface analysis for measuring the similarity of 3D point clouds representing real-life objects. Starting as a machine learning generalist and ending with a potential patent and research publication on my solution, this internship has been a tour-de-force in understanding the state-of-the-art in the field of point cloud processing, and the support from Jiahao Pang and Dong Tian was phenomenal. I deeply enjoyed the brainstorming sessions with the V4M team, which helped refine my ideas and experiments – I thank all of them for their help and company this summer.”
The development of information and communication technologies over the past 50 years has been remarkable. With almost 10 billion mobile devices worldwide, everyone is now connected—meaning we can speak to one another, see each other, share audio and video content, and distribute large amounts of data all the time and almost effortlessly.
However, as awareness of the climate emergency has grown in recent years, more attention is now paid to addressing the energy usage of connected products and services, such as mobile devices, laptops, TVs, and more. Engineers and contributors to global standards from companies like InterDigital are therefore increasingly focused on the need to make networks and products more energy-efficient, and, where possible, to incorporate energy reduction features into industry-wide standards.
As we celebrate World Standards Day on October 14th it is worth reflecting on how standardized technologies can help shape a more sustainable future.
Reducing energy in 5G
In wireless, 5G networks support various features that are more efficient than 4G, but the global rollout of 5G and the introduction of new network elements, devices and services will nevertheless increase overall energy needs. According to a joint study by InterDigital and ABI Research in 2021, the 5G ecosystem will see a 160% increase in power requirements by 2030 (making it equal to all the energy consumption of Sweden). That said, the study also shows that when analyzed on a per-bit basis, 5G is far more efficient than 4G and this efficiency will only improve as newer generations of technology hit the market.
Areas where efforts are now underway to increase efficiency include real-time monitoring and improved battery management. 5G Advanced, which is due to be introduced in 2024, will go further, by emphasizing network operation efficiency and low-power consumption for Internet of Things (IoT) networks. Applications running on 5G are able to become energy aware and can modify their behavior based on energy usage.
As this demonstrates, one of the benefits of 5G Advanced is extending connectivity into a wider variety of industries and sectors in the global economy. While connected devices need power, they can also help drive significant efficiencies and, ultimately, save energy in areas like smart manufacturing and smart transportation. For example, ABI Research forecasts that 5G can save the average warehouse 650 tons of CO2 emissions by 2030.
InterDigital will continue to play an important role in developing the technologies to achieve this through our contributions to standards such as 5G and through our leadership in key standards bodies such as 3GPP.
Making video more efficient
Video is another area where energy efficiency is a priority. Video currently accounts for more than 80% of internet streaming and 72% of video energy consumption comes from consumer devices, according to the International Energy Agency.
InterDigital is a leading contributor to video standards and our engineers bring their expertise in sustainability to standards setting organizations. For example, we are a contributor to the VVC codec, which enables large reductions in bitrates on streamed video with no perceptible loss of image quality. This will help video infrastructure to become more sustainable by limiting expansion and growth.
InterDigital also co-chairs the Planning Team on Sustainability in Media and Data Delivery Services (PT9) in ATSC and co-leads DVB’s study mission on Energy Aware Service Delivery and Consumption. Further, InterDigital leads the Sustainability Committee of the Ultra HD Forum, and is a member of the SMPTE Sustainability Working Group.
Sustainability and increased energy efficiency have long been priorities for our engineers. Notably, InterDigital organized and co-chaired a collaborative workshop in Rennes earlier this year titled “Towards Sustainable and Energy-Aware Video Communications.” This was part of the International Conference on Information and Communications Technology for Sustainability (ICT4S).
Further, we were awarded Best Full-Length Paper at the ACM Mile High Video Conference 2023 for research on Energy-Aware Images: Quality of Experience vs Energy Reduction. This award recognized InterDigital’s Pixel Value Reduction (PVR) solutions to balance the ability to reduce the brightness of an image (and therefore the amount of energy consumed) while optimizing the visual quality perceived by the viewer. This is based on two approaches to energy saving: (1) maintaining the full image quality while maximally reducing energy requirements, and (2) achieving specific levels of energy reduction through customization of streaming content services while keeping the visual quality as high as possible.
InterDigital has long been a leading contributor in exploring Energy Aware Broadcasting Systems. In ITU-R Working Party 6C, InterDigital has helped to raise awareness of energy efficiency concerns, co-chairing a rapporteur group on the topic. An ITU webinar was organized on the topic, and an ITU-R report was derived from it. ITU-R has also published an opinion on carbon offsetting, to which InterDigital has contributed.
Currently, InterDigital researchers are proposing PVR solutions in the context of ITU-R to reduce the energy requirements of display devices. In parallel, InterDigital is standardizing appropriate infrastructure in MPEG to carry information to allow display devices to benefit from PVR technologies.
Consumers increasingly factor sustainability concerns into their purchasing decisions, and connected devices and consumer electronics products are no exception. It is incumbent on the industry to develop products and services that are energy-efficient and not wasteful while also enabling diverse and high-quality content and delivery.
At InterDigital, as a leading contributor to standards like 5G and VVC, we are perfectly placed to lead efforts to incorporate sustainable solutions into new technologies, in fields such as wireless and video. Doing so will ensure that energy-efficient solutions are widely implemented, delivering consumers high-quality connectivity with an energy efficient approach.
More still needs to be done but, as our work at InterDigital demonstrates, innovation in standardized technologies can play a significant role in paving the way to a more sustainable future.
On October 11, InterDigital welcomed industry collaborators, local government, and academic partners for an official ribbon cutting to open InterDigital’s new Cesson-Sévigné office building, the Zen II. In attendance were InterDigital’s engineers and executive committee alongside local industry and government leaders, including Cesson-Sévigné Mayor Jean-Pierre Savignac, to witness InterDigital’s research expertise and cutting-edge video innovation.
Cesson-Sévigné Mayor Jean-Pierre Savignac delivers remarks at the InterDigital France Open House
InterDigital is one of the world’s largest pure R&D and licensing companies with a rich heritage in wireless and video technologies and expertise in developing advanced technologies and contributing them to global standards.
As a global company with research labs and offices across Europe, North America, and Asia, InterDigital’s new Rennes office represents the company’s newest, and largest, office.
About the Cesson-Sévigné Office
Located in Cesson-Sévigné, InterDigital’s new Rennes office is home to more than 140 French employees, of which roughly 30% hold a PhD and more than half have an engineering or masters’ degree.
InterDigital’s Cesson-Sévigné-based employees lead rigorous research in the Video Lab, contribute to global standards, and manage InterDigital’s diverse patent portfolio. InterDigital’s Video Lab develops 2D and new media codecs and solutions that enable video experiences to be crisper, more immersive, and more sustainable.
InterDigital France General Manager Lionel Oisel, Cesson-Sévigné Mayor Jean-Pierre Savignac, and InterDigital President and CEO Liren Chen commemorate the new office opening delivers remarks at the InterDigital France Open House
To foster cutting-edge and impactful research and innovation, InterDigital re-invests approximately half of our recurring revenue in research and portfolio development. Our R&D efforts have resulted in critical inventions covered by a portfolio of approximately 30,000 patents and patent applications.
Our Research and Innovation
InterDigital’s standards-driven research enables future generations of video, new media coding, and streaming through innovation in media compression that decreases bandwidth and energy consumption while increasing content quality and allowing new services.
At the Open House, InterDigital engineers demonstrated various innovations displaying expertise in facial expression capture, haptics and immersive codecs, video delivery and rendering, and new solutions to mitigate video energy consumption.
InterDigital Video Lab engineers demonstrate the latest innovation in haptics and immersive video experiences
A Video Lab engineer showcases InterDigital’s research contributions to avatar modeling and animation for connected communications
Specifically, engineers demonstrated:
Technologies to enable future metaverse systems, including tools for real-time animation of a 3D avatar,
Improvements to video game experiences through haptics and sensorial effects that enhance immersivity,
An end-to-end pipeline enabling the creation, distribution, and rendering of high-dynamic range (HDR) content,
Video-based immersive codecs enabling new XR experiences like telelearning or 3D telepresence, and
Pioneering solutions to reduce video energy consumption while maintaining viewer experiences.
Recently named one of LexisNexis’ top 100 leaders in sustainable innovation, InterDigital’s energy-aware advocacy, state-of-the-art solutions, and contributions to sustainable video codecs have have been acknowledged across global standards bodies like ITU-R, MPEG, DVB, ATSC, and SMPTE for setting an industry framework to integrate solutions that mitigate energy consumption while enabling more immersive video experiences.
InterDigital’s Impact in France
InterDigital’s strategic partnerships with innovation hubs, startups, and institutions like INRIA has deepened the development of technologies that enhance media experiences. Specifically, InterDigital’s strategic partnership with the INRIA through a Common Lab explores new technologies to support immersive and metaverse applications.
Guests and partners attend InterDigital's Office Opening
A key player in the local innovation ecosystem, InterDigital collaborates with local engineering schools, providing research sponsorships and PhD co-supervision for students from INRIA, INSA, IMT Atlantique, IRISA, and CentraleSupelec and many other universities and engineering schools. More than 20 current InterDigital employees previously worked for INRIA as PhDs or post-doctoral students.
A critical contributor to the global standards that underpin the innovation ecosystem, InterDigital’s Rennes researchers hold more than 40 leadership positions in video standards bodies including MPEG, DVB, and ITU, and have made more than 200 contributions per year enabling video evolution.
As InterDigital’s newest and biggest site, the Cesson-Sévigné office will continue to be a haven for critical research and innovation driving growth and improvement in the technology ecosystem.
Throughout 2023, InterDigital’s Rennes Office welcomed more than a dozen brilliant interns and researchers to explore and contribute to the industry-shaping research and innovation being conducted at InterDigital.
Before concluding their time at InterDigital, each of the interns reflected on the work they led and experiences they shared working in InterDigital’s esteemed labs with world class engineers and inventors.
We thank each of our interns for their insights, their diligence, and the hard work they contributed to the Lab’s research and our InterDigital team.
Baptiste Dumoulin: Evaluating New and Legacy Video/Image Compression Approaches
Paul Sevellec: Analyzing Neural Network Performances and Properties for In-Loop Filtering
Théo Prieur: Designing Video Encoder Decision Algorithms
Pieyre Iacone: Implementing Advanced HDR for GPUs
Mohamed Arbi Ben Youssef: Investigating and Improving LMCS Tuning for Video Encoding
Evaluating New and Legacy Video/Image Compression Approaches
While at InterDigital, Baptiste Dumoulin worked to evaluate video and image codecs, specifically new approaches to image/video compression using machine learning, and especially deep learning. These new approaches completely change the traditional paradigm, and it is often difficult to compare new methods with legacy methods. During his internship, Baptiste performed an assessment of both traditional and new codecs in a common framework, allowing our Lab to compare the different methods fairly and determine the consistency of input data, the metrics, assessment, and more.
Baptiste Dumoulin: “During my enriching three-month internship at InterDigital, I had the privilege of collaborating with highly skilled professionals on the fascinating topic of fair comparison between end-to-end (e2e) encoders and traditional ones. The experience was invaluable as I had the chance to explore various methods for E2E compression and deepen my understanding of the VVC (Versatile Video Coding) standard.
“I was able to engage in a wide range of rewarding activities, from learning about the state-of-the-art in E2E compression to handling the VVC Test Model (VTM) and running simulations with it. Working alongside a team of brilliant individuals, I found myself immersed in a supportive and positive environment, for which I am truly grateful to InterDigital and its engineers.”
Analyzing Neural Network Performances and Properties for In-Loop Filtering
A current trend in the development of next-generation video codecs is the introduction of in-loop filters based on deep neural networks, to enhance the quality of the reconstructed frames in a video. While this approach greatly improves coding performance, the high computational complexity of the neural networks remains a barrier to real world adoption. During his internship, Paul Sevellec analyzed the performances and properties of a neural network for in-loop filtering that was previously proposed in the JVET standardization group. Paul also supported the development of a low complexity machine learning-based component that can be integrated in conventional, or non-neural network, in-loop filters.
Paul Sevellec: “During my internship from March to August, I had the opportunity to discover the world of video compression in the context of the JVET standardization group. For the first couple months, I developed visualizations and ran tests to extract metrics to have a better understanding of the neural network filtering. After that, we explored the possibility to develop a hybrid component that would combine a small neural network and an algorithmic part to get the best from both worlds. This was a great experience because I had the opportunity to explore a wide range of ideas and technical aspects in such a great team.”
Designing Video Encoder Decision Algorithms
The Joint Video Expert Team (JVET) of ITU-T and MPEG is currently developing an exploratory video codec called Enhanced Compression Model (ECM) to study video compression algorithms beyond the Versatile Video Coding (VVC) standard. In support, InterDigital’s core video compression research team has developed a coding tool that spatially shifts the grid of Coding Tree Units (CTUs) used to divide a picture and compresses it into rectangular block areas. InterDigital’s tool increases ECM’s compression performances, but still requires a fast encoder decision algorithm to drive this mechanism and make it acceptable by the JVET group.
During his internship, Théo Prieur worked on designing video encoder decision algorithms to determine which CTU grid spatial offset to apply when coding and decoding a video picture. Théo investigated two types of encoder algorithms: conventional video encoder heuristics and machine learning algorithms. Through his hard work and involvement, he dramatically strengthened his knowledge of video codecs and produced quite promising results around the trade-off between
encoder complexity and compression performances when using machine learning-based approaches.
Théo Prieur: “ Interning at InterDigital has been a wonderful experience so far. I'm enjoying working among a team of experts who are guiding me through my internship and helping me overcome all the difficulties I could face. Thanks to very well detailed documents made by the team I could find everything I needed very quickly. Thus, I was soon up and running. I learned so much about VVC encoders and artificial intelligence, I'm very grateful to InterDigital for this experience and beyond the technical aspect, I received a lot of valuable advice for my future career.”
Implementing Advanced HDR for GPUs
High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a new way to capture, produce, distribute, and render images with increased brightness, deeper contrast, and more colors. InterDigital supports and implements Advanced HDR by Technicolor solutions (AHDR), providing creation and rendering tools to product manufacturers and service providers. During his internship, Pieyre Iacone contributed to the implementation of Advanced HDR by Technicolor algorithms, and successfully developed code with generic interfaces to support different GPU technologies, like OpenGL, OpenCL, and CUDA. Through this project, Pieyre familiarized himself with GPU computing and was exposed to the differences between various GPU programming solutions.
Pieyre Iacone: “My internship at InterDigital has been exciting and a great learning experience. During this internship, I was immersed in a team of highly skilled engineers working on the Advanced HDR by Technicolor (AHDR) solution. Through my work on AHDR algorithms GPU implementation, I gained expertise in parallel programming (GPGPU) and deepened my understanding of HDR video technologies. Not only did I develop new skills related to my mission, but I also expanded my knowledge in various domains, thanks to the regular scientific seminars provided by employees. I am truly grateful to InterDigital for providing me with this opportunity.”
Investigating and Improving LMCS Tuning for Video Encoding
VVC, MPEG’s latest video standard, introduced new and different coding technologies. One technology called LMCS, or Luma Mapping and Chroma Scaling, performs a mapping of the input video coding to better exploit the available signal range, however the tuning of this tool is extremely tricky. Throughout his time at InterDigital, Mohamed Arbi Ben Youssef investigated conventional and machine learning-based algorithms to improve the LMCS tuning applied during video encoding and explored normative improvements to the LMCS tool.
Mohamed Arbi Ben Youssef: “During my internship at InterDigital, I delved into the world of video coding, where I had the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge technologies and methodologies. The research aspect of the internship allowed me to explore novel video compression techniques and their applications. I found myself truly passionate about solving complex problems using machine learning and deep learning techniques, which could be pivotal in enhancing video coding efficiency and quality.
“Working alongside a highly skilled team, I was exposed to real-world projects that challenged and inspired me. Throughout my time at InterDigital, I was encouraged to think critically and apply theoretical knowledge in a practical setting. This hands-on experience not only enriched my understanding of video coding and machine learning but also bolstered my problem-solving skills and honed my ability to tackle intricate technical issues. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to be a part of InterDigital's dynamic team.”
A more connected world hinges on 6G, but what does this future look like, and how do we get there? InterDigital’s Head of Wireless Labs Milind Kulkarni detailed the journey at MWC Las Vegas 2023
More than 14,000 leaders and senior executives attended North America’s most influential connectivity event, Mobile World Congress Las Vegas, to explore the latest mobile offerings and engage in in-depth conversations about the future of wireless, from 5G private networks to the potential for open RAN, and what the evolution to the next G promises to deliver. InterDigital’s VP and Head of Wireless Labs Milind Kulkarni provided a future-looking perspective into the last topic, providing audiences a technical look into the innovation continuing to drive 5G and the evolution to 6G.
In a conference session titled Envisioning a 6G Future, Milind joined esteemed speakers Dr. Tom Rondeau, Principal Director of Future G & 5G for the U.S. Department of Defense and Gaurica Chacko, VP and Head of Global Life Sciences for Wipro Consulting, who provided unique perspectives on 6G’s potential for national security and public health, respectively. Milind’s presentation detailed the importance of standards in evolving our communications capabilities and introduced InterDigital’s 6G vision and the new uses cases and applications that will be enabled by even faster speeds, lower latency, and enhanced capacity under the next G.
The Path to 6G Requires Evolution and Innovation
5G adoption rates have been faster than any previous generation of wireless, with more than 269 commercial 5G launches worldwide and GSMA predicts that more than 27% of the world will be 5G connected by 2025. As 5G moves from its foundational phase to a more transformational phase under 5G Advanced, we can expect it to enable an expansion in vertical market applications, resolution of deployment issues, and support for device evolution, in addition to more flexible spectrum, more intelligence, and network energy savings. These technology improvements will build a strong foundation and pave the way for more ubiquitous connectivity, immersive experiences, operational improvements, and other enhancements under 6G.
Industry projects that the first 6G products will not be commercially available until 2030, so why begin the conversation now? Milind offered some important context, reminding us that we are just halfway through the 5G journey. He added that “5G offers a fantastic platform with a lot of capability to support many, many use cases, and we have to continue our focus in enabling more vertical markets and increasing the capabilities as we march through 5G Advanced.” He also cautioned that if we don’t start activities on 6G now, we will be behind the eight ball because we must dedicate a lot of time and effort to develop a vision and support the research, innovation, and development of systems and infrastructure that supports the next G.
InterDigital’s 6G Vision
From this vantage point, we believe 6G will deliver enhanced capabilities and yet-to-be-imagined opportunities and applications for a hyper-connected world. A 6G-enabled world will connect people more seamlessly with extreme coverage and support immersive experiences and new holographic media, while also empowering greater industry automation, autonomous operations, and low-power sensing on a broad scale.
Following the Emerging IMT-2030 view of 6G, here are a few of the technology building blocks that will lead us to our 6G future.
1. Better eMBB, or enhanced mobile broadband, will empower novel opportunities for immersive communications that leverage human-machine interfaces to extend user experience. By supporting increased coverage, high reliability, and low latency, this feature will enable new use cases like XR and holographic communications, remote multi-sensory telepresence, robotics, and more.
2. Better mMTC, or massive machine-type communications, will enable the network to support a massive number of devices and sensors through improvements to connection density, mobility, battery life, and reductions to power consumption. These 6G-enabled features will empower novel applications in smart cities, transportation, and logistics, as well as in enterprise verticals like environmental monitoring.
3. Enhanced URLLC, or ultra-reliable low latency communications, will support hyper-reliable and low latency communication for use cases that require extreme reliability and low latency alongside precise positioning and connection density. The capabilities of this new feature will enable fully automated use cases like connected factory operation, robotics, drone navigation, and remote surgery.
4. Integrated Sensing and Communication, facilitates applications and services that require sensing capabilities. Leveraging multi-dimensional sensing to gather spatial information about unconnected objects, connected devices, and their surroundings will enable better spatial information for XR, posture/gesture recognition, and improvements to navigation and localization.
5. Integrated AI and Communication, the integration of AI and compute functionalities, will unlock groundbreaking new capabilities and positively alter our landscape by enabling new use cases like network-assisted automated driving, autonomous device collaboration for medical applications, the rapid development of digital twins, and much more.
6. Ubiquitous connectivity will enhance connectivity to bridge the digital divide. Support for the integration of terrestrial and non-terrestrial networks and direct-to-satellite links will unlock new applications for IoT and mobile broadband communications.
7. Trustworthiness is critical, and an important challenge, for each next G and trust is fundamental to driving 6G adoption and scalability in the industry. It is crucial to embed new trust capabilities to keep pace with each wireless generation, and 6G is exploring new distributed architectures like blockchain to foster the decentralized trust capabilities that will be paramount for the ubiquitous data of 6G ecosystems.
Tracking the Global Race to 6G
Though we don’t expect to see commercial 6G until 2030, it is important to understand that 6G will exist simultaneously with 4G and 5G, just as 3G, 4G and 5G will coexist for some time. As researchers like InterDigital collaborate with industry on the innovative research, standards contributions, and industry deployments that shape the long road to 6G, many governments around the world are developing plans to make 6G a reality.
In North America, the Next G Alliance, an initiative under ATIS, is establishing road maps and industry efforts to advance 6G leadership, and in Europe, a variety of 6G projects have received critical research funding. South Korea has announced plans to develop commercial 6G tech in 2024 and China plans to introduce early 6G applications by 2025, in advance of 3GPP specs and ITU-R standards. Elsewhere in Asia, Japanese companies like Toyota Motor and NEC have proposed requirements for 6G communications, and India recently unveiled a Bharat 6G vision document with plans to launch a 6G R&D testbed.
The road to 6G is measured with milestones of innovation and evolution. We at InterDigital are committed to the hard work and innovative research that bring us closer to that future.
Throughout 2023, InterDigital’s Rennes Office welcomed more than a dozen brilliant interns and researchers to explore and contribute to the industry-shaping research and innovation being conducted at InterDigital.
Before concluding their time at InterDigital, each of the interns reflected on the work they led and experiences they shared working in InterDigital’s esteemed labs with world class engineers and inventors.
We thank each of our interns for their insights, their diligence, and the hard work they contributed to the Lab’s research and our InterDigital team. Learn more about the interns and their work below.
Majd Alghaddaf: Quality of Experience for XR
Tom Roy: MPEG-I Standards on Haptics and Scene Description
Jim Pavan: Semantic-based technology for Video Conferences
Tom Le Menn: Synthetic Video Data Generation
Mohammad Aroui: Implicit Representations for Image and Video Compression
Kilian Ravon: Energy Reduction Solutions for Video Displays and Screens
Emmanuel Sampaio: Benchmarking Energy Aware Imaging Processing Methods
Antoine de Saint-Martin: Evaluating the Meta Quest Pro2
Quality of Experience for XR
Throughout the year, Majd Alghaddaf worked on quality of experience (QoE)for XR. He conducted significant research to make a state-of-the-art solution around QoE, with the goal of helping the Video Lab contribute and propose new metrics to analyze in the AR-specific field. Majd provided strong help and developed deep understanding on this subject and helped the Lab on two patents related to this research.
Majd Alghaddaf: “I've been interning at InterDigital for the past 6 months, studying the quality of experience of augmented reality applications. This experience has granted me a unique perspective on the field of research and standards that I could not have obtained anywhere else. Not only did I gain an abundance of knowledge on augmented reality and its rapid evolution, but I got to participate in the filing of two patents related to my internship. I could not have done this without my amazing team, comprised of experts who have been ever so kind to me throughout my entire time here. I thank everyone that I have come across at this company, for they have all shared a piece of their expertise.”
Demonstrating MPEG-I Standards on Haptics and Scene Description
Throughout his internship, Tom Roy worked on the development of a demonstration showcasing the capabilities of the upcoming MPEG-I standards on Haptics and Scene Description. The demonstration is a sensorial immersive experience using a virtual reality headset, haptic-enabled controllers, and a haptic vest. The proposed experience is an interactive go-kart race-like game where interactions with the environment will trigger spatialized haptic feedback to provide an enhanced sense of immersion.
Tom Roy: “Interning at InterDigital was a turning point in my studies and allowed me to discover the world of research. At InterDigital, I have worked with amazing people that have broadened my engineering and my professional skills. I have been working on haptics in immersive experiences, a new way for people to perceive sensations. I am grateful to InterDigital for the opportunity, and I am really happy to continue my research as a PhD student.”
Exploring Semantic-based technology for Video Conferences
InterDigital’s Video Lab is working on semantic-based technology for video conferences, which depends on 3D human facial data to correctly estimate semantic features such as facial expressions, lighting conditions (e.g., light positions or specular reflections), background and hair segmentation. Recent efforts to generate 3D synthetic data has shown that it matches real data in accuracy for machine learning systems. During his internship, Jim Pavan worked on establishing a parametric 3D face model based on internal 3D assets, while developing a scripting framework to generate and render synthetic training images.
Jim Pavan: “My experience here at InterDigital has been interesting and I learned many things about the field of computer graphics. Working with the Interactive Media team has been very cool and instructive. InterDigital’s employees deserve recognition for their hard work and personal investment.”
Facilitating Synthetic Video Data Generation
During his time at InterDigital, Tom Le Menn has worked on synthetic video data generation of dynamic hair using the Unreal Engine. The main objective of his work was to obtain realistic synthetic data for the PhD #2 in the Nemo project, InterDigital’s joint lab with INRIA. The PhD explores encoding and modeling hair data on semantic-based technology for video conferences. InterDigital’s MetaVideo group has worked on hair modeling, encoding, and segmentation for a few years in coordination with post-production studios and has built a large VFX haircut database. Tom leveraged this database to automate and facilitate the creation of synthetic video data.
Tom Le Menn
Tom Le Menn: “I've been an intern at InterDigital since March, working on a realistic grooming database generator to assist the work of a future thesis. The internship made me work with various interesting solutions in the digital imaging domain such as Houdini, Unreal, and Blender. Grooming is a highly specific domain, and working on it is challenging; it involves a lot of research and a need to find new ideas. It is very rewarding to attempt to push the boundaries and to innovate. Besides the subject, working at InterDigital comes with many advantages and is very pleasant; everyone on the team is very nice.”
Developing Implicit Representations for Image and Video Compression
This year, Mohammed Aroui pursued his PhD and worked on implicit representations for image and video compression with InterDigital. An implicit representation is the overfitting of the image function using a neural network. Specifically, Mohammed developed a spatially adaptive model selection, attached to a superpixel image partitioning that enables it to select, for a given tradeoff between rate and distortion, the optimal neural network according to its capacity. In other words, lightweight neural representations will be used for homogeneous areas, while bigger neural nets will be used for complex, textured image portions.
Mohammed Aroui: “My internship at InterDigital was a great learning experience where I developed many new skills. I learned so much about implicit neural representations and their application to image and video compression, and I was able to contribute to two patents. The highlight was getting to work with an amazing team and brilliant individuals who guided me throughout my internship.
“Overall, it was an enriching summer where I grew professionally and made connections with other colleagues. I’m thankful for the opportunity and will carry the knowledge I gained throughout my career.”
Exploring Energy Reduction Solutions for Video Displays and Screens
Kilian Ravon worked in the context of climate change, with the objective of reducing the energy needed to display images and videos on screens, like smartphones and TV sets. Kilian investigated different chromaticity-based methods, derived from properties of the visual perception and its optical illusions, such as heterochromatic flicker fusion, and developed spatial and temporal algorithmic processing. Besides the development of the methods through classic computer vision algorithms, machine learning-based networks were developed to mimic the most promising investigated technique. Kilian actively worked on a demonstration proving the efficiency of the method and is author and co-author of three patents.
Kilian Ravon: "I did my internship at InterDigital from February to August, and it was a very rewarding experience. I was able to work on the energy reduction of displays. After getting to grips with the existing technology, I improved and adapted it to other use cases, which led to the writing of three patents. This experience gave me an insight into private research and its culture. I also acquired a lot of technical knowledge, whether in image processing or in understanding colors and their perception. I'd like to thank the Energy Aware Media team for making me feel so welcome and for sharing their expertise with me.”
Benchmarking Energy Aware Imaging Processing Methods
During his internship, Emmanuel Sampaio worked in the context of sustainability, with the objective of reducing the energy required to display images and videos on screens like smartphones and TV sets. To that end, Emmanuel investigated image processing methods aiming to modify the visual content to display. He tested and benchmarked a set of state-of-the-art methods alongside our InterDigital methods, and to the best of our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive benchmark related to energy-aware images. The benchmark provides new insights and perspectives, and the results will be published in the scientific community in the coming months.
Emmanuel Sampaio: “During my six-month internship, we worked to benchmark different models that have as a major goal the reduction of the image’s power consumption. We addressed in this work a wide range of models: from simple image processing to sophisticated artificial intelligence models that can learn how to manipulate an image to achieve a power reduction goal. This benchmark allows us to improve our understanding of the image processing related with power reduction and enables us to implement improvements on our own models. It is important to mention that over the next months we intend to publish the benchmark results.”
Evaluating the Meta Quest Pro2
During this project, Antoine de Saint-Martin worked with Meta Quest Pro2 headset to first evaluate the headset's performance, and then explore challenges related to anchoring and the creation of digital twins. Antoine’s work was done within the MPEG SD perspective, and he developed a parser to support the anchoring and interactivity extensions provided by InterDigital. Upon completion of the internship, Antoine’s research on the Meta Quest Pro 2 headset will be integrated into the test bed developed by InterDigital’s Video Labs.
Antoine de Saint-Martin: "After having to evaluate and compare performances of several headsets for the first month, I started working on the META Quest Pro2 headset. My research focused on the anchoring capabilities of the headset and on the implementation of software used to map the area surrounding the user, like furniture for example. This surrounding is characterized by multiple digital twins, each one fits with a real object. I did some tests on user interactions over digital twins with hand tracking, to see if it fits well with the physics of the real world, and I implemented an MPEG extension called MPEG_anchor to be able to export my created scene from the headset to another device in a gITF file. This exported file can be used in the XR test bed demo developed by my mentor and the Video Lab.”
InterDigital CEO and President Liren Chen recently gave a keynote speech at the China IP Annual Conference in which he highlighted the strength of InterDigital’s innovation in areas like 5G, the company’s leadership in the standards community, and why it’s important to take account of patent quality when analyzing a company’s IP portfolio.
The conference, which this year was held in Jinan in Shandong province, was attended by more than 8,000 leaders from across China’s IP community, and attracted high-profile speakers from the likes of the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), Huawei, Qualcomm, ZTE, Tencent, JD, and Baidu.
Part of Liren’s speech focused on the leadership role that InterDigital plays in various standardized technologies including 5G and advanced video compression. While the company has been a pioneer in video for decades and in wireless through each generation of mobile, Liren recognized that, more recently, Chinese companies have emerged as notable contributors to various standards.
“From their many contributions and from the declared standard essential patents that they file, many Chinese companies have joined us to become valued innovators in the standards space,” Liren pointed out.
But, as well as playing a role as innovators, Chinese companies who implement standardized technologies in the devices they manufacture, also gain much from the standards process. “Over the last 15 years, these companies have also benefited considerably from standardized technologies that they can implement relatively cheaply so that they can bring new devices to consumers at a rapid pace,” Liren said in his speech.
And the global, collaborative nature of the standards development process is also a considerable boon to the global tech sector, including in China. “Standards that are collaborative, open and truly global in nature, offer far more advantages to Chinese OEMs than closed systems that can potentially be walled off when circumstances change,” Liren outlined. “And this is not just about Chinese companies in the smartphone space and in consumer electronics, but also in areas like automotive where advanced connectivity is increasingly valuable and where China’s auto companies are now recognized on the global stage.”
A small number of Chinese tech giants, including Huawei, are now emerging as players in IP licensing, but Liren admitted that in many parts of the world the role that licensing plays in the innovation ecosystem is poorly understood, including how it provides a crucial source of revenue for innovators who are then able to continue to invest in their research.
But for licensing to work most effectively, it needs reliable and balanced IP laws which support companies like InterDigital in making long-term bets on how their innovation is likely to shape products and services in the future.
“As an innovation business, our patents should be thought of as the product we bring to market,” Liren told the conference. “Some of our innovations may not be incorporated into a standard and implemented in a device until years after we file a patent. But our patent protection, backed by reliable IP rights, provides us with some security that we will be able to keep investing in our research through the revenue we generate in licensing.”
Liren also took the opportunity to explain the important role that InterDigital plays in the innovation ecosystem. “By focusing solely on research, InterDigital is an incredibly important contributor to global standards,” he said. “Our contributions are not necessarily made with a specific chipset or device in mind, but simply directed to advancing innovation in the most effective way.”
In his final comments to the conference, Liren highlighted some of InterDigital’s innovation priorities for the next few years including the upcoming introduction of 5G Advanced and how AI/ML is increasingly being applied in wireless and video.
“We already see the impact that AI/ML is having in cellular but its ongoing application across wireless and video promises to change how we connect by making networks more reliable, more efficient, and better equipped to handle more immersive experiences such as through the metaverse,” Liren outlined.
With a pipeline of innovation set to deliver ever more advanced connectivity, the conference audience was left in no doubt about the vital role that IP licensing will continue to play.
InterDigital is dedicated to making the connected world on which we depend possible, with more than 50 years of experience inventing foundational wireless and video technologies that have become essential to daily life. Alongside research and innovation in wireless and emerging technologies, InterDigital’s respected video heritage yields one of the industry’s leading innovation portfolios while also empowering new media capabilities and significantly contributing to global video standards.
Recently named one of LexisNexis’ top 100 leaders in sustainable innovation, InterDigital’s research and standards leadership is helping to empower the future of video content and new media experiences while taking steps to drive awareness and provide solutions to mitigate the energy consumption and environmental impact of our video habits.
Here are the facts: There are roughly five billion internet users globally, and more than 80% of content streamed on the internet is video. In addition, the International Energy Agency’s analysis of energy use within video streaming has found that 72% of video energy consumption comes from consumer devices, with the remaining attributed to data transmission and data centers.
As consumers, our voracious appetite for video and new media content is crystal clear, but we must also be aware of, and work to mitigate, the energy impact of video consumption.
Pixel Value Reduction (PVR)
InterDigital has pioneered innovations in energy-aware display technology that can help reduce energy consumption of video screens by intelligently optimizing pixel brightness. Put simply, our Pixel Value Reduction (PVR) solutions balance the ability to reduce the brightness of an image, or amount of energy consumed, while optimizing the perceived visual quality to the viewer. The goal is to ensure the viewer can't perceive the small reductions in pixel brightness which add up to colossal energy savings across billions of screens and a multitude of devices worldwide.
Outlined in an award-winning paper recognized by the ACM Mile High Video Conference, InterDigital’s innovation around PVR solutions focuses on two approaches to energy saving. The first approach focuses on the “just noticeable difference” and how to maintain the best possible image quality while making small incremental improvements towards energy savings. This approach prioritizes the artistic integrity of a broadcast piece of media, with the goal of making quality changes imperceivable to audiences, while nevertheless capturing whatever energy savings are possible. This approach helps ensure energy savings can be attained for even the most aesthetically demanding transmitted content.
The second approach is geared towards achieving specific levels of energy reduction and is more applicable to streaming content services, which already support a level of customization to the platform based on the internet speeds of the end user. InterDigital’s research has also explored the use of machine learning (ML) to achieve the optimal tradeoff between image quality and energy savings, so users can maximize energy savings across their TV screens.
Alongside innovations in energy aware media, InterDigital is also a leading contributor to the state-of-the-art video compression standard Versatile Video Codec (VVC), which is capable of a 40% reduction in bitrate on streamed video with no perceptible decrease in image quality, compared to the previous generation HEVC video codec. InterDigital’s research and standards contributions empower new 2D and immersive media opportunities, alongside advocacy for codecs like VVC that enable large reductions in bitrates which can result in potentially huge energy savings across the video value chain.
InterDigital continues to raise awareness of the video industry’s energy consumption impact while also putting forth actionable solutions like PVR. InterDigital’s energy-aware advocacy has been acknowledged across industry circles and in global standards bodies such as ITU-R, MPEG, DVB, ATSC, and SMPTE, and InterDigital engineers are often consulted for their expertise and understanding of sustainability considerations.
Sustainability has become a hot topic across industry events and tradeshows, and InterDigital has emerged as a leader in sharing both industry insights and solutions to this global challenge. In fact, in 2021, InterDigital was successful in driving the adoption of an energy consumption effort within the ITU working group responsible for standardizing video and program production. More recently, InterDigital’s video experts hosted a collaborative workshop in Rennes, titled “Towards Sustainable and Energy-Aware Video Communications,” exploring sustainability across the video chain and introducing new approaches to monitor and reduce energy consumption. In addition to being awarded Best Full-Length Paper at the ACM Mile High Video Conference 2023 for research on “Energy-Aware Images: Quality of Experience vs Energy Reduction,” InterDigital’s groundbreaking paper “Pixel Value Adjustment to Reduce the Energy Requirements of Display Devices” was recently published in the August 2023 edition of SMPTE’s Motion Imaging Journal. At the upcoming International Conference on Image Processing (ICIP) in October, InterDigital has contributed three academic papers and will chair a critical session on Energy-Efficient Image and Video Communications.
In ITU-R, InterDigital has raised awareness of energy efficiency concerns and spearheaded an effort to integrate energy consumption considerations into broader video standards, which have since been adopted. InterDigital has been a leading contributor in the exploration of Energy Aware Broadcasting Systems, which encourage the adoption of energy efficiency schemes within broadcasting, as well as offsetting carbon through initiatives across the broadcasting sector. InterDigital is also leading a new amendment to the Green MPEG specification to leverage our Pixel Value Reduction solutions, by defining the framework to transmit and use the attenuation map, which can be computed by InterDigital technologies. In ATSC, InterDigital co-chairs the Planning Team on Sustainability in Media and Data Delivery Services (PT9), which studies the benefits of broadcast data delivery vis-à-vis sustainable energy usage. InterDigital also co-leads DVB’s study on Energy Aware Service Delivery and Consumption, which is working to make a tangible, sustainability-driven difference to the sector through emerging technologies and opportunities, while also contributing to the SMPTE Sustainability Working Group.
With a business model rooted in research and innovation, InterDigital’s impactful portfolio of foundational technologies include solutions that help the video entertainment industry achieve more sustainable outcomes without impacting visual quality. By pioneering research into energy-aware media solutions like PVR and state-of-the art compression codecs, InterDigital is setting an important framework for industry to integrate solutions that mitigate energy consumption throughout the production chain, while enabling increasingly diverse and immersive video experiences.
Congratulations to InterDigital’s Energy Aware Media team for being awarded Best Full-Length Paper at the ACM Mile High Video Conference 2023!
The paper “Energy-Aware Images: Quality of Experience vs Energy Reduction” was produced by members of InterDigital’s Video Lab, including Olivier Le Meur, Claire-Hélène Demarty, Erik Reinhard, Franck Aumont, and Laurent Blonde, and together they propose a new framework for analyzing and processing video frames that allow modern screens to use less energy when displaying these frames.
In their analysis, the InterDigital team considers two use cases: one whereby the energy is reduced as much as possible under the constraint that visual quality is maintained, and another where the highest visual quality is sought under the constraint of a fixed reduction of energy use.
You can learn more and read the complete paper here.
For more information about InterDigital’s research and contributions to energy aware media, please click here.
In an editorial published in the May edition of TVB Europe magazine, InterDigital’s Senior Staff Engineer Chathura Sarathchandra spotlights the critical importance of seamless user experiences when promoting the benefit of sensory 6G, and the need for new language to define the quality of the physical experience for users. He argues that while connected ecosystems will open a door to a world of new experiences, if industry does not consider human-centricity as a requirement when developing 6G sensory technologies, then it might risk losing interest, investment, and other elements vital to its long-term success.
Explore more in Chathura’s editorial in TVB Europe on page 8 here.
Continuing the celebration of our female engineers and leaders this week as we recognize World IP Day, today we are spotlighting two outstanding engineers from our Video Lab. Like our inspiring female leaders in wireless, both are powerful role models in an industry where women remain woefully underrepresented.
Valérie Allié and Gaëlle Martin-Cocher are part of a team that is continuing InterDigital’s rich heritage of innovation in video through our work on more efficient codecs such as versatile video coding (VVC) and high efficiency video coding (HEVC), our research in cutting-edge video formats and energy aware media, and through our various leadership positions in major industry organizations.
The ability to efficiently enjoy video is increasingly important. More than 80% of global internet traffic today is video while around 250 million hours of content are streamed on Netflix every day. The seamless delivery of this data-rich content is enabled by a foundation of innovation that enables content to be streamed across a range of devices, and we’re proud of the role our leading female engineers are playing in this increasingly video-dominated world.
For example, Valérie Allié is Director of the Video Solutions Group at InterDigital, a team that is helping to enhance the quality of video that billions of us watch every day. Since 2017 Valérie has been working in volumetric video technologies addressing mixed reality (MR) experiences and augmented reality (AR) technologies and, since January of last year, she has led the Video Solutions group to support the deployment of 2D video codecs, such as VVC, and immersive codecs, including V3C/V-PCC and V3C/MIV.
In addition to her long experience in managing research labs, Valérie has spent five years in technology transfer and licensing. Her current research focus explores innovations in the delivery of SDR and Advanced HDR technologies, deployments of 2D VVC codecs, and research collaborations with partners like Philips to bolster contributions to volumetric video codecs enabling more immersive and XR use cases.
Also from our video team, Gaëlle Martin-Cocher is Senior Director of Research and Innovation, leading InterDigital’s research on immersive video standards. Gaëlle is also Vice-Chair of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG), which advises the ITU-T study groups on issues including ICT service provision, economic and policy implications, future networks and cloud, content delivery platforms, broadband cable and TV, and the Internet of Things.
Gaëlle also serves as a TSAG representative in the IEC SMB / ISO TMB / ITU-T Standardization Programme Coordination Group, responsible for identifying strategic areas of coordination between the three organizations when new fields of technical activity are proposed. Her leadership in the industry is a clear sign of the high regard in which she is held by her peers.
Valérie’s and Gaëlle’s work is critical in paving the way to what we see as a new generation of connected ecosystems, where video and wireless technologies are even more closely integrated, where AI is increasingly applied, and where consumers can enjoy more immersive experiences.
As we mark World IP Day this week, we celebrate the achievements of all our female engineers and women inventors everywhere, who are pioneering new ground in innovation and laying a positive roadmap for more diverse representation in our global IP ecosystem.
As we celebrate World Intellectual Property Day on April 26, this year’s theme is “Women and IP: Accelerating innovation and creativity”. Women are driving scientific breakthroughs, setting new creative trends, and building businesses, but the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) notes that: “Too few women are participating in the intellectual property system [which] means too few women are benefitting from IP.”
As an innovation company developing next generation technologies in video, wireless, and AI, at InterDigital we understand the crucial role that IP protections play in enabling innovators everywhere to see a return on their inventions and to keep developing new breakthroughs.
We also know that more must be done to optimize and reap the greatest benefit from the global innovation economy. Ultimately, we can only realize the full creative power of the innovation economy if women, men, and all parts of society are empowered to contribute to IP-rich sectors.
Engineering in advanced communications is one important area where women remain woefully underrepresented, but recognizing outstanding female innovators and role models is an important way to encourage and promote more diverse contributions and representations in IP. At InterDigital, our innovation footprint is bolstered by the leadership and contributions of senior female engineers who are outstanding in their fields. This week, in commemoration of World IP Day, we’re highlighting several of our world-class engineers to explain why our ecosystem benefits with more contributions from women inventors.
InterDigital’s Wireless Lab has been a leading innovator in each generation of wireless evolution, including 5G, driven by the contributions of several stand out female engineers.
Diana Pani, Vice President of 5G Standards and Research, leads our development of advanced 5G technologies and 3GPP standardization for future cellular systems. Since joining the company in 2006, she has focused on the design and development of 3G, 4G and 5G cellular and Wi-Fi systems, and has been granted more than 250 US patents and more than 1700 worldwide for her inventions.
An active contributor to the standardization of radio access protocols within 3GPP, Diana was 3GPP RAN WG2 Vice-Chair from 2013-2017. She is now working on 5G Advanced technologies, paving the way for 6G: this research spans artificial intelligence and machine learning, extended reality, network energy savings, satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles.
From a more technical perspective, Catalina Mladin is a Member of Technical Staff at InterDigital with more than twenty years of experience in telecommunications. A prolific inventor with more than 100 patents, Catalina has been recognized for her outstanding inventions and leadership in wireless and IoT both within InterDigital and amongst her industry peers.
In addition to serving as the IEEE Philadelphia-chapter Women in Engineering Vice Chair, Catalina has also been elected to serve as Vice Chair of the OneM2M Requirements Working Group, and recognized with an IEEE Technical Excellence Award, for her expertise in integrating OneM2M standards within underlying 3GPP networks.
Catalina exhibits leadership both within her research teams and industry standards organizations, and currently serves as rapporteur for a study on Application Capability Exposure for IoT Platforms for 3GPP SA6 Release 18. She has also contributed to several publications, including around enabling semantics in IoT service deliver platforms and blockchain-enabled applications in next-generation wireless systems.
We continue to take pride in the integral contributions that Diana and Catalina have made to advanced wireless technologies which underpin today’s $4.5 trillion mobile economy. What is particularly exciting is what their research and innovation will enable next, as their contributions shape the contours of soon-to-be-released 5G Advanced and the early definitions of the 6G roadmap.
Their ongoing research means that Diana and Catalina will continue to play crucial roles in our wireless team and will no doubt leave their marks on consumer devices and connected experiences for years to come.
During InterDigital’s showcase at Mobile World Congress 2023 in Barcelona, our leaders, engineers, and inventors demonstrated our wireless, video, and AI/ML innovations enabling the future of connected ecosystems.
More than 88,000 participants traveled to the Gran Fira for the annual telecom conference and InterDigital was pleased to welcome a variety of visitors to experience our innovative research and industry collaborations that leverage AI/ML to enhance wireless network behaviors beyond 5G, provide rendering and delivery solutions for high quality HDR content, and shape standards for immersive and sensory-enhanced video experiences.
InterDigital left a strong mark on visitors through our technology demonstrations and public engagement. We held a variety of meetings, interviews, and briefings to outline the importance of our innovative research and bring attention to important issues facing our tech ecosystem.
Our wireless and video demos displayed how InterDigital’s pioneering research sits at the intersection of wireless and video and introduced the ways AI/ML can be applied to critical network components to enable the devices, services, and experiences that define connected ecosystems.
AI-Enabled Experiences Beyond 5G– At MWC, we demonstrated our innovations that leverage AI/ML to enhance network behaviors beyond 5G to improve user experience under radio link degradation. Using an emulated 5G network provided by Anritsu, we remotely and seamlessly controlled a robotic arm via live video feed through a VR headset to demonstrate how InterDigital’s solutions help enhance and overcome adverse network conditions that would otherwise impact user experiences.
Ensuring Quality Streaming and Rendering for 4K HDR Video– In addition, we showcased our video expertise in VVC and SL-HDR technology, which helps deliver some of the highest streaming and rendering quality for 4K HDR video. Our contributions in this space help enable the delivery of high-quality video content, a critical component of realistic, immersive virtual ecosystems.
Encouraging Seamless Digital Representation for Connected Communications– InterDigital engineers also demonstrated their latest research contributions to disruptive avatar-related technologies, including MPEG’s new 3D reference model for a humanoid avatar, furthering our effort to support a single virtual representation of users in connected environments.
Immersive Codecs Enabling Future XR Experiences- Immersive Codecs Enabling Future XR Experiences – We also highlighted the importance of our contributions to MPEG Immersive codecs in enabling future XR experiences. At our booth, we displayed how bandwidth-heavy volumetric video content can be seamlessly streamed over an enhanced 5G network using open video standards like video point cloud compression (V-PCC), and how sensory-enhanced experiences can be more efficiently streamed with the new MPEG-Haptics standard.
Throughout the show, we spotlighted InterDigital’s innovative contributions in video and wireless that will help unlock exciting and immersive experiences in the future. Our demos were bolstered by the debut of our concept video, illustrating InterDigital’s long-term impact of enabling new technologies and solutions that make connected spaces more immersive while helping to establish a more seamless interface between physical, digital, and virtual worlds. You can view the video below.
Our booth and demos helped illustrate that the connected ecosystems that define our present, and our future, are all underpinned by a foundation of wireless and video technologies and standards that enable virtual experiences that are seamless, immersive, and realistic.
InterDigital’s Head of Wireless Labs Milind Kulkarni reiterated these important messages as a featured speaker during the “5G, AI, and XR for New Immersive Experiences” conference session, alongside fellow experts from Ericsson and Qualcomm. The discussion, moderated by EY’s Edwina Fitzmaurice, addressed some of the forthcoming technologies and innovations and the importance of standards in enabling new capabilities for immersive experiences and services.
Innovation drives our impact at InterDigital, and our inventors and experienced researchers provide the fuel that propels our company, and our industry, forward. This year, we celebrate two outstanding inventors whose research and patented innovations have enabled critical technology features and helped shape global standards for wireless and video, and name both Paul Marinier and Karam Naser as winners of the 2023 Inventor of the Year award.
Paul Marinier - Senior Principal Engineer
Over the course of his more than two-decade career at InterDigital, Paul Marinier has developed hundreds of patented inventions that can be seen across critical wireless releases, as he helped shape the evolution of features over three generations of wireless systems: 3G HSPA, 4G LTE, and 5G NR. His more than 425 US and 3,150 patents granted worldwide have contributed significantly to the network capabilities that enable increased data rates, reduced latency, ultra-reliability, and power efficiency for improved battery life across all wireless generations.
As an active participant in 3GPP standards and a contributor to both RAN1 and RAN2 working groups, Paul has been deeply engaged in the creation and evolution of features that shape the radio access networks for wireless ecosystems. Paul’s contributions to spectrum aggregation solutions, such as carrier aggregation and dual connectivity, help fully utilize the available resources required to support applications with extremely high data rates. In fact, dual connectivity solutions have proven critical to enabling the first 5G deployments because they allow operators to continue using LTE deployments for connectivity while taking advantage of 5G’s high data rates and reduced latency.
Paul’s inventions have also shaped features like ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC), improving support for use cases like smart sensors and smart actuators for use in factories and other industrial applications. He has also held leadership responsibilities in RAN1 to coordinate work related to URLLC and improving device reachability.
Paul takes pride in the applicability of his inventions across the wireless industry, recognizing the visible and tangible benefit wireless evolution has delivered to society at large. Looking towards the future, Paul is excited to continue to apply his innovation expertise to bolster the capabilities of our networks, especially to support the growth of Extended Reality (XR) devices, services, and experiences that will define next generation connected ecosystems.
Karam Naser - Principal Scientist
Charting a bright path since beginning his post-doctoral work in 2017, Karam Naser has developed a strong portfolio of patented inventions that have contributed to the evolution and improvement of video compression standards. As a named inventor in 540 patent applications, Karam’s innovation impact is quickly building momentum.
Karam’s innovative drive was first inspired by electrical engineering pioneer Georg Ohm and a RWTH Aachen University professor of video compression also named Dr. Ohm, and over his career Karam has witnessed the tangible impact of video solutions on industry and the world at large. Karam’s inventions in critical areas like transform coding and intra-prediction straddle the balance of how to improve visual quality while maintaining the bitrate or to maintain high visual quality while reducing the bitrate, both pushing the limits of efficiency. Karam’s contributions to JVET and the MPEG Versatile Video Coding (VVC) standard and research into next-generation video coding enable new compression technologies that can enhance compression efficiency beyond state-of-the-art solutions and support more exciting content and experiences in the future.
As immersive experiences such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and 3D video streaming become increasingly popular, Karam believes that now is a great time to be an inventor. He shared, “in ten years, a new world of immersive technologies and communications will be more accessible to all because of the compression solutions we invent today.”
On behalf of InterDigital, we celebrate Paul and Karam as winners of our 2023 Inventor of the Year award, and celebrate their curiosity, perseverance, and innovative spirit that has pushed the potential for our future and made new capabilities in wireless and video possible.
There’s no doubt that the problem of patent holdout and the threat that it poses to the innovation economy is becoming a more prominent topic for debate. In several recent European court cases, judges have highlighted the problems of holdout and there is a growing body of academic research that has analyzed this issue.
Holdout will be one of the topics for discussion this month at a Symposium hosted by the Haas School of Business at UC-Berkeley. The Symposium, titled “The Impact of the Patent System on Markets for Technology,” will examine how to promote understanding of, and tackle problems in, technology licensing.
The event comes amid growing concerns about obstacles to the licensing of patents, in particular standard essential patents (SEPs). Patent holdout occurs when implementers launch products and services and then delay or decline to take a license to the patented technologies in their devices. The result is that the innovator cannot capture value from their patented technologies in a timely manner and may not be fairly compensated for their investment in R&D. Additionally, implementers who play by the rules may find themselves disadvantaged compared to competitors that holdout.
Patent holdout has been exacerbated in recent years by a range of factors including a decline in injunctive relief and a general weakening of IP rights in the US, and by attempts to use antitrust laws against SEP owners. Many patent practitioners and IP-owning companies are concerned these initiatives undermine innovation and disrupt the balance of the global IP system.
Holdout is often seen in industries that require interoperability based on technical standards, such as smartphones and the Internet of Things, where patent owners that participate in the development of these standards agree to license their SEPs on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. These standards are generally accessible by all and, because patents are not self-enforcing rights, implementers can offer products and services that use patented and standardized technologies even if these implementers delay or resist taking a FRAND license. Examples of patent holdout include refusing to negotiate, regularly postponing or canceling meetings, making unreasonable requests regarding license terms and royalties, and obstructing litigation.
The upcoming Symposium reflects the growing global focus on the role that patents play in building a knowledge economy and promoting innovation as a tool for growth. By facilitating the transfer of knowledge and enabling organizations to specialize at different stages of the value chain, a well-functioning patent system provides incentives to invest and contributes to efficient markets. It also helps to level the playing field between small, start-up companies and those that have much bigger resources.
However, when the patent system is weakened, implementers may view it as economically rational to hold out, disrupting the balance within the system. This provides obstacles to technology development, damages the incentive to innovate, and means that important technical contributions are not rewarded.
This issue has become more complex given the globalization of technology markets, and the different approaches taken by policy makers and judges in various jurisdictions in Europe, China, and India, as well as the U.S. One fear is that innovative companies will naturally gravitate to whichever country has the most balanced patent system—and at the moment that does not look like being the U.S.
A transaction-based knowledge economy depends on a robust IP system that encourages the division of labor and makes it rational to negotiate and to promote good faith discussions between parties. This Symposium promises to provide new perspectives on how we can achieve that.
In a new report from Lexis Nexis, InterDigital has one again been named as one of the world’s most innovative companies, confirming the strength of our foundational innovation in cellular and video technologies and the quality of our patent portfolio.
This is the second successive year that the company has been named in the Innovation Momentum: The Global Top 100 report which analyses patent portfolios from around the world and assesses which companies are impacting innovation today and those that are likely to shape innovation in the years to come. InterDigital is one of two companies on the list that Lexis Nexis characterizes as a technology R&D business. Other companies on the list include Apple, Ericsson and Qualcomm.
This year’s report also includes an interview with InterDigital CEO and President Liren Chen. In his interview Liren talks about how our patent portfolio acts as “the bridge between our foundational innovation and how we generate our revenue via licensing.” It is a very important factor in how we ensure that our technology translates from our research labs into billions of connected devices used by consumers every day. You can see the report here.
As a leading executive in the SEP licensing space, InterDigital’s Chief Licensing Officer Eeva Hakoranta has seen up close how the industry has evolved in recent years from shifts in the business environment, changes in case law and developments in policy. In her latest article in IAM, Eeva reflects on her top takeaways from SEP licensing in 2022 and how they might shape the SEP landscape in 2023.
In addition to being a Distinguished Scientist and impactful inventor of video and HDR solutions, InterDigital’s Erik Reinhard is passionate about the sustainability of the foundational technologies we develop, and is driving critical efforts to incorporate greater energy awareness across video standards bodies. In his latest article in TV Tech, Erik outlines how certain technological advances are helping to make sustainability within the broadcast industry and production media more achievable.
Read his full article Minimizing the Environmental Impact of Broadcast and Streaming Technology, here.
At InterDigital, the research we lead drives innovation and standards impact. Among our patented technologies and solutions, we develop and license the building blocks for video compression standards that have become ubiquitous in our daily lives because they are deployed in nearly all video-capable consumer devices.
For fifty years, InterDigital has consistently developed cutting-edge technologies. Today, as we center AI as an important part of our research and innovation, we have partnered with Silo AI, the largest private AI lab from the Nordics, to build a software framework to test AI-based video compression technologies developed by InterDigital’s Labs.
Silo AI worked with InterDigital to develop the CompressAI-Vision program suite, a software for image- and video-compression scientists to test, evaluate and train AI-based compression methods. Video Compression for Machines (VCM) research requires the management of large image and video datasets and the building of complex evaluation pipelines.
We firmly believe in the broad benefit of cross-company and industry collaboration, ensuring a continuously evolving ecosystem where companies can benefit from each other while smaller players have the opportunity to contribute. For this reason, CompressAI-Vision was recently released as an OpenSource Software, with positive feedback thus far. The tool frees the capacity of video researchers for other, more complicated tasks. Our commitment to industry collaboration, augmented by our research heritage and Silo AI’s leading AI expertise, has resulted in an innovative computer vision tool beneficial for the whole industry.
Jaideep Chandrashekar, Senior Director, Head of Emerging Technologies Lab at InterDigital, said:
"Silo AI's engineers worked very closely with InterDigital’s Emerging Technology Lab to translate research ideas into tools that take advantage of cutting-edge AI technologies, helping us deliver the CompressAI-Vision on time."
The AI-based compression methods have recently demonstrated their superiority to traditional image compression methods like JPEG and state-of-the-art video compression codecs used in still picture modes, such as H.265/HEVC. While usually designed for content to be viewed by human eyes, visual compression methods can also be optimized for computer vision tasks, such as object detection and segmentation from images. However, the evaluation pipelines in that context can become quite complex. Typically, in addition to compression and decompression, they include pre- and post-processing steps such as cropping, rescaling, framerate adaptation, and more. The final decoded content is then passed through a neural network-based detection algorithm. The performance of the whole pipeline must be assessed with standard evaluation protocols, while the evaluation must be done using several image and video datasets, each including thousands of pictures and up to hundreds of video clips. Calculations are typically done in parallel at large GPU clusters.
CompressAI-Vision is a tool that facilitates the construction of evaluation pipelines, the evaluation of custom image compression models, and the management of large image and video datasets.
Peter Sarlin, CEO & Co-founder at Silo AI, says:
"The work with InterDigital is an excellent example of putting AI at the core of a digital platform. The AI-based tool we’ve built enables more efficient use of advanced technologies, making it well-aligned with our vision of building human-centric AI that frees researchers to do meaningful work."
More about Silo AI:
Silo AI is one of Europe’s largest private AI labs – a trusted AI partner that brings competitive advantage to product R&D. We build AI-driven solutions and products to enable smart devices, autonomous vehicles, industry 4.0, and smart cities. Silo AI provides its customers a unique access to world-class AI expertise, as well as the Silo OS infrastructure to speed up AI development and deployment. Established in 2017, Silo AI is on a mission to build a European flagship AI company, with offices currently in Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland.
It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of our founder, Sherwin Seligsohn.
Sherwin was a true pioneer in connected technologies, founding the company that came to be known as InterDigital in 1972. Our first public innovation was a portable analog radio system in the 450 Mhz band, including a wireless handheld analog telephone capable of connecting to a public network. 50 years later, technology has evolved but Sherwin’s passion for innovation and connectivity remains engrained in InterDigital’s DNA.
Our thoughts are with Sherwin’s friends and family, and we will carry his legacy with us.
Intellectual property protection is one of the most crucial components to strengthen the technological sovereignty and competitive advantage of France, and the European Union. At a time when emerging technologies like AI, 6G, virtual reality, and augmented reality are becoming essential for many sectors of the economy, it is important to know how to protect intellectual property and strengthen cutting-edge research in this dynamic and changing ecosystem.
France and the EU must strengthen their strategic autonomy and technological sovereignty: this is one of the obvious lessons of the consequences of the COVID crisis and the unstable geopolitical context. To enable the development of world-class European champions, companies must invest in the development of their intellectual property, but also in their ability to protect and enhance it. Intellectual property must be a central element of any innovation strategy and an essential part of French and European recovery plans.
For this purpose, patents and licenses are incentives for investments in research and development of standards.
This issue was the focus of a roundtable discussion organized by InterDigital on September 30 in Paris, in conjunction with the rollout of the France 2030 Plan and the European Union's Innovation Agenda, in partnership with France Brevets and entitled "Innovation and Intellectual Property: What Responses from France and Europe."
The event brought together several high-level experts to discuss these issues, including Innovation Policy Advisor and Access to Finance at the European Commission and Director General of Research and Innovation Marie-Josée Rodi-Andrieu, France Brevets Director General Didier Patry, AFNOR’s Director of Innovation and Standards Franck Lebeugle, Orange Group’s Director of Research Jean Bolot, and Director of R&I - R&D at InterDigital Valérie Allié.
Throughout their discussions, the speakers reviewed the most effective tools to support innovation and research, promote the strategic impact of intellectual property, and discussed methods to better protect standardized technologies.
Here are the main points discussed and the experts' analyses on them:
KEY TAKEAWAY: For innovative companies, there is a positive correlation between owning intellectual property rights and the economic performance of companies. SMEs that own IP rights have 68% more revenue (1).
European Commission’s Marie-Josée Rodi-Andrieu shared: "Intellectual property is a source of revenue for companies and therefore for the economy of the European Union as a whole. A reliable intellectual property framework is the best way to harness creativity and enable innovative companies to grow. IP is also a key lever to support the EU's resilience and economic recovery in times of crisis. [...] This is why further progress in this area is mentioned in the new European Innovation Agenda."
KEY TAKEAWAY: Start-ups, SMEs and French and European companies need incentives to invest in research and innovation, support the development of core technologies and work towards their integration into global standards. Without these incentives, companies would lose their leadership in global standards bodies, which could also jeopardize the interoperability of technologies. One potential solution would be to make better use of existing European Commission legislation to fight countries or companies guilty of intellectual property theft or "hold out" (the practice of using patented and standardized technologies without paying the required license for their use).
According to Orange Group’s Jean Bolot, “Intellectual property is vital for large companies. The acceptability rate of patents filed, and the acceptance rate of publications are markers of excellence awarded to the company.”
KEY TAKEAWAY: Europe needs to put in place more incentives to invest in research, which is essential to achieve the EU's strategic goals, including support for the digital and green transition. The continued development of wireless technologies like 4G/5G/6G and WIFI is critical to the success of the EU's industrial policies on autonomous cars, connected machines and IoT devices, chip manufacturing and cloud computing, etc.
Didier Patry, Managing Director of France Brevets, explained: "If cutting-edge and disruptive technologies developed by innovative companies including start-ups and SMEs are used by other players without proper authorization and without a license from the company which invested in such R&D, this creates a competitive disadvantage, removes all incentives to invest in R&D and take risks, and consequently directly threatens the entire innovation and deep-tech ecosystem at a time where France and the EU invest massively in R&D-intensive and IP-rich programs. We must therefore fight vigorously against those who compete unfairly and take advantage without providing any return to the innovators who contribute to a better society."
InterDigital’s R&I Director Valérie Allié added: "The European Commission needs to recognize and emphasize the link between its overall actions and objectives and the potential negative impacts of the evolving framework for standard essential patents (SEPs). A disconnect between these two elements could reduce the return on R&D investments and discourage innovators from bringing new technological solutions to standardization processes. In general, we advocate market-driven solutions and enforcement of existing rules rather than the introduction of top-down legislation and new obligations, especially for research-intensive companies."
KEY TAKEAWAY: Successful digital transition requires systemic coordination in the development of and adherence to policies for standard essential patents. The European Union has a proven track record of defending its innovative companies in the 5G ecosystem. Today, the EU must maintain consistency and an in-depth understanding of global issues, including coordination of IP policies to support a level playing field with third countries.
Franck Lebeugle, AFNOR’S Director of Standardization Activities added: "The European standardization organizations are formidable tools for promoting intellectual property and bringing innovation to our companies at the European level and beyond. As European Commissioner Thierry Breton reminded us when the new European standardization strategy was published, it is not so much a question of changing the rules that currently prevail, but to make full use of them for the benefit of our companies and, more broadly, our industrial sovereignty."
Interns and mentors in InterDigital's Montreal Office. L to R: Gurdeep Bhullar; Dhruvi Goyal (Intern); Ariel Glasroth (Intern); Adhavan Thirumurthy (Intern); Adwaiit Rajjvaed (Intern); Saurabh Puri; and Srinivas Gudumasu
During the summer of 2022, InterDigital’s Montreal Office hosted several interns working on a variety of wireless and video topics.
Nearing the conclusion of their time at InterDigital, each of the interns reflected on the work they led and experiences they shared while developing and contributing to the research that fuels our company and sets a foundation for our industry. We thank each of our interns for their diligence and hard work and contributions to the Lab’s research.
Advaiit Rajjvaed: GSTH266enc: A Gstreamer Plugin for VVC Encoder
Adhavan Thirumurthy: A Framework for Real-time Delivery of V3C Point Clouds
Ariel Glasroth: Optimized End-to-end Adaptive Streaming of Volumetric Media
Dhruvi Goyal: Prototyping 3GPP Edge Evolution on the AdvantEDGE platform
Here’s more about each of the critical projects supported and the experiences fostered at InterDigital, in their own words.
GSTH266enc: A Gstreamer plugin for VVC encoder
During this project, Advaiit helped develop a custom Gstreamer element for the Versatile Video Codec (VVC) encoder named as GstH266enc, with the goal of extending the capabilities of the existing cloud gaming platform to support newer codecs. Advaiit was exposed to the Gstreamer open-source framework for designing multimedia processing pipelines in software, and his work included helping to develop a generic Gstreamer plugin that can easily be extended to support multiple low-level VVC implementation. Through this project, Advaiit was able to familiarize himself with the latest video coding jargon and video coding standards like VVC.
Advaiit Rajjvaed: “Interning at InterDigital has been, and continues to be, a transformative experience for me. Not only have I been exposed to the research side of technology, but also to a very inviting and inclusive culture. I have been working on very important aspects of Gstreamer and video encoding while here, and working with smart engineering mentors has certainly added a lot of perspective to my way of thinking when it comes to solving engineering problems. As an engineer, I will forever be grateful to InterDigital for the technical exposure, access to very capable engineering mentors and the work culture I received!”
Optimized End-to-end Adaptive Streaming of Volumetric Media
Ariel’s work was dedicated to helping to optimize an end-to-end system for adaptive streaming of volumetric media, such as point clouds coded using the volumetric visual video-based coding (V3C) standard or immersive 360 videos with three degrees-of-freedom, using dynamic adaptive streaming over HTTP (DASH). Ariel’s responsibilities included developing scripts, packaging the encoded media in standards-based containers, like ISO/IEC 23090-10, and implementing a dynamic rate adaptation module that could be utilized by streaming clients to optimize the quality of the rendered content at any given point, according to the available network conditions and client type. Throughout the project of developing the streaming client, Ariel was exposed to a variety of network protocols such as HTTP, HTTP/2 and QUIC.
Ariel Glasroth: “My time at InterDigital on the technical side of things had me work all around the processing pipeline of V-PCC video – starting by adding a newer revision of bitstream support to a packager and extractor, moving to updating a streamer to integrate vertically as a DLL – with HTTP, HTTP/2, and QUIC – to plug into a AR Unity demo which was extended for improved background process, UI and decoder logic to account for demoing streams of these V-PCC 3D videos. Although my job was technical by design, I also learned more than just technical skills from the other amazing interns and welcoming employees of InterDigital. From moving to a new province alone and knowing no one- I now have been shown around a new city, taught about the expansive differences between Canada and other foreign countries, and I was shown some of the most unique foods I had ever tasted. Truly a positive yet unique experience.”
A Framework for Real-time Delivery of V3C Point Clouds
During his internship, Adhavan helped to implement a framework for real-time delivery of volumetric point clouds for real-time communication applications. With a project based on the latest industry standards and that leverages well-known open-source frameworks for delivering media processing pipelines, like Gstreamer, Adhavan was exposed to a variety of network protocols such as the real-time transport protocol (RTP), the session description protocol (SDP), and Web Real-time Communication (WebRTC). Adhavan also learned how to perform signalling between the communicating endpoints and package the compressed point cloud content in network packets for delivery.
Adhavan Thirumurthy: “Working at InterDigital has been an exciting and informative experience. I have learned a lot about video codecs, containers and different networking protocols used for real-time streaming. I had excellent mentorship to help guide me through the hurdles faced while working on my project and to assist me while climbing the initial technical learning curves. Beyond work, I had a fantastic time living in Montreal and hanging out with my coworkers and newfound friends. My time here has been memorable, and I would love to return!”
Prototyping 3GPP Edge Evolution on the AdvantEDGE platform
During her 8-month internship with the Future Wireless North America (FWNA) team, Dhruvi, a Masters student from the University of Ottawa, has contributed to integrating 3GPP’s standardized Release-17 APIs within InterDigital’s AdvantEDGE, a testbed used to conduct prototyping efforts on Edge in 3GPP networks. As a result of Dhruvi’s work, the team was able to identify multiple issues with the Release-17 APIs, which were then contributed upstream towards CT1 Stage-3 Edge specifications. Dhruvi also worked alongside her teammates to define and extend AdvantEDGE’s prototyping capabilities to experiment with new edge computing use cases, because demonstrating and validating new ideas helps technology development and the contribution of technology to future 3GPP releases. A portion of Dhruvi’s work will be showcased at the Brooklyn 6G Summit in October.
Dhruvi Goyal: “Working at InterDigital has been nothing but a great learning experience for me. As an intern I have been given great opportunities to learn and work on technology that contributes to improving 3GPP standards. I developed new software development skills and got to work on some exciting tech stack. I had wonderful mentors who always guided me and pushed me towards improvement. Here at InterDigital I made some good friends and I love spending time with them, be it over lunch, a game of foosball or after work. I am looking forward to next term of my internship and the opportunities to come.”
To learn more about internships and opportunities at InterDigital, please click here.
The convergence of wireless and video technology has spurred tremendous innovation and has the potential to revolutionize industries. With research heritage and expertise in both wireless and video, InterDigital is proud to be at the forefront of this innovation as we explore and enable new opportunities for the myriad ways they intersect.
This month, engineers from InterDigital’s Video Labs showcased their latest innovations in video coding and high dynamic range (HDR) solutions at São Paulo's SET Expo, the largest media and entertainment industry event in Latin America. Brazil is a world leader in next-generation digital broadcasting and the nation is home to SBTVD, a technical standard for broadcast television used throughout Latin America. In fact, SBTVD was among the world’s first broadcast standards to adopt the latest versatile video coding (VVC) format for its over-the-air (OTA) and over-the-top (OTT) applications.
VVC - Versatile Video Coding
InterDigital’s contributions to VVC have been noteworthy, and it is important to understand how VVC sets up the video industry for future growth.
Ultra-High Definition (UHD) video, or high-definition formats at resolutions of 4K and above, is widely anticipated across industry, and 5G is helping to prepare for its arrival. By 2025, 5G is expected to be the most widely deployed wireless network standard globally, and video is expected to account for roughly 80 percent of all mobile network traffic by that time. With each passing year, UHD video will account for an increasing share of that traffic, and that avalanche of dense video data will demand more efficient video codecs.
A video codec, shorthand for encoder/decoder, is a technology that facilitates the transfer of raw uncompressed video data from an original source into a compressed format that faithfully renders on a given display. The “art” of compression requires a bit of a tradeoff – the raw source file is of the highest quality but consumes an impractical amount of bandwidth for storage or transmission over airwaves or the internet. A compressed file retains the most important information for displaying a high-quality image, while dramatically reducing the file size. It’s a delicate balance between improving image quality without increasing file size or bandwidth and InterDigital’s research and innovation has contributed to compression algorithms and strategies that make it easier to achieve that balance. We are getting closer to the point where compressed video is nearly indistinguishable to the human eye from its raw source files.
Even as major streaming providers, with support from wireless network operators, have been eager to push toward UHD, broadcast and cable providers been somewhat reluctant to make the UHD transition. Unlike cellular wireless, where 3GPP is the dominant global standard, the video ecosystem features a variety of competing codec standards, including alternatives to the historically prevalent AVC, HEVC, and VP9, so there remains discussion around which codec will emerge as the go-to solution for most video applications and hardware.
Historically, dominant codecs have emerged despite the existence of multiple competing codecs. Over the past 25-30 years we've seen this pattern repeat: in 1994, MPEG-2 came into prominence; the first version of the AVC/H.264 codec was released in 2003 and later gained prevalence; HEVC/H.265 launched in 2013 and is still fairly dominant; and VVC/H.266 was launched in 2020 and is growing fast.
Major standards evolutions and codec transitions don’t happen overnight, and it will take several years before the new VVC coding standard is widely embedded throughout the video chain. Still, we anticipate that VVC has a promising future.
Not only is VVC already an excellent solution for 2D video, but as the ‘versatile’ in its name suggests, it's built to address a range of applications as video broadens to encompass 3D and other immersive content. As a hybrid video codec based on HEVC, VVC also leverages the commonalities with its predecessor to help it run more efficiently across a wider range of hardware. Efficient VVC is capable of a 40 to 50 percent reduction in bitrate compared to HEVC. As resolutions approach the 4K and 8K range, frame rates increase, and a greater percentage of overall video is delivered over 5G networks, efficiencies of this magnitude will be very attractive to the industry.
For these, and additional reasons, we believe VVC is poised to be the next predominant codec for the video industry.
High Dynamic Range (HDR)
InterDigital is also leading the way in developing next generation technologies and award-winning solutions for high dynamic range (HDR) content. Through Advanced HDR by Technicolor, a research collaboration between InterDigital, Philips and Technicolor, we are ushering in the HDR era by accelerating the effort to make more HDR content available. As industry transitions from SDR to HDR content, a major challenge is ensuring flawless “backward compatibility,” so that a similar caliber of content can be enjoyed regardless of the quality of the display capability. Our contributions to Advanced HDR solutions automate the SDR-HDR conversion process for both live TV and post-production while ensuring the highest HDR quality rendering, thereby maintaining creative intent.
These solutions are significant for consumers and audiences because most people do not upgrade their TV sets as frequently as technology advances happen, thus leaving a delta between what audiences expect and what they actually experience. If our solutions didn’t support backward compatibility, a UHD stream with HDR wouldn’t render properly on older standard dynamic range (SDR) TVs in consumers premises.
We’re proud to share that our Advanced HDR by Technicolor solution performs as well for live events as it does for more sophisticated post-production of film and TV programming, owing in part to its innovative use of machine learning (ML). The ML algorithms allow content producers to deliver consistent image quality regardless of whether the content type is a live event, video-on-demand, or post-production.
In fact, our Advanced HDR solutions excel in live sports broadcast settings, where changes in lighting can cause havoc for production crews. Our contributions help Advanced HDR by Technicolor adjust dynamically to changes in light levels and perform light corrections on the fly.
V3C – Visual Volumetric Video-based Coding
In partnership with Philips, InterDigital also showcased new codecs and use cases associated with the MPEG Visual Volumetric Video-based Coding (V3C) standard, including Video-based Point Cloud Compression (V-PCC) and MPEG Immersive Video (MIV) codecs. Point clouds and immersive video with depth or transparency are complex sets of data representing points in space, and these codecs represent standardized formats for three-dimensional volumetric video compression. These standards are coming into increasing prominence as the industry moves toward more use of immersive video, extended reality (XR) and volumetric video.
Both V-PCC and MIV have been adopted by the SBTVD Forum to fulfill XR requirements for TV3.0 in Brazil, making it one of the first countries in the world to encourage widespread use of these new immersive technologies. Standards developed by SBTVD are published via Brazil’s national standards organization Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas (ABNT) and are widely used in the Latin American region. The rising popularity of XR applications around the world has driven the media industry to explore the creation and delivery of immersive experiences through volumetric video, which consists of a dynamic sequence of frames where each frame is a 3D representation of a real-world object or scene capture at a different point in time.
Whether video is being consumed on a handheld device, or the latest 85-inch UHD TV, our contributions to both the VVC codec and Advanced HDR solutions make the experience better. We’re helping to ensure videos come in sharper, with richer colors, with higher dynamic range, more realism, and all while maintaining the artist’s original intent.
As InterDigital celebrates our 50th anniversary, our heritage of innovation in these critical areas continues to move the industry forward.
Here’s a snapshot of the last 50 years of history and achievement at InterDigital.
1972: The company today known as InterDigital was founded by Sherwin Seligsohn as International Mobile Machines Corporation (IMM). Led by a young innovator with a keen desire to stay connected, the company’s first product line was a portable analog radio system in the 450 Mhz band, including a wireless handheld analog telephone capable of connecting to a public network.
Mid-1970s: As analog cellular technology emerged, IMM engineers turned to the Time Division Multiple Access (TMDA) method to create a wireless cell phone system to support the eventual emergence of the pocket cellular telephone.
1976: During U.S. bicentennial celebrations in Philadelphia, IMM demonstrated its wireless telephone in Fairmount Park, the same place where Alexander Graham Bell made his first demonstration of the telephone 100 years earlier.[ref]
1981: IMM goes public.
1986: IMM introduces its digital Ultraphone system, pioneering fixed wireless access to remote and developing areas unwired by copper telephone systems. IMM’s first UltraPhone System was installed in the mountains of Glendo, Wyoming to serve rural communities.
1990: Prior to the commercialization of cellular, IMM is tapped to provide secure digital communications to support the rescue mission for the Avianca flight disaster in Long Island.
1992: IMM acquires SCS Mobilecom and SCS Telecom Inc., and the companies merge to create InterDigital Communications Corp. (ICC), under the leadership of CEO William Erdman.
Mid-1990s: InterDigital establishes technology partnerships and research alliances with several industry leaders, including German electronics giant Siemens AG, Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and French electronics firm Alcatel.
1997: InterDigital demonstrated a broadband CDMA solution that delivered video over wireless, a pioneering innovation three years before the first commercial 3G networks were launched in 2000.
1998: InterDigital forged a four-year partnership with Nokia to leverage InterDigital’s wideband patent position and develop 3G cellular phones.
2000s: Throughout the 2000s and early 2010s, InterDigital was at the forefront of developing 4G and 5G technologies. With representation in all major global wireless standards organizations throughout our history, InterDigital has helped develop and shape technologies in every aspect of the network – from handsets to base stations and mobile edge computing; from IoT sensors to streaming video and beyond.
2005: Bill Merritt is appointed InterDigital’s President and CEO, and member of the Board of Directors.
2007-2008: InterDigital develops and launches its SlimChip mobile broadband modem at Mobile World Congress (MWC), delivering performance hailed by Signals Research as among the industry’s best.
2012: Intel acquires ~10% of InterDigital’s patent portfolio for $375 million.
2013: InterDigital becomes a significant industry player after arbitration win and license with Apple ODM Pegatron grows to 37% of revenue. InterDigital signs agreement to arbitrate with Huawei, leading to a historic first Chinese license with a market leader.
2013: InterDigital demonstrates one of the world’s first working 5G platforms at MWC.
2013: Bloomberg recognizes InterDigital as most profitable company in the US on a per worker basis, and names Bill Merritt among “Tech’s Top Turnaround Artists.”
2014: InterDigital signs landmark 10-year license agreement with Samsung.
2016: InterDigital signs license agreements with Apple and Huawei.
2018-2019: InterDigital establishes one of the largest long-term R&D and licensing companies in the world with the acquisition of the Technicolor Patent and Research & Innovation (R&I) organizations. The acquisition expanded InterDigital’s research team and capabilities far beyond wireless to include video, AR, immersive content, AI, and other key areas.
2020: InterDigital becomes an industry trailblazer by launching a licensing transparency initiative to make more accessible expanded information about the company’s standards essential patent (SEP) licensing rate program, rate structure, licensing and arbitration principles, and important data about the SEP portfolio. The launch set an industry standard and highlighted the fairness and flexibility of our licensing approach.
2020: InterDigital pioneers licensing relationships with leading Chinese telecommunications device makers. InterDigital resolves a nine-year licensing dispute by signing a license with ZTE, and later signed a licensing deal with Chinese device maker Huawei.
2021: InterDigital welcomes Liren Chen as President and CEO and member of the Board of Directors.
2022: InterDigital has grown from a net loss position with roughly one year’s working capital to just under $1 billion in cash with just over $1.5 billion returned to shareholders over the last 15 years.
2022: Recognized as a leader in wireless and video architecture and design, and delivery of advanced technology platforms, InterDigital has been an integral contributor to the development of every generation of wireless technology and the evolution of video ecosystems.
As an industry pioneer over the last 50 years and through to today, InterDigital's innovations, technologies and solutions have been licensed to more than 6 billion devices worldwide.
From conversation with InterDigital Vice President of Technology Alan Stein
The evolution of television has been fostered by innovations that fundamentally enhance the visual impact of our viewing experiences. A ground-breaking innovation in television evolution was sparked by the introduction of high dynamic range (HDR) production and display solutions that enhance the viewing experience with crisper content and more vibrant colors on high-definition televisions. Alongside complementary innovations across the video ecosystem, InterDigital is a leading contributor to an award-winning suite of HDR technology solutions that are today unlocking new opportunities for the video ecosystem.
But first, a look back at history.
The earliest television content was exclusively broadcast in black-and-white after television sets gained widespread adoption in the 1940s following WWII. After the introduction of the color television in the 1960s, television manufacturers had to accommodate state-of-the-art color television broadcasts on both color-capable televisions, as well as on older, black-and-white televisions. It was imperative to create a solution that ensured broadcasts designed for color-capable televisions could also be decoded and applied “backwards” to display a comparable quality picture on black-and-white displays.
The concept of “backwards compatibility” has fueled innovation in the video ecosystem by offering solutions that support the highest quality of content while also optimizing broadcasts to older versions of devices and capabilities. Fast forward to today, and the latest innovations in television are still being bolstered by backwards-compatible technology techniques to foster the highest quality broadcast regardless of display type.
In fact, contributions made by InterDigital and industry partners Philips and Technicolor to the award-winningAdvanced HDR by Technicolor* solutions have helped democratize device access to some of the highest quality, most visually enhanced content. As audiences begin to demand and consume more high-definition content, InterDigital’s Advanced HDR contributions ensure that consumers who receive HDR content on a standard-dynamic range (SDR) device, or even SDR content received on an HDR device, can enjoy the highest-quality visual experience.
What is Advanced HDR by Technicolor?
A suite of HDR production, distribution, and display solutions developed through the research and technology contributions of InterDigital and Philips, Advanced HDR by Technicolor fundamentally enhances the image quality and the viewing experience for both HDR and SDR video content. A valuable television technology, our state-of-the-art solutions can format both SDR and HDR content without compromising the viewing experience of each unique display, regardless of device capability.
In production, HDR depends on the type of content being watched, whether live or pre-broadcast, produced in a studio or outdoors. In a live sports context, producers are primarily concerned with ensuring lighting levels are consistent, so they do not distract from the viewing experience, whether on an HDR or SDR television. As such, our HDR solutions may be leveraged for live broadcasts of outdoor sports, as it uses machine learning to mitigate dynamic changes in natural light and to deliver high quality images for live events in real time.
In fact, the solutions provided by Advanced HDR by Technicolor were recently adopted by Sinclair Broadcasting Group, a media conglomerate owning TV stations in more than 100 U.S. markets, with critical coverage of live news, sports, and more. By incorporating our HDR solutions within their broadcasts, a Sinclair station may use the ATSC 3.0 standard to deliver HDR and high-definition content to all viewers, but a local subscriber with an SDR television can still receive the HDR content optimized for their SDR device. Regardless of the caliber of the viewing device, the solutions we provide through Advanced HDR by Technicolor ensure the viewing experience is optimized.
Alternatively, cinematic productions pose different challenges than live broadcasts. In situations where a cinematographer is involved, artistic decisions around light and color are more easily controlled, with some scenes presenting more brightly lit scenes while others are saturated with dark colors and lower intensity light.
An example of the importance of HDR technology solutions was revealed during a climactic battle scene in Season 8 of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Specifically, show producers were criticized for the very low levels of ambient light during what was heralded as the longest battle sequence ever filmed in cinematic history, “The Battle of Winterfell”. Viewers of the episode largely complained that critical scenes were dark and unclear, with show producers suggesting that the culprit could be improperly configured display devices, streaming from a lower bitrate source, or a combination of these factors. From another perspective, the show directors also claimed that the darkness of the episode was artistically enhanced to convey the horror and confusion of war, but the intended artistic effect likely did not arrive to viewers without properly-configured HDR technology and devices.
Most televisions are factory-configured to showcase the best display in a brightly lit showroom, but most television buyers don’t adjust or optimize their television settings for typical viewing in a darker living room after installation. In the example from Game of Thrones, many of the televisions and devices used to watch the episode were not configured to showcase the dark and shadowy tones of the battle scenes as the show creators intended.
Content is a critical component of the video ecosystem, and as consumers begin to expect more immersive video, the ability to preserve a content creator's original intent in SDR, while also delivering high-quality HDR content, helps democratize access to immersive viewing experiences. InterDigital’s contributions to Advanced HDR by Technicolor offer critical solutions to optimize content delivery for both HDR and SDR devices, while preserving the creative intent of the content creator.
Like many groundbreaking innovations, HDR is challenged with the chicken-or-the-egg approach to adoption of this new technology and its enabled content. Interested audiences may be wary to purchase HDR televisions until there is a greater amount of HDR content to consume, while broadcasters are apprehensive to publish HDR content if more consumers do not have the appropriate devices on which to enjoy them. Critically, our HDR solutions help to accommodate both SDR and HDR device types while seeding the ground to support the crisper, more immersive HDR content that audiences desire as more consumers transition from SDR to HDR devices.
As we innovate towards the future, newer platforms and greater diversity in device types will emerge. Our contributions to the solutions provided by Advanced HDR by Technicolor provide a critical ingredient to deliver the best television viewing experience, regardless of circumstance.
*Advanced HDR by Technicolor is a trademark owned by Technicolor and licensed to Philips.
From conversations with Ghyslain Pelletier and Paul Marinier
Operators have craved flexibility to accommodate the proliferation of devices and use cases emerging in our increasingly connected world. 5G promises to efficiently support significantly more use cases than any previous generation of wireless and provides a high level of versatility to serve each use case according to its specific needs. The solutions fueled by spectrum aggregation techniques, many pioneered and patented by InterDigital, have defined this fundamental capability of 5G.
What Is Spectrum Aggregation?
Spectrum aggregation helps operators achieve greater flexibility in wireless network deployments to accommodate more types of devices, new services and new use cases. This approach is shaped by two key concepts: carrier aggregation and dual connectivity, both of which enable operators to perform transmissions using different frequency resources. Operators typically receive licenses to operate within designated frequency bands, or carriers within a band, and spectrum aggregation technologies allow operators to simultaneously access and deploy their resources to maximize user data rates and system throughput.
Carrier aggregation occurs when an operator adds a carrier, or additional transmission frequencies, within or between frequency bands using the same node. This allows a user device to connect to a network using different frequencies in the same node.
In contrast, dual connectivity occurs when a mobile device or user equipment (UE) connects to two different nodes, generally for different purposes – i.e., one for reliable connection and control information and the other for high data rates. Dual connectivity helps ensure quality of service and reliability, while adding redundancy to a connection to make it more robust. These techniques are considered spectrum aggregation because they enable a mobile device to efficiently use multiple pieces of the spectrum .
The path to achieving 5G’s potential is shaped by spectrum aggregation solutions. These techniques help user devices simultaneously connect to multiple carriers and frequency bands while supporting communications with multiple synchronous or asynchronous nodes and schedulers. As 5G deployments begin and continue in various parts of the world, existing network systems must be able to simultaneously support transmissions from LTE and 5G NR (New Radio), and beyond.
Understanding InterDigital’s Innovations
At a foundational level, every cellular transmission is expected to allocate the appropriate amount of power required by both the node, or base station, and the user device. The prevalence of dual connectivity has made power determination more complex because different connections, though made simultaneously, might have different power requirements for the user device, which is typically more power-constrained than the node. Through our research leadership and collaboration within industry consortia, InterDigital developed a power-sharing solution to address this common challenge and make dual connectivity more efficient for the user device.
Traditionally, the amount of power a user device expends on transmissions in the uplink is determined by the scheduling information it receives from the node in downlink. If a user device has two connections, it's possible that the transmissions occur simultaneously, and the device must then determine how much power it puts into each. Because the network sets the power requirements based on the scheduling information it sends in the downlink, the UE must frequently make tough choices to mitigate power allocation for two different nodes that may otherwise be unaware of each other or the requirements their transmission link is placing on the UE.
A conundrum arises when the sum of the power requirements of each node exceeds the maximum power a UE can transmit. At InterDigital, we dedicated research to develop a solution that enables the UE to mitigate and reconcile the scheduling requirement from both nodes if the total requirements exceed the UE’s maximum power availability.
Our solution is based on the understanding that both connections are necessary and neither connection should have priority access to all the available power of the UE. Through our expertise, we crafted a solution that uses a minimum level of power to maintain both connections, and when extra power is available, prioritize and allocate the resources between the connections. Our approach understands that one of the connections will take the higher priority if it's a more critical connection and follows a structure that keeps the system working and ensures connectivity is maintained at the most optimized level based on circumstances.
In practice, a lower frequency connection is used to carry the information that maintains the user's network connection and control plane, while the second connection might be to a higher frequency node, which may be used to achieve high data rates and throughput to transmit user data. In this scenario, even if the high-frequency connection happens to degrade significantly or fail, the UE won’t lose connectivity because the lower frequency connection is maintained.
Overall, power-distributed dual connectivity ensures greater reliability in lower frequency spectrum while maximizing throughput in higher frequency spectrum. This is because the power demands can be dynamically determined and allocated based on the demands of the UE.
This solution is especially impactful as we transition more fully into 5G. Because 4G and 5G can coexist in the same spectrum or geographic area, our solution allows users to use 4G connectivity to transmit according to 5G in the same frequency band, allowing network operators to reuse their LTE systems to deploy 5G data transfers. In this instance, although connectivity management is maintained at 4G levels, the data is transmitted according to 5G.
Control Plane Connection Management
As the telecoms industry gradually deploys standalone architecture 5G (5G SA), the solutions InterDigital has developed around power-sharing, dual connectivity, and control plane management provide a critical bridge between wireless generations. To ensure 4G and 5G can work together in the same UE, operators must be able to use 4G system protocols to configure some aspects and operations according to the 5G system. As such, InterDigital has developed methods to enable 4G networks to control the setup of transmissions according to 5G protocol. Using the “radio resource control protocol” for LTE, the control plane connection of 4G LTE communications is used to configure and control data transmissions for 5G.
In this instance, the exchange between 4G and 5G systems can happen via a variety of methods. The first could be described as a piggybacking of the information on a legacy connection, where the 4G control plane is extended to also be able to control 5G. The second creates a new signaling mechanism, extending the 4G connection to create a new control plane connection dependent upon signaling from 5G. Though the transmission is used to control the setup and configuration of 5G, the 4G connection manages the setup of the transmission and the signaling connection.
Radio Link Failure Handling
After enhancing connectivity and optimizing the control plane, it is important to determine how the system will respond if the connection degrades significantly or fails. Through our research, we developed a method to ensure that a failed connection doesn't necessarily disconnect a UE but instead enables the UE to determine when a connection has failed to help it reestablish a connection to that node or connect to a different cell. Because most network providers will rely on both 4G and 5G radio interfaces for the foreseeable future, our patented research made it possible for the network to use 4G to recover, restore, and reconfigure a failed 5G connection, a significant milestone in the evolution toward 5G.
Both 4G and 5G are based on orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) transmission techniques, so even though 5G taps higher frequencies, operators can utilize existing 4G deployments for connectivity. One of the first contemplated deployments of 5G considered the reuse of 4G sites with the addition of a 5G carrier to support higher data rates – a deployment scenario made possible by InterDigital’s innovations in dual connectivity. Dual connectivity is a keystone technology in the transition from 4G to 5G because it allows operators to leverage both capabilities and reduce deployment costs by using existing 4G system and speeding up time for making the benefits of 5G available to market.
Collaborative research effort between InterDigital, Philips, and Technicolor targeting video delivery and encoding secures significant industry partnerships
InterDigital, Inc. recently announced at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) 2022 show the successful adoption of the Advanced HDR by Technicolor technology solution by several industry partners. Produced by collaborative research contributions from InterDigital, Philips, and Technicolor Advanced HDR by Technicolor is a branded suite of high dynamic range (HDR) production, distribution and display solutions that leverage machine learning to maximize the image quality of any HDR format. Specifically, Advanced HDR by Technicolor is helping to shape the video delivery landscape through the development and adoption of ETSI standards to enable increasingly immersive video.
Alongside several live demonstrations of the Advanced HDR by Technicolor end-to-end distribution solution with industry partners at NAB, InterDigital and Philips also showcased Advanced HDR by Technicolor’s new and unique “round-trip” feature that automates the SDR-HDR and HDR-SDR conversion processes for live TV and post-production operations while maintaining fidelity of the original content. Displayed at the Cobalt Digital booth at NAB, this groundbreaking feature was awarded the TVB Europe Best of 2022 award.
In addition to the introduction of this critical new “round trip” feature, Sinclair Broadcast Group also announced plans to leverage the suite of Advanced HDR by Technicolor solutions to help elevate high quality sports programming to more closely match live sporting experiences.
InterDigital and Advanced HDR by Technicolor
InterDigital’s leading-edge research and industry partnerships address key challenges in the evolution towards more immersive video experiences through the adoption of HDR technology. InterDigital’s partnership with Philips leverages our unique research expertise to shape the technologies included within Advanced HDR by Technicolor and position it for greater adoption in the U.S. and new HDR delivery opportunities in Brazil, China, and across the EU.
The suite of technologies presented by InterDigital and Philips within Advanced HDR by Technicolor continue to evolve to meet the needs of industry to support the delivery of HDR content for live events and broadcasts. Content is a critical component of the video ecosystem, and as consumers begin to expect more immersive video, the ability to preserve a content creator's original intent in standard dynamic range (SDR), while also delivering high-quality HDR content, helps democratize access to immersive viewing experiences. This makes Advanced HDR by Technicolor even more valuable, as it can format both SDR and HDR content without compromising the viewing experience of each unique viewer, regardless of device capability.
To encourage adoption of Advanced HDR by Technicolor by the broadest group of industry and business partners, InterDigital and Philips continue to actively support a variety of technology integrations and field trials, including technology demonstrations at conferences like NAB.
A recent draft policy statement from the Department of Justice on standard essential patent licensing has attracted plenty of opposition including from a bipartisan group of former government officials. As InterDigital’s Rob Stien explains in an article for InsideSources, the policy would play into the hands of implementer companies from China and Silicon Valley and would weaken American innovation. Find out more here.
Since our founding in 1972, InterDigital’s research and innovation has enabled every generation of cellular wireless, from the earliest analog to 5G and beyond, and unlocked new capabilities for increasingly immersive video content on a variety of devices and services. We are committed to not only inventing the technologies that make life boundless, but also exploring innovative solutions to make our technologies, and the world around us, more sustainable.
We recognize the responsibility to consider the environmental impact of our industry to develop sustainable solutions for the experiences we enjoy today, and for those that will be unlocked in the future.
Innovations in wireless have equipped networks and devices to support ubiquitous access to significant amounts of data, a preponderance of which are comprised of very high-quality video. By integrating the Technicolor research and innovation team within InterDigital’s research program, we significantly expanded our research focus to develop solutions and drive standards contributions to wireless as well as video distribution, coding, standards, and more.
As a pure research, innovation, and licensing company, we do not manufacture products or host services; instead, we work to ensure our innovations contribute to improvements in operating efficiencies, systemic reductions in energy consumption, and the integration of more sustainable solutions across our industry on a global scale.
Throughout our strategic business engagement, we remain mindful of our sustainability posture and the environmental impact of our business decisions and operations. We continue to explore opportunities to improve the efficiency and overall carbon footprint of the systems we develop and collaborate with industry partners to secure the widest possible adoption and environmental benefit of these solutions.
We are committed to investing in best practices to track and reduce our carbon footprint, including environmental considerations, tracking, and reporting related to data center needs of energy and emissions efficiencies. In 2021, InterDigital consumed 752.1 MWh of electricity in our global data centers, 209 MWh of which was offset with Green-e Energy certified Renewal Energy Credits.
Energy Aware Media
We are proud of our industry-leading Energy Aware Media project, focused on the development of more energy efficient video delivery solutions. This research, led in collaboration with Ateme, Enensys, and INSA and with support from the European Commission, has spearheaded energy-aware innovations available to both customers and the broader research community. In our Labs, we have also developed media compression techniques using leading edge Artificial Intelligence-based technology, as we expect AI will play a larger role in future wireless and video technologies to improve the quality of the user experience while reducing the energy footprint of underlying systems.
In addition, we recognize the importance of infusing environmental awareness throughout our contributions to critical standards bodies like 3GPP, the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), and the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC). We have managed this through a variety of leadership roles across esteemed standards bodies, including serving as co-rapporteur of the ITU-R group on Energy Aware Broadcasting, co-chair of the Green MPEG group, and as lead rapporteur for efforts across ETSI SAI (Securing Artificial Intelligence).
Within our Labs, we have also explored zero-energy technology as an integral contributor to improve the long-term sustainability of wireless networks and consumer electronics devices. Devices that can harvest energy or hibernate in near zero-energy states will significantly reduce the need and impact of large capacity batteries in our environment. This innovation is critical in mitigating the energy consumption of the billions of smartphones and connected IoT devices enabled by future wireless networks. In fact, zero energy technology is expected to completely eliminate the need for battery replacement, thus dramatically increasing the return-on-investment and mass proliferation of Internet-of-Everything (IoE) devices.
We showcase our research through a variety of academic papers, proposals, and IP disclosures to amplify the innovative and sustainable impact of our work. Our peer-reviewed and public papers address emerging sustainable solutions like zero-energy technology and wake-up radio and have been published in top tier IEEE conferences like ICC and GLOBECOM. In 2021, InterDigital’s engineering team received the IEEE 802.11ba award for their leadership in developing specifications for wake-up radio, an energy and power-saving technique that reduces transceiver energy consumption and enables ultra-low duty cycles for different devices at large scale deployments.
As part of our sustainability thought leadership, we have published several white papers exploring how 5G, innovations in video, and the emerging IoT ecosystem might shape global energy needs and sustainability efforts in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry. One of our recent reports found that by 2030, the impact of IoT deployment is projected to save more than eight times the energy it consumes – helping to save 230 billion cubic meters of water and eliminate one gigaton of CO2 emissions. You may access all the papers and webinars here.
At InterDigital, we innovate technologies and develop solutions upon which the world builds communities. Our work helps drive wireless connections and enables new use cases and user experiences while delivering benefits to consumers, enterprises, and communities worldwide. As we remain committed to this goal, it is imperative that our work also considers the importance of sustainability and our environmental impact.
Nearly a year after an InterDigital-driven energy consumption effort was proposed within the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and integrated within ITU-R Working Party 6G (WP 6C)’s responsibilities, the diverse team of experts have addressed the consideration of energy consumption within their research. While WP 6C’s purview of video and program production standards is specialized, the technologies they develop have a huge impact when they are eventually integrated into consumer electronics and associated services.
InterDigital’s Erik Reinhard was named co-rapporteur of this important sustainability endeavor, alongside the European Broadcasting Union’s Hemini Mehta, and he was also elected co-chair of the ITU-R Rapporteur Group on Energy Aware Broadcasting, guiding research discussions around energy aware media and other topics.
To introduce the outcomes and insights of their research, Erik and his fellow researchers will host a webinar on Energy Aware Broadcasting on March 23 to outline their work to minimize the environmental impact of content creation, exchange, and delivery. The webinar will feature perspectives on energy consumption in program production, ICT, media and entertainment, as well as broadcaster practices and panel discussion.
Register for the webinar on Energy Aware Broadcasting on Wednesday, March 23 at 3:00pm CET/ 10:00am EThere and stay tuned for more research and updates on this critical topic.
At InterDigital, we take pride in our heritage of demonstrating working systems years ahead of market rollout by showcasing our suite of patented system architecture and connectivity solutions that unlock and enable future generations of wireless.
While enterprises and consumers tangibly experience the benefits of technological evolutions through faster speeds and other new capabilities, InterDigital’s most transformational innovations are those we can’t see because they take place at the most foundational levels.
At InterDigital, we are systems engineers and solutions developers. We invent the building blocks that shape technology evolution.
InterDigital has been instrumental in the development of multiple generations of wireless technologies, from 2G to 3G, 4G and now 5G and beyond through standards contributions and leadership in wireless global research. We have been demonstrating working 5G platforms and prototype systems since 2013 and have been integral participants in global 5G projects including Horizon 2020 and the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Platform for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR).
While contributing to standards and exploring new wireless network architectures and solutions, InterDigital also led research examining and optimizing beam-based architectures with solutions that eventually laid a functional foundation for 5G.
Beamforming can be used to concentrate energy in specific directions and, as a result, improve the quality of signals (like cell phone signals) transmitted or received.
The beams that are formed have a main direction and can cover a wide or narrow area. The direction and coverage or “shape” of each beam can be created by adjusting the amplitude and phase of signals from the different antennas of an antenna array to create a combined signal (beam) having specific properties including direction, shape, and energy. Narrower beams have more concentrated energy in the main direction to tap into higher-frequency spectrum.
For 5G and beyond, which expand wireless communication into higher frequencies, beam-based operation is an integral design component that enables operators to achieve higher data rates and reliable user connections as well as for enhancing spectrum efficiency and boosting network capacity and coverage. More and narrower beams are needed as the frequencies increase.
In wireless network evolution from 4G to 5G, the transition from transparent beamforming, used by the network without mobile device knowledge, to a fully beam-based architecture with mobile device involvement, required a review and potential overhaul of many functions of the 4G system to enable this new capability. In anticipation of this transition, InterDigital committed our research expertise to determining what needed to be fixed, adapted, or adjusted to support this beam-based ecosystem.
Beam-based solutions became a primary focus of InterDigital’s research, and our Lab priorities and research collaborations reflected the critical importance of these solutions to support the eventual foundation for 5G.
Early on, while pioneering technologies for 3D and elevation beamforming, InterDigital developed a critical solution which became a cornerstone to enabling key functions of 5G, including the ability of a mobile device to connect and gain access, to the network.
InterDigital’s patented smart beam technology enables the mobile device (UE) and the network to converge on preferred transmit and receive beams very quickly. Our solution became a cornerstone for enabling key functions of 5G, including the ability for a mobile device to quickly gain access to a 5G network via the use of directional beams, which supports mobility and connection recovery.
One application of this technology in 5G is for beam alignment for initial access. The UE measures beam-based signals it receives from the network in the downlink (network to UE), selects one (e.g., the strongest one) and uses a “linked” resource or signal to transmit in the uplink (UE to network). For the transmission, the UE points its transmit beam in the opposite direction from the direction it used to receive the selected signal. Using the same linkage, the network knows the beam to use to receive the uplink transmission and knows the downlink beam selected by the UE. Both UE and network can proceed to communicate using these beams.
Beam alignment is essential for maximizing performance and achieving the full potential of 5G. This solution significantly reduces the time, overhead (signaling), and battery power needed to achieve that alignment.
While InterDigital developed this solution before higher frequencies were being discussed for 5G, it was anticipated that it would become increasingly important as wireless communication expanded to higher frequencies and transparent beamforming would no longer be sufficient.
Today, this critical solution for linking downlink and uplink beams for initial access, as well as other key functions, is foundational to 5G.
This January, InterDigital’s Chonggang Wang, together with a team of expert ETSI members, led the effort to develop a white paper introducing the groundbreaking concept of Permissioned Distributed Ledger (PDL).
As one of the new topics explored in InterDigital’s Future Wireless lab, Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) has emerged as a hyper-disruptive technology because of its ability to securely store and verify data as digital records distributed across multiple sites, without the need for a central administrator.
There are two types of distributed ledger systems split by access: Permissionless and Permissioned Distributed Ledgers (PDLs). Unlike permissionless systems, PDLs depend on their participating community to agree upon access control policies to maintain privacy and establish protocols to achieve higher transaction speeds and energy-efficiency, compared to permissionless solutions.
PDL and blockchain hold great promise for an array of emerging applications, and the Industry Specification Group (ISG) on PDL at ETSI are drafting new reference architectures to leverage PDL capabilities towards a new range of applications.
To detail the impact of this important work, InterDigital’s Chonggang Wang shares his expertise in answering the questions below.
IDCC Comms: Chonggang, you were the lead author, coordinating the ETSI white paper “Introduction of Permissioned Distributed Ledger (PDL),” alongside partners from Telefonica S.A., Kings College London, Huawei, PCCW Global, Motorola Mobility, China Unicom, ALASTRIA, and others. Can you help us understand distributed ledger technology and the impact it delivers to our system architectures?
Chonggang: I am honored to work with other DLT experts and leaders to co-develop this white paper and appreciate their great contribution. DLT is not a magic technology, but it magically integrates multiple components and techniques (e.g., cryptography, hashing/chaining, distributed ledgers, consensus protocols, and underlying peer-to-peer networks), which had been impossible and brings a combination of multiple unique features (e.g., decentralization, immutability, transparency). For example, DLT does not rely on a centralized party, but multiple distributed parties (e.g., ledgers, validators) to interact with each other and reach agreements, which makes the system more efficient, autonomous, reliable, and trustworthy. DLT is not only a decentralized technology but can be treated and leveraged as a design principle and philosophy to enable an Internet of Data/Value and result in numerous applications for future digital economy.
IDCC Comms: How might we see PDL technologies applied in the mobile industry? What use cases best display PDL’s capabilities?
Chonggang: On one hand, future wireless mobile systems will become more distributed and open as we have witnessed from today’s 5G technologies in edge computing and open radio access networks. On the other hand, such distributed and open mobile systems demand better efficiency, transparency, trustworthiness, accountability and so on. PDL technologies can definitely meet these demands, for instance, leveraging PDL to enable decentralized wireless artificial intelligence and decentralized spectrum and wireless resource sharing. As described in the white paper, “PDL can largely benefit the identification and authentication service to enable a more privacy-protected digital identification and authentication (i.e., using a digital identifier that can be self-sovereign and user-controlled) for seamless on-demand network access and service provision”. In fact, DLT has been broadly envisioned as a critical enabler to boost 6G.
IDCC Comms: As lead author of this white paper, what is the most important thing people should understand about PDL and its impact?
Chonggang: PDL reference architecture especially the PDL service layer sets the foundational framework for the entire PDL system. Other important areas include smart contracts, offline operations, distributed data management, and inter-ledger interoperability. In fact, this white paper aims to provide an introduction of the PDL system, which also includes use cases and advanced technologies. For deeper technical details, it’s highly suggested to also check out the white paper’s corresponding references and documents.
IDCC Comms: Aside from this white paper, what other work is being led at ETSI around PDL? How are you engaged?
Chonggang: ETSI ISG PDL currently has four active work items: 1) GR PDL-006 on Inter-Ledger Interoperability; 2) GS PDL-012 on PDL Reference Architecture Framework; 3) GS PDL-013 on PDL for Supporting Distributed Data Management; 4) GR PDL-014 on Non-Repudiation Techniques. I am the rapporteur for GS PDL-013. In addition, ISG PDL promotes PDL Proof of Concepts (PoCs); for example, an ongoing PoC is “Timeless in Metaverse Environment based on Edge networks (TIME)”. ISG PDL organizes plenary meetings (online so far due to the pandemic), bi-weekly conference calls and regular online drafting sessions to facilitate the delegates to have fruitful technical discussions and progress work items. ISG PDL always welcomes contributions from new and current member companies. If interested, please check out the ISG website here.
IDCC Comms: What is the potential for PDL and advanced distributed ledger technologies in the future? How soon might we see these technologies standardized for commercial use?
Chonggang: As described in the white paper, PDL can be applied to (but not limited to) many vertical domain and applications such as mobile networks, data sharing and management, and artificial intelligence, which are catalysts for the digital economy with boundless potential. In addition, advanced distributed ledger technologies like redactable ledgers and payment channel networks will make the technology more scalable and efficient with improved privacy. DLT-related standardization activities have been going on in many SDOs such as ITU-T, IEEE, ETSI and IETF. It’s hard to predict the timeline of the standardized commercial deployment of PDL systems, but many proprietary DLT solutions for commercial use have been seen in recent years. The next step might be to standardize PDL especially a PDL service layer for some application vertical domains such as the mobile industry, which will boost the large-scale standardized deployment of PDL technologies.
InterDigital remains at the forefront of innovation, often developing solutions and contributing to standards years before a technology’s deployment. With this skill of foresight and industry expertise, we looked to two of InterDigital’s leading video researchers Philippe Guillotel and Gaëlle Martin-Cocher to explain what opportunities might be ahead for video in 2022, and beyond.
IDCC Comms: Some believe 2022 may be the year for immersive video. What milestones and/or challenges do you foresee in the coming year around immersive video? How are InterDigital labs shaping this change?
Gaëlle: The release of new, diverse devices with a range of capabilities, like see-through glasses, light-field displays, and head-mounted displays (HMDs) indicates that immersive media has a bright future but will take various forms. In our world of research and standards, different standardized formats will likely be developed to support the new terminals and markets that enable this future.
As innovators, we wish to drive greater immersivity in more experiences and services, but the quality of experience differs between Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) services, between 2D or 3D displays, and between powerful or power-constrained devices. Latency remains a critical challenge to address for immersive and augmented reality experiences and traditional video metrics may need to be adapted to support new media formats and interactive experiences.
Among our video research at InterDigital, we are exploring mesh and point-cloud video and their integration with 2D and Multiview video formats in a scene description over HTTP and RTP to provide the technical enablers to deploy immersive services. Specifically, we are engaged in developing the MPEG Scene Description format to enable a rich experience with timed media in AR and VR. Our labs are also focused on multimedia transport protocols for compressed point cloud formats, alongside our participation in a new call for proposal for MESH compression.
IDCC Comms: Energy aware media is emerging in importance as industry and consumers consider the energy impacts of technology. What is this concept, and what’s on the horizon this year?
Philippe: Energy aware media is an important but complex topic because it involves every element of the video creation, distribution, and consumption chain. As such, it will take time to be implemented and adopted by all industry and consumer stakeholders but government agencies might push for it considering early public support.
At InterDigital, our research approach has been to build the foundations for more energy efficient media distribution with the specification of meta-data information on the content, which can be used along the distribution chain. For example, different video streams can be generated that provide different quality and bit-rate tradeoffs and different energy profiles. The user then has the choice to select a less energy-consuming stream, even if the quality is slightly lower.
Our research is also exploring challenges in transmission. In current web architecture, routers are computing routes determined by the best tradeoff delay or loss; however, our research looks at how a route with similar delay and loss performances might consume less energy by limiting the number of intermediate nodes/processes used.
Another path our teams are exploring is the perceptual aspects linked to energy consumption. By using some appropriate properties of the human visual system it is possible to reduce by 3% to 10% the average light level emitted by some video content with no perceptual degradation. This reduced light level will hopefully translate to some energy reduction.
IDCC Comms: With significant industry hype around the “metaverse,” do you think current streaming solutions are sufficient to deliver that level of immersivity?
Philippe: The metaverse has become a buzzword and it’s important for the industry to develop consensus around the definition of this new technology space. There are several concepts, technologies and even application areas that needs to be defined first, to know what we are talking about. This is among our Research and Innovation lab’s current concerns and efforts.
Besides, in light of the pandemic, demand has grown for more efficient communication and collaboration, and immersive environments can be a solution if appropriate display devices are provided. While current HMDs are not the solution, in the longer term I see more potential for new types of screens (immersive setup with panoramic and multi-view) or light-wear glasses. Of course, intermediate steps will be achieved to improve current 2D video solutions but will likely be insufficient for full immersive AR/VR solutions, where consumers can interact and collaborate in a 3D environment.
To achieve this future, the networks will have to support the necessary performances. The robustness of network architectures has been really impressive throughout the pandemic, and it gives me confidence it would be the case with more complex environments. In addition, the coming 5G and 6G networks, the tactile internet and some other ongoing initiatives will offer more efficient networks for the metaverse, with low latency (critical for interactivity), high throughput and more functionalities. I know that our network teams are working on those aspects, and I am sure they will successfully contribute to make this happen.
IDCC Comms: What breakthroughs in video interactivity are you hoping or preparing for this year?
Philippe: For truly collaborative social environments, interactivity is key. This means not just talking to people, but also sharing objects and engaging in different types of interactions on diverse topics in dynamic environments. This also means that all our senses, from vision to hearing to touch, should be stimulated so that emotion can be transmitted. To achieve this goal, we need efficient scene representation formats associated with the representation of the users, including a virtual one, a real one, and the link between the two. There are several initiatives, especially in standardization (ISO/IEC SC29 and SC24), working in that direction and our teams are currently contributing to these efforts.
To be more specific, I think one main challenge we must overcome is in the link between the real and the virtual. The link should be synchronized and made coherent, otherwise users will not be comfortable enough to use the technology. In addition, haptics, or touch, will gain significance because you cannot fully interact with people or objects without touching and receiving sensory feedback. Our haptic team is strongly involved since mid-2020 to finalize MPEG haptics standards for this new media type.
In video standards, what critical issues are being addressed this year?
Gaëlle: In addition to tackling critical challenges in latency and driving consistent management of media in diverse scene representation, we are engaged in standards exploring the compression of non-natural video content, like computer generated content, mixed media and gaming while defining and addressing mesh and point cloud needs. From this research we envision many different coding paradigms. The use of prior information, for example, in immersive cloud gaming, the parameters from the game engine can be used to guide encoding algorithms or create new end-to-end compression solutions.
Philippe: AI impact is also emerging in research importance and standards and we are exploring the impact of deep learning technologies for video coding but also for representing video content in a different way. It is expected that these new representation formats could reduce the data-rate but also provide new functionalities such as intrinsic editing or adaptation capabilities.
IDCC Comms: Are there any new or emerging issues unique to this year and current environment?
Philippe: We cannot ignore the obvious impact of the pandemic and the need for communications systems and architectures that enable efficient remote work, education, and socialization. Eventually, we will get to a future when both physical and remote, real and virtual worlds are used at the same time and co-operate between each other. It means appropriate formats and APIs, maybe something like a metaformat!
Privacy and user data protection are also significant considerations as we ask the questions ‘How will we manage the protection of users and guarantee appropriate use of their personal data within our fully-digital environments?’ This may tie-in with the integration of blockchain technologies into media consumption and delivery.
InterDigital is fueled by innovation. Our patented inventions have been licensed, and deliver benefits, to more than 6 billion devices worldwide, and this impact would be impossible without the brilliant researchers and inventors who make it possible.
We strive to recognize our inventors’ hard work and contributions to our company. As part of our annual Innovation Awards, the Inventor of the Year recognizes inventors who have made significant contributions to InterDigital's culture of innovation. The award celebrates the pioneers who go above and beyond and strive to promote technological evolution in wireless and video development.
Considering the breadth and impact of critical inventions alongside an assessment of industry recognitions and career accomplishments, InterDigital has named industry experts Moon-Il Lee and Franck Galpin the 2021 Inventors of the Year for their respective contributions to 5G wireless and video.
Moon-Il Lee has showcased leadership and innovation ingenuity throughout more than a decade with InterDigital. Since 2015, he has developed more than 100 inventions, that enable critical functions of 5G, including dynamic bandwidth and beam switching.
A respected expert on MIMO and beamforming, key techniques to support high frequency transmissions in FR1 and FR2, Moon-Il and his research have had an indelible impact on 5G features and applications, by providing increased throughput, coverage, and connection density for applications with enhanced data intensity.
In addition, Moon-Il has exhibited leadership in designing Sidelink PHY channels and procedures for 5G NR V2X to enable low latency and extended coverage for autonomous vehicle communications and other 5G use cases.
Moon-Il’s inventions have played a critical role in enabling key features of 5G, and his leadership in 3GPP has helped shape important standards for industry. Responsible for developing the specification for the physical layer of radio interfaces for UE and base stations, RAN1 is the wireless radio access group exploring physical channels and modulation, channel coding and error detection, control and data procedures, and more.
His expertise is well-known and widely sought, as he was tapped by the RAN1 chair to be 5G NR feature lead driving research on V2X and URLLC. Moon-Il is admired and well respected amongst peers in RAN1 and across industry, making him both an outstanding inventor and a valuable partner for driving research collaboration and meaningful industry impact.
Franck Galpin’s blended skills of software expertise, research competency, and impactful inventions have delivered significant value to InterDigital’s video capabilities and advancements within the video ecosystem.
Since joining the company, Franck has developed a remarkable 150 inventions to drive video evolution.
Of his inventions, Franck has developed several enhancements to the Versatile Video Coding (VVC) codec, a video compression standard developed to improve compression performance and expand support for a range of applications. His inventions include motion vector predictors for the codec, and improved compression schemes for luminance and chrominance data in VVC.
In addition, Franck’s research and more than 14 major contributions in the field of inter-coding and motion coding have shaped the standardization of VVC.
Separately, Franck has led and coordinated InterDigital’s research on deep-based video coding, including the use of AI to address encoder complexity to propose more complex standardized tools. The research achieved 30% encoding time reduction for same quality intra pictures.
Receiving recognition from a variety of scientific publications, Franck has also been the main author on more than 10 contributions to JVET on Neural Network-based video coding. Franck’s research expertise and inventions have fostered significant momentum for VVC standardization and his respect and credibility throughout JVET have secured his place as a leader on deep-based video coding and beyond.
We celebrate each and every inventor driving innovation throughout InterDigital and congratulate Moon-Il and Franck for their exceptional inventions and impact.
Patent hold-out is a problem that continues to hamstring innovators in the U.S. and beyond, InterDigital’s Chief Public Policy and Communications Officer Rob Stien detailed in an editorial in RealClearPolicy. When a company delays taking a license to utilize an innovator’s patents, it often drags patent owners into long and costly litigation and disrupts the innovation lifecycle through which companies use licensing to generate a return on their R&D to help fuel future innovation.
For the last two years the American company Sonos, a leading player in the connected speaker market, has been embroiled in high-stakes litigation with Google, after accusing the tech giant of infringing several of its patents.
This fight is taking place in courtrooms in the U.S. and Europe and, for the most part, the tide has been turning towards Sonos, especially following a January decision from the International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC recently upheld a decision to issue an exclusion order preventing the importation of Google products that had been found to infringe five of Sonos’s patents.
Despite that ruling, Google has yet to take a license to Sonos’s patent portfolio – just the latest example of how patent hold-out harms U.S. innovators. You can read more in Rob’s complete editorial on RealClearPolicy, here.
InterDigital has been an integral contributor to every generation of wireless, and our leadership momentum continues as we help shape the development of 6G worldwide.
Our Head of Future Wireless North America, Doug Castor, recently served as the editor for ATIS Next G Alliance’s recently published “Roadmap to 6G” report, which outlines the first 6G vision for North America and details major steps to secure North American technology leadership for the next decade and beyond.
IDCC Comms: Doug, congratulations on being selected Editor of the Next G Alliance “Roadmap to 6G” report! This is a significant responsibility considering this report’s importance and its sheer number of contributors. How were you selected for this role?
Doug Castor: InterDigital is one of the founding members of Next G Alliance, and I was tapped early on within our company to be a participant in its development. I like to think I was selected because of my passion to see increased North American leadership when it comes to innovation and development for 6G.
When the Next G Alliance working groups were forming, I ran and was elected vice-chair of the National 6G Working Group. The leadership team divvied up some critical roles to drive our objectives in 2021, and I immediately volunteered to be editor of the report.
IDCC Comms: How long did it take to develop and produce the “Roadmap to 6G" report?
Doug Castor: The development of the NGA’s “Roadmap to 6G” report was a six-month-long effort, and the outline was formed by taking inventory of the responsibilities for the 6G Roadmap working group established in the NGA operating structure in early 2021.
Moving toward 6G, there is a feeling and a national imperative to build a vision and act on development of a roadmap. This feeling is reflected among NGA’s many members and is also recognized in government by certain legislative proposals. NGA members overwhelmingly agreed that identifying the 6G vision was a necessary first step in a process that identified key goals, a research roadmap, and North American priorities for leadership.
IDCC Comms: The Next G Alliance has more than 600 participants from across industry and academia. Fielding feedback from that array of participants sounds daunting, though important, to produce a representative roadmap. How did you navigate the process?
Doug Castor: 600 participants is in fact a large number, though they represent 82 member organizations – a large but more manageable number. Input was usually provided through one spokesperson per member, and two key factors made this possible, in my opinion.
First, the whole group displayed utmost professionalism to work together toward a common goal, while being able to both argue and compromise and second, ATIS did a great job facilitating discussion and processes, as well as setting up collaboration tools for us.
The 6G Roadmap working group is also responsible for synthesizing input from other working groups, so the report includes text submitted and reviewed by other NGA workings groups. Overall, there was so much interest in participation that we decided to have sub-editors for each section!
IDCC Comms: How did your InterDigital experiences prepare you for this responsibility?
Doug Castor: Over the last ten years, my responsibilities at InterDigital have been to identify and develop technologies that are three to-five years away from standardization – a critical time when industry comes together to pick the best technology approaches. I was engaged in the founding of InterDigital’s European offices at the start of 5G to get us more involved in global leadership efforts and I’ve been involved with North American research efforts such as PAWR and various university advisory boards, where there are many familiar faces from the Next G Alliance.
IDCC Comms: Was the development of the NGA 6G Roadmap report any different from how previous roadmaps have been developed?
Doug Castor: For North America, developing a 6G technology roadmap is an entirely new approach, at least at this scale. In 5G, there may have been smaller initiatives dedicated to topics like spectrum sharing, for example, but this may be the first time a group this large and this broad organized around a common goal of building 6G leadership.
IDCC Comms: What challenges did you encounter, and how did your expertise help you find a solution?
Doug Castor: It’s always hard to get a large group moving in the same direction, so I find leading by “doing” is good approach. I’ve learned from my InterDigital experience that putting in hard work and making a few steps forward for a group is a good leadership approach. When you are surrounded by smart people; they will tell you when you’re going astray.
Another key challenge was too much information – both a nice-to-have and a problem for a very diverse array of participants and varying timelines for contributions.
IDCC Comms: The 6G Roadmap report addresses a variety of issues for 6G development. What topics had the greatest consensus, and which produced the most debate?
Doug Castor: There was significant consensus around the technology items because I think industry is starting to converge on what the key 6G technology topics will be, while there remains healthy discussion around spectrum’s role in 6G. At this stage, we know many of the key technology topics, but there is still much innovation to be done before we have solutions.
The Next G Alliance umbrella is broader than just research and technology, though, and looks at the 6G Roadmap holistically. This includes understanding 6G’s societal requirements, environmental concerns and influences, and economic drivers, raising important considerations around topics like digital equity and rural connectivity.
IDCC Comms: What is next for the 6G Roadmap report and your leadership responsibilities?
Doug Castor: With the publication of the 6G Roadmap report, we have great momentum for our next steps. NGA recently announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Korea to bolster our international partnerships and I personally will be participating on a webinar with the EMPOWER research consortium on transatlantic perspectives toward 6G pathways on March 2.
I encourage you to join and tune into the Next G Alliance 6G Roadmap report event on February 17th. You can learn more and attend here.
Drawing from pioneering research from the EPIC project, InterDigital’s Onur Sahin details in Embedded.com why the digital baseband is a critical component to unlock THz communications, and how this research lays a foundation for achieving the potential of 6G.
In his editorial, Onur explains that the digital baseband processor is the most computationally intensive part of a wireless system because it is the component where all wireless signal processing functions are computed, and within that, encoding and decoding represent the most complex and power-hungry processing blocks within the system. Despite its complexity, achieving ultra-fast encoding and decoding for the baseband chipset, also known as channel coding or forward-error-correction (FEC) technology, is crucial to unlock the ultra-high data rates and high-frequency radio communications foundational to 5G and beyond.
In THz communications, FEC technology is a key piece of the puzzle because it allows the transmitter and receiver to detect and correct transmission errors, while using advanced channel coding algorithms to achieve processing efficiency and higher throughput.
Specifically, the European Commission Horizon 2020-funded Enabling Practical Wireless Tb/s Communications with Next Generation Channel Coding (EPIC) project developed FEC channel coding technology to reach ultra-high frequencies exceeding 100Ghz and above and achieve ultra-fast speeds topping 100 Gb/s – a hundred times faster than today’s 5G speeds.
Figure 1. 5G requirements vs B5G (beyond 5G)requirements in FEC for various use-cases, including ultra-high speed communications (Tbps), ultra-low-latency communications. The EPIC project is aimed at delivering the B5G requirements.
In addition, the EPIC project also addresses the structural change in the design of cellular systems in THz communications. Unlike 5G mmWave technology that is dependent on macro and microcells, 6G’s THz bands communications will require a more frequent deployment of nanocells because higher frequencies are less favorable for long-distance signal propagation. This structural change demands increased network-level computations to manage vast networks of nanocells, alongside specific antennas, radio units and generators, and the ground-breaking solutions championed in the EPIC project that help address the computational burden placed on the baseband chipset.
Read more about this project and the potential it unlocks for 6G THz communications in the editorial in Embedded.com here.
InterDigital's Senior Principal Engineer Ravi Pragada details in Architecture and Governance Magazine all you need to know about IoT systems as 5G networks unlock a new wave of opportunity for IoT.
Ravi explains that the introduction of 5G networks has fostered three key waves of opportunities and applications for IoT, as well as their own unique deployment challenges. The first applies to the ‘massive IoT’ market, which relies on the small data payloads of numerous deployments of low-cost devices in use cases like connected agriculture, smart utilities, and smart cities. The second wave, or ‘critical IoT,’ involves systems that support real-time control of machinery, robot interactions, and intelligent transport systems. The third wave, encompassing ‘Broadband IoT’, supports higher throughput applications associated with larger data volumes and lower latency requirements, like wearable devices, industrial sensors, and surveillance videos.
The expanding range of applications, capabilities, and challenges for IoT sensors has been addressed in 3GPP standards like NB-IoT and LTE-M, New Radio Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications (NR URLLC), and New Radio Reduced Capability (NR RedCap). Aside from the critical solutions codified in standards, Ravi argues that business decision-makers must consider other aspects when designing and deploying IoT systems.
For example, even though they are constrained by limited processing and data storage capabilities, the affordability of low-cost IoT devices lowers barriers to their adoption. Many low-cost IoT devices will remain in the field for as long as ten years, requiring new solutions for long service lives, remote operations, and energy and communication efficiency in the form of sleep-mode and energy-harvesting technologies.
Moreover, network operations must consider the necessary support for large populations of IoT sensors. The requirements should include rules of operation between sensors and networks to ensure network intelligence can offload its operational overhead activities, treating an IoT device as a system that works with other systems.
As the density of IoT sensors increases in the future, we will require a technical framework that simplifies the ability for IoT applications to discover and access IoT sensors and enables the interoperability of different sensors – key challenges addressed by the international standards development organization for end-to-end IoT systems, oneM2M.
Simply put, the design intention of the oneM2M standard is to allow any IoT application to connect to any IoT device, as long as both conform to the oneM2M standard. The process of including oneM2M software in devices and applications solves the basic connectivity challenge, allowing entities to communicate with one another through syntactic and semantic interoperability.
The advent of 6G IoT will demand support for highly constrained heterogeneous devices such as true wireless sensors that can be embedded for instance in walls, bridges, and other structures at the point of construction. To enable these deployments, it is critical to understand battery life, alternative energy sources like radio frequency (RF)-based energy harvesting and zero-energy air interfaces in IoT devices, as they may hold a key to supporting our future of nearly 1 trillion connected devices worldwide.
Read Ravi’s full editorial on Architecture and Governance Magazine here.
Drawing from decades of video expertise, and nearly two years in a global pandemic, InterDigital's experts Alan Stein and Ralf Schaefer unpacked the growing demand for high-quality, video over IP content at home and need for more efficient compression standards like Versatile Video Coding (VVC) in TVBEurope.
Their editorial explains that VVC delivers compression ratio improvements of roughly 40% over its predecessor HEVC and can accommodate new types of content and capabilities like screen sharing over videoconferencing, 360-degree video, 4K television, and computer-generated images used in video games.
Developed by the Joint Video Experts Team (JVET) of ISO/IEC MPEG and ITU-T SG 16, VVC was specifically created as an enabler for the widespread adoption of 4K television because the compression levels it enables are critical to mitigate the extra resources 4K video requires. As demand for 4K-quality Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) services grows, VVC is poised to be a critical necessity for IP/OTT transmission of video.
Today, InterDigital engineers continue to drive the widespread adoption of VVC by contributing to technical implementations, supporting efforts to improve energy efficiency and performance, and advocating for adoption in global video application standards like DVB, ATSC, SCTE and SBTVD. In December 2021, SBTVD adopted VVC as the main video codec for OTA and OTT delivery for TV3.0.
Read the full editorial in TVBEurope on page 34 here.
We recently announced the retirement of Bill Merritt after 25 years at the company and nearly 16 years serving as InterDigital’s president and CEO. During Bill’s quarter-century tenure at InterDigital, his contributions and leadership led the company through many significant changes and expansions.
Here’s a snapshot of the last 25 years of achievement at InterDigital – truly a legacy to merit, and a legacy for Bill Merritt.
1996: Bill joins InterDigital as General Patent Counsel. Over the next nine years, Bill came to lead and become president of InterDigital Technology Corporation, a subsidiary of InterDigital Communications, and was largely responsible for establishing and building out the world-class licensing program InterDigital has today.
1997: InterDigital demonstrated a broadband CDMA solution that delivered video over wireless – three years before the first commercial 3G networks were launched in 2000.
1998: InterDigital forged a four-year partnership with Nokia to leverage InterDigital’s wideband patent position and develop 3G cellular phones.
2005: After nearly a decade at the company, Bill was appointed InterDigital’s President and CEO and member of the Board of Directors.
2000s: Throughout the 2000s and early 2010s, InterDigital was at the forefront of developing 4G and 5G technologies. With representation in all major global wireless standards organizations, InterDigital has helped develop and shape technologies in every aspect of the network – from handsets to base stations and mobile edge computing; from IoT sensors to streaming video and beyond.
2007-2008: InterDigital develops and launches its SlimChip mobile broadband modem at MWC, delivering performance hailed by Signals Research among the industry’s best.
2012: Intel acquires <10% of InterDigital’s patent portfolio for $375 million.
2013: From small to significant: following arbitration win, license with Apple ODM Pegatron grows to 37% of revenue. InterDigital signs agreement to arbitrate with Huawei, leading to historic first Chinese license with market leader.
2013: InterDigital demonstrates working 5G platform at Mobile World Congress.
2013: Bloomberg recognizes InterDigital as most profitable company in the US on a per worker basis, and names Bill Merritt among “Tech’s Top Turnaround Artists.”
2014: InterDigital signs landmark 10-year license agreement with Samsung.
2018-2019: Under Bill’s direction and leadership, he created one of the largest long-term R&D and licensing companies in the world with the acquisition of the Technicolor Patent and Research & Innovation (R&I) organizations. The acquisition expanded InterDigital’s research team and capabilities far beyond wireless to include video, AR, immersive content, AI, and other key areas.
2020: Bill took InterDigital to lead the industry in launching a licensing transparency initiative to make expanded information about the company’s standards essential patent (SEP) licensing rate program, rate structure, licensing and arbitration principles, and important data about the SEP portfolio, more readily accessible. The launch set an industry standard and highlighted the fairness and flexibility of our licensing approach.
2020: InterDigital pioneered licensing relationships with leading Chinese telecommunications device makers. In January, InterDigital resolved a nine-year licensing dispute by signing a license with ZTE, and later that year in April, InterDigital signed a licensing deal with China’s device maker Huawei.
2021: Under Bill’s leadership, InterDigital has grown from a net loss position with roughly one year’s working capital to just under $1 billion in cash with just under $1.7 billion returned to shareholders over the last 15 years.
This edition of “Getting to Know You” takes an in-depth look at Liren Chen, who on April 5th assumed the role of InterDigital’s President and CEO.
Following an introductory All Hands, InterDigital employees were introduced to Liren and given an insider pass to better understand his background, his drive to join InterDigital, and how he might lead in the path ahead. Here are some of the highlights of the conversation:
Early Life and Studies
Not unlike the topology of Delaware’s Eastern Shore, Liren Chen was born and raised in Qingdao, home to beautiful beaches and China’s famous Qingdao beer.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in Automation from Tsinghua University in Beijing, where he also met his wife of 26 years, Liren came to the United States in 1994 to attend the University of Maine under full scholarship, where he earned his M.S.E.E.
Liren joined Qualcomm after receiving his masters, and while working earned his J.D. degree from the University of San Diego, as well as an MBA from San Diego State University.
Career at Qualcomm
Prior to joining InterDigital, Liren’s most recent role was Senior Vice President and Global Head of IP.
Liren first joined Qualcomm as a software engineer responsible for implementing products for network management software and later spent more than five years working in corporate R&D. It was during this time that Liren developed most of his nearly 120 worldwide patents.
Later, Liren transitioned to spend more than seven years in Qualcomm’s IP department running essentially “every single functional aspect of IP creation – all the way to portfolio management, litigation readiness, and patent assertions.”
Liren was closely involved in developing and driving Qualcomm’s technology-driven IP strategy, and in 2016 joined the Qualcomm Licensing business responsible for technology, business strategy, and ecosystem development.
Reflecting on Similarities
When reflecting on his tenure at Qualcomm and new responsibilities as President and CEO of InterDigital, Liren noted that commonalities between the companies’ values helped make the transition smoother.
He specifically highlighted that Qualcomm and InterDigital share similarities in the ways they both “drive fundamental research, put value of IP over everything else, deliver value over a long period of time through multiple generations of wireless, and express a willingness, and strong track record, in defending their business model through arbitration or litigation.”
Moreover, having led multiple functional areas of the Qualcomm licensing division, Liren strongly resonated with a phrase often used to describe InterDigital’s impact – ‘We punch above our weight class.’ “That is a spirit I share,” he confidently replied.
In his words, Liren sees the move to InterDigital as a “great career opportunity,” but also a chance to bring his unique expertise and value to the company.
Given this background, Liren made clear that his interest in InterDigital stemmed from the company being a leading “fundamental technology developer and a major patent holder, both based on both the size and quality of the portfolio.”
In addition to the professionalism and caliber of InterDigital’s research and leadership, Liren also highlighted the timing of his transition, acknowledging that it comes when the lessons he has learned throughout his career will be most useful to InterDigital’s goals.
Driving Technology Leadership
In the all-hands, Liren made clear his belief that “the future is very bright for the technology that InterDigital develops,” and identified three technology areas that excite him most.
First, he reiterated the importance of InterDigital’s longtime foundation – connectivity, specifically wireless and cellular communications, including 5G and next G technologies alongside the Wi-Fi evolution.
Next, he noted “the multimedia area is super important from my perspective,” citing the massive impact of streaming video on internet traffic and the enormous potential for breakthrough technology in video codecs, audio codecs, and more.
He also noted that he is “a huge believer in artificial intelligence and machine learning.”
Finally, he expressed excitement in exploring the space and opportunities where these three technologies – 5G wireless, video codecs, and AI – converge.
Liren reminded his new colleagues that the latest smart phones launches have already highlighted the features that stem from these convergences, which amplifies the importance and impact of InterDigital’s research and standards contributions to this industry sector, and beyond.
In closing, Liren shared a principle that he said will guide his first few months with the company: “There is a reason we have two ears and one mouth. We should listen more than we speak!”
It is a shame that February, the shortest month of the year, is also the month we celebrate Black History, and the myriad contributions from Black and African Americans across the country and around the globe. Black inventors are responsible for some of our most valued and often used amenities, including the three-light stoplight (Garrett Morgan; Patent No. 1,475,074), refrigerated trucks (Frederic McKinley Jones, U.S. Patent 2,780,923), automatic elevator doors (Alexander Miles; U.S. Patent 371,207), the home security system (Mary Van Britten Brown, U.S. Patent 3,482,037), and more. Born enslaved, Sarah Boone was the first Black woman to receive a patent (U.S. Patent 473,563) in 1892 for creating the “improved” ironing boards we use today. (The original ironing board design was patented by Elijah McCoy, a prolific Black innovator and rumored namesake of the phrase “the real McCoy”.) In the centuries since, Black women and men have developed countless solutions that improve our lives, often while facing racism and societal prejudices in their own.
At InterDigital, we are committed to supporting innovation and excellence in all communities. It is this spirit that moves us forward and makes our lives boundless. That’s why we are so proud of our partnership with Delaware State University, a historically black college and university (HBCU) centering STEM education and fostering the next generation of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPoC) engineers, scientists, and innovators.
InterDigital and Delaware State University teams mark partnership in 2015
Delaware State University students using new training lab facilities
Leveraging funds from InterDigital’s $300,000 grant to the College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology in 2015, Delaware State University has established a cutting edge wireless communications training lab in InterDigital’s honor, and to-date has trained more than 300 undergraduate and graduate engineering and computer science students and provided vital infrastructure for teaching professors and faculty. What began as a grant to equip young people with resources to become engineers and business leaders has produced a valuable training lab serving the Black and brown creators and innovators of tomorrow.
Please stay tuned for more information about InterDigital’s partnership with Delaware State University, and other expressions of our commitments to make life boundless. We hope you had a happy Black History Month and celebrate with us these accolades and innovations every day.
In this edition of Getting to Know You, Corporate Communications interviews Jean Bolot, InterDigital's Head of AI Labs, to explore the department’s latest news, unveil InterDigital's very first mobile app, and reveal surprising answers about the best AI Companion.
Corporate Comms:Jean, as Head of AI Labs, you lead one of InterDigital’s most cutting-edge and experimental departments. Following last year’s historic events, do you think that 2021 will be a year for AI? Did the events of last year change our relationship or need for AI algorithms and innovation?
Jean Bolot: For the past few years it feels like every year has been “the year of AI,” and rightly so because AI certainly has been a megatrend of the decade. But you are correct, and I think AI will still be in the spotlight in 2021.
Frankly, I don’t know how much AI has been used in the fight against COVID – was it a plus, or really a critical piece? But independent of that, there were several noteworthy AI advances in 2020. These include the development of ethical AI to address issues of bias in data or algorithms; the use of deep learning to discover Halicin, a brand new type of antibiotics, or to understand how proteins fold – which is one of the most fundamental problems in biology with dramatic implications for how our cells and tissues operate, and the release of GPT-3, which is a new type of giant neural network called transformers. These transformers are 2000 times larger than the networks today and are revolutionizing the processing and automated generation of text.
CorpComm:AI Labs had an eventful year! Looking ahead, what priorities does your Lab have in the exploration and application of AI and deep learning algorithms? What challenges are you looking to tackle this year?
Jean Bolot: Not surprisingly given the technology positions of InterDigital, our main focus is on developing AI-based advances for wireless and for video.
Much of our work on wireless is done with Jim Nolan's lab. For example, we are looking with Ghyslain Pelletier on innovations for 3GPP such as channel state estimation and compression using autoencoders, a type of neural network, and with Miki Beluri on beamforming. We are also investigating the use of transformers. I mentioned transformers like GPT-3 earlier, which have been developed for text and language processing, but we believe they can be powerful tools to analyze wireless signals.
On the video side, we are working with Lionel Oisel's lab on the next generation of video coding and compression tools. Specifically, the goal for the AI Lab is to develop a completely neural network-based codec for video.
Finally, the AI Lab is launching a new effort this year – again in sync with Jim Nolan's lab - around data services, to build a pipeline to ingest, process and use live (as opposed to synthetic or simulated) 5G data to train and optimize the neural network models we develop for wireless research.
CorpComm:One of your Lab’s major accomplishments was the introduction of CompareAI – the very first mobile app developed end-to-end in InterDigital’s Lab and the world’s first AI-enabled image compression app. In your words could you tell us about this pioneering app, what it revolutionizes, and who should download it?
Jean Bolot: We are very excited about the app. It is the very first iPhone app released by InterDigital and it is a great platform for users to experience our technology. In addition, it was very valuable for us to see the app’s development from scratch all the way to being published on the AppStore. Much thanks also to Olivier Le Quéré and the legal team who were critical in helping us navigate through the agreements and legal issues.
The app is unique because it is the first available implementation of a completely neural network-based compression for images. This is also the first time that these neural networks are enabled to run on a resource-limited device like a smartphone. This is important because most large neural networks run on big GPUs and CPUs in data centers and configuring them to work on commercial phones without draining the battery is still a challenge. Finally, the app lets users visually compare the quality of compressed images obtained with both neural network-based and with traditional techniques like JPEG or HEIC.
Next step for us is to release a deep video compression app later this year. But for now, please don’t be too harsh on these new AI-based techniques 12 This is still the beginning and just having them run on the phone is an achievement!
CorpComm:If you were to look into a crystal ball, where do you think AI and deep-learning algorithms will bring the greatest impact to our industries, and society at large?
Jean Bolot: Three decades ago, Mark Weiser coined the term "ubiquitous computing" to describe a world in which computers would be everywhere – in data centers but also door locks, watches, cars, smartphones of course and basically around our world today. I believe we need to prepare for "ubiquitous AI", namely a world in which all these computers have advanced AI capabilities. Ubiquitous AI raises many challenging issues of robustness, privacy, or energy use, but it also opens the door to boundless new opportunities. What AI can do now would have been considered magic 15 years ago. It's our turn now to invent the magic ahead.
CorpComm:Your department works tirelessly to make AI Algorithms smarter, and more predictive, to understand users and systems better. In an effort to better understand YOU, we’d like to offer a few random prompts for rapid word association, and why, to better get to know the man behind the AI.
First word is: HAL
Jean Bolot: ipHone + ALexa
CorpComm: Next is: Season?
Jean Bolot: 4 seasons. Vivaldi. My favorite composer.
CorpComm:Next word is: Samoa
Jean Bolot: Tropical island. Hawaii. Would love to be there now!
CorpComm: What do you think when you hear the word: Michael?
Jean Bolot: Nothing special pops up in English but in French, Michel, I think of Mont St Michel. Amazing place.
CorpComm:And lastly, what do you associate with the word: resolution?
Jean Bolot: New year resolution. Failure. Except if only one. And grit.
CorpComm:Thank you Jean and thank you for letting us get to know you and learn more about the incredible work in the AI lab. We’re looking forward to these new developments and will encourage everyone to download the newest CompareAI app here.
On this edition of Getting To Know You InterDigital, Corporate Communications interviews Mike Cortino, InterDigital’s Head of Information Services, to learn more about the department, exciting new projects, and some of the questions keeping Mike busy as we all work from home.
Corporate Comms: Mike, you joined InterDigital this year as the Head of Information Services, at a time when our company, and the rest of the world, was making the transition to work from home. Throughout the journey, we have faced a plethora of challenges as people shifted to make their homes into working offices. Looking back on this year, what word or phrase would you use to describe your first couple of months with InterDigital?
Michael Cortino: I think unique is a great word to describe it. To add to that, I would say exciting because it was something new. Coming in to lead a function that really has the responsibility for enabling the work from home activity made it exciting and made it challenging. I think that's extremely unique, and I will say I was pretty fortunate to join a team that had already started working on the work from home environment. They started laying the foundation before I joined InterDigital so we are well underway, which was great.
CorpComm:During our recent All Hands you outlined many projects that IS has begun and completed this year. It's clear that your team has been incredibly busy 😊. Could you offer us an overview of the main projects your team has been leading, and the success you've had so far?
Michael Cortino: Within the application space, there's a few key initiatives for us as a team. One is our data warehouse initiative, which is part of the digital transformation program we kicked off earlier this year. That' project’s really important for us as we move forward with analytics in the future and more robust reporting to support all of the functions. We have the application design in place, an environment stood up, and now we're just building out that environment so that we can flip the switch and move it into production, which will happen early next year.
Another initiative is one where we’re moving all of our policies and procedures to a new tool called ConvergePoint, which sits on top of SharePoint. We also made numerous improvements and enhancements in Microsoft D365 to support Finance.
In infrastructure, we migrated to a new data center in France, and implemented a new hyper-converged environment, both large scale initiatives. And we did all of that during COVID, which was pretty challenging, but the team stayed on it and got it done.
We also migrated from Skype to Teams, which was a big move as well. We upgraded many of our conference rooms to support Teams, and even though people weren't really going into offices, we were able to get approval to upgrade a number of those conference rooms throughout our facilities footprint.
Last, but certainly not least, we made some really big strides in the information security space. That's one thing I take a pretty keen interest in because if there's anything that's really going to impact us from a systems perspective as a company, it's bad actors armed with ransomware or phishing campaigns that bring down critical systems. So, we've been focused there and put together a pretty robust plan, inclusive of offense and defense initiatives.
We brought on a vendor to help us with brand protection. Anywhere InterDigital is mentioned in the ether, we get notified and have a vendor who watches over to prevent domain squatting and the like. We also have a number of tools to monitor the dark web and different areas for user IDs, so usernames and password combinations, which in conjunction with the password policy change to encourage a more sophisticated password, helps prevent hacking. And we of course have multifactor authentication, utilizing Duo for a second authentication to log in.
These are all things I think are big wins for us across the various domains of applications, infrastructure and information security – just to name a few.
CorpComm: This year has been one for the history books, without any year like it. Despite that, we were able to accomplish a lot of really wonderful things, given the headwinds that we faced. What would you say is the accomplishment you’re most proud of this year, perhaps something the company at large isn’t aware of?
Mike Cortino: I'm going to start with a broader answer and then hopefully narrow it down a bit. But one thing I would say helps in this unique environment that we're in is that InterDigital is a unique business. Because of that, and because our staff has a professional user base – all experts in their field, many highly educated people in the company – we were all able to migrate to this new way of working pretty seamlessly. That's not the experience that many companies faced, because there are a lot of companies whose user base has a wide spectrum of educational backgrounds, as well as the challenge of manufacturing environments. So, a lot of those companies struggled to make the transition.
We have a highly skilled user base across the company, and that put us in a pretty good position to make the transition. I'm most proud of that, and I'll add extremely fortunate. I joined right at the point where we began working remote, so, I didn't interact with anyone face to face. And thankfully, I did not have anyone in the company or executive team calling me saying, ‘Mike, we have a major issue’, or ‘My team isn’t able to do XYZ’.
I was pretty fortunate. My predecessor put in place a strategy of cloud first, and my hats off to them for doing that. I think that really positioned us well. Again, I was fortunate to land here and have a smooth transition and focus on the team, learn the business and just kind of get acclimated. So, I'm most proud of the work the team did leading up to this unique environment and the way they managed through it as the entire company transitioned to working remote.
CorpComm:Coming on the heels of this year and the variety of ways 2020, and the COVID pandemic, have influenced and reshaped our lives, what should we look for in 2021?
Mike Cortino: I mentioned at the All Hands the work we're doing around the Future of the Desktop. I think that's going to be pretty interesting for us at InterDigital. What we mean by that is, today we issue employees a laptop when they join the organization, and we have a phone policy where people bring their own phone. So, we are looking at what is it going to take for us to go to an environment that is completely “bring your own device”.
This would bring us to a position where we inform employees how to access all of the necessary applications through devices they purchase. We will develop, maintain, and support the access points. We will be working through the details in 2021 and look forward to rolling out the new program in 2022.
That's going to be a big game changer for us as a company. In our industry, research and innovation is so important, and a lot of engineers are accustomed to working on machines that are special or customized to the work they're doing. This would give our employees the flexibility to use a device of their choice and it allows us (IS) the ability to focus on what we do best, which is developing, maintaining, and supporting our InterDigital landscape.
Every company I've been with has talked about a BYOD, “Bring Your Own Device” strategy, but they never prioritized the effort and committed the resources. But now we are truly going to take it to the next level. And when we think about this from a recruitment perspective – the flexibility of our work policy and the flexibility to use a device you are comfortable with – packaged all together makes InterDigital even more of an attractive company.
CorpComm:Following the rebranding of Information Services as “IS”, we often use the phrase “IT IS what IT IS” to hearken to its IT origins. Today you’ve outlined the many possibilities for IS, so to continue in that spirit, we wanted to ask you a few fun “Either Or” questions. There is no wrong answer, only an honest one. 😊 So, first question is, Mac or PC?
Michael Cortino: I'm going to go PC because I don't own a Mac. Both my kids have Macs, but I don't own one. I don't have a preference, but I'm going to go PC.
CorpComm:Netflix or Xbox?
Michael Cortino: Netflix. I'm not a gamer, so Netflix.
CorpComm:Cooking at home or ordering in from your favorite restaurant?
Michael Cortino: Ordering in, which happens just about every day. We don't cook.
Michael Cortino: Oh, that's so tough. I just love food. Favorite, if I could only have one, I'm going to go with lobster ravioli in a vodka blush sauce.
CorpComm:Michael Jordan or Tom Brady?
Michael Cortino: Jordan. Yeah. Jordan.
CorpComm:And our last question, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, mashed potatoes or stuffing?
Michael Cortino: Mashed potatoes. But that's a trick question, because I like to mix them both. I like to take them and kind of slam them together. But mashed potatoes was the first thing that ran into my head, so, I'm going to go with that.
CorpComm:Thank you Mike and thank you for letting us get to know you and IS better. We are so looking forward to these new IS features and initiatives, stay tuned for updates on all the exciting happenings discussed within.
If you missed the 6G Symposium, check out our blog for a full overview of Day 1 highlights, a review of Day 2’s keynote speech by National Science Foundation's Dr. Thyaga Nandagopal, and recaps of the Symposium’s most thoughtful panels. Recordings of the sessions will be available soon.
While the 6G Symposium squared its focus on shaping a vision of 6G, the reality remains that the increasing deployment and commercialization of 5G will shift attention away from academic and research environments and towards production and implementation arenas. As we look to 6G, however, the academic and research community have an opportunity to take a fresh look and ask: "How can we develop and test new ecosystems for the generations beyond 5G?”
Moderated by Northeastern University Professor Abimanu Gosain, the panel discussion “Platforms for Experimental Research: Are we ready for 6G?” shared the perspectives of representatives from some of the most renowned research organizations on the opportunities and limitations for experimental exploration in 6G.
Julius Kusuma of Facebook's Connectivity Lab remarked how the last eight months of the COVID-19 pandemic brought connectivity issues to the forefront and highlighted the need for the industry to be both flexible and responsive. "This pandemic has provided us with a strong reminder that the world is diverse and the needs and use cases are diverse," he said. "For instance, who would have thought eight months ago that as consumers we'd be so concerned with upload speeds as we are today?"
As Vice Director of the National 6Genesis Flagship at the University of Oulu in Finland, Ari Pouttu spearheads laboratory research on wireless connectivity, devices and circuits, distributed computing, and a range of services and applications. Reflecting on the University’s body of research and looking ahead, he remarked that the research community must "join forces with stakeholders from all different verticals to take into account KPIs, use cases and methodologies to develop new thinking beyond just technology and productivity."
Vertical use cases are certainly a research specialty at North Carolina State University, where Professor Ismail Guvenc's team conducts its research. "We are researching Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Traffic Management (UTM) systems in conjunction with a NASA platform for drone air traffic control," he shared. "It's a great platform for a variety of use cases including wireless hotspots, agriculture, public safety, package delivery and more." He mentioned that NASA is also working on advanced air mobility systems for aircraft that operate at higher altitudes than drones because connectivity is patchy in the skies. He shared other verticals where testbeds are being developed, including smart buildings/smart cities, rural connectivity, AR/VR and several others across a range of indoor, outdoor, urban, suburban and rural environments.
From the perspective of a wireless operator, Parallel Wireless CEO Steve Papa offered a somewhat controversial perspective — "5G is the last of the monolithic pervasive, homogeneous G's." He added, "up until now, the network was needed by pretty much everyone in the same way. That's all changing now." While his comments may seem controversial on the surface, they point to a concrete reality: wireless networks are no longer built to cater to a single dominant use case. The development process and testing and research requirements for some use cases will likely progress along separate timelines now, posing an interesting new environment for research and testing organizations.
To recap the key take-aways and most thought-provoking presentations from the 6G Symposium, please join us for a 6G Symposium Sync Up webinar on Thursday, November 5 at 1:00 p.m. ET, hosted with Fierce Wireless. Symposium organizers Doug Castor from InterDigital and Tommaso Melodia from Northeastern University will join industry experts to digest and make sense of the event’s varying perspectives on the 6G roadmap, the role of AI and Machine Learning in 6G networks, spectrum sharing approaches, public-private research partnerships, and much more.
If you missed the 6G Symposium, check out our blog for a full overview of Day 1 highlights, a review of Day 2’s keynote speech by National Science Foundation's Dr. Thyaga Nandagopal and fireside chat with NIST Director Dr. Walter G. Copan, and recaps of the Symposium’s most thoughtful panels. Recordings of the sessions will be available soon.
The second day of the 6G Symposium continued the discussion around the challenges posed by spectrum, but with a specific focus on spectrum sharing. The panel's moderator, Monica Paolini, founder and president of wireless consulting firm Senza Fili, began the session with a baseline question for all panelists: What is the best way to share spectrum efficiently that brings everyone on board?
5G is currently being rolled out and delivering 1.5 GBps in certain cities in the U.S., a country that leads the world in high-band spectrum allocation. "When we talk about spectrum sharing, we need to talk about adjacent channel users too, not just co-channel users," said FCC CTO Monisha Ghosh. She illustrated this point by addressing the passive users in higher bands like weather satellites as well. "In mid-bands, around 8-10 GHz and below, where it's still best for wide area cellular use, the picture is different,” she added. “There it's more about sharing with incumbents. And unlicensed services have to protect primary users."
The 6G, or the “Next G” will face many of the same issues as 5G. Ghosh pointed out that with the convergence and proliferation of unlicensed spectrum usage for cellular, the hope is that industry can begin designing systems that enable those running on licensed and unlicensed spectrum to work together. In short, it is clear that 6G will require better spectrum sharing modalities than we have today.
To punctuate this discussion, the panelists discussed the rollout of the CBRS system in the 3.5 GHz band earlier this year. This band had previously been allocated exclusively to the U.S. Department of Defense to be used for radar systems, but is now being shared with commercial systems. This shared model system has been operational since January 2020. Panelists indicated that the system is exceeding expectations. "There have been no interference complaints so far," said Andrew Clegg, Spectrum Engineering Lead for Google. "We are due for some innovation in the propagation model world," he added, describing that the propagation models for CBRS date back to the 1960s. "That's closer to Marconi than it is to today." Google, he said, is aiding this research by using its massive database of geodata to build new propagation models.
Echoing the call for propagation model research was Sheryl Genco, director of NTIA's Institute for Telecommunications Sciences (ITS). "Our data science group is just beginning to take a whole nation approach to build a propagation model for the whole world," she said. "We are also looking toward real-time spectrum management, which could really help prevent interference to incumbents." She encouraged industry participation in this research effort, reminding audiences that NTIA has an open data policy and open use policy, meaning their propagation models are open and available for anyone to use.
Tom Rondeau, Program Manager for DARPA, offered the Department of Defense perspective on spectrum sharing. "Maxwell's equations haven't changed, but the way we interact with them has evolved," he said. "We don't just share spectrum; we share the knowledge of how we use it." Rondeau described how DARPA is doing advanced research around phased arrays, spread spectrum, and software defined radio systems. The biggest challenges, he says, are often around computational power. Network slicing is one way they have found to help reduce that computational power requirement.
Simply put, 6G is about significantly increasing performance, in all aspects, over 5G. Masoud Olfat, Senior Director of Technology Development for Federated Wireless, discussed that the overall goal is to make spectrum sharing more efficient, and to discover new ways to exploit spectrum sharing. "We are looking at open RAN, computational edge networks, network slicing models and NFV," he said. "We need to learn how we can use spectrum sharing to improve overall performance of the wireless network and people's lives."
To recap more of the key take-aways and thought-provoking presentations from the 6G Symposium, please join us for a 6G Symposium Sync Up webinar on Thursday, November 5 at 1:00 p.m. ET, hosted with Fierce Wireless. Symposium organizers Doug Castor from InterDigital and Tommaso Melodia from Northeastern University will join industry experts to digest and make sense of the event’s varying perspectives on the 6G roadmap, the role of AI and Machine Learning in 6G networks, spectrum sharing approaches, public-private research partnerships, and much more.
If you missed the 6G Symposium, check out our blog for a full overview of Day 1 highlights, a review of Day 2’s keynote speech by National Science Foundation's Dr. Thyaga Nandagopal and fireside chat with NIST Director Dr. Walter G. Copan, and recaps of the Symposium’s most thoughtful panels. Recordings of the sessions will be available soon.
The second day of the Symposium explored some of the challenges facing the true realization of 6G’s potential, namely the limitations of spectrum.
As wireless data traffic grows exponentially, the question remains: how will we support it? This foundational question provided the framework to begin the panel “Conquering the Spectrum” on Day 2 of the 6G Symposium, moderated by Northeastern University Associate Professor Josep Jornet.
The panel offered a timely discussion to address many of the questions raised during Dr. Nandagopal’s keynote, namely “where will 6G fit in the radio spectrum?” Upcoming 3GPP Release 17 is expected to extend 5G up to roughly 71 GHz, but the most existing radio spectrum lies below 95GHz. It is widely understood that the industry must undertake much innovation to develop use cases and technologies that allow radio communications in the Terahertz bands. There was much discussion about the frequency ranges, which are expected to range between 60 GHz all the way to 3 THz, but less has been said about use cases it will enable.
Discussion moderator Jornet offered a few suggestions, including Terabit wireless backhaul, inter-satellite and space networks, or even potentially for sensing applications like non-damaging imaging and high-resolution radar. Overall, he encouraged the panelists to use the session to answer questions about devices, test beds and materials, as well as propagation and channel modeling. The conversation also addressed questions around signal processing, networking, policy, regulation, and standardization.
Gerhard Schoenthal, COO of Virginia Diodes, Inc., outlined the very real challenges of spectrum availability. "Wireless products have to cover wide swatch of spectrum," he said, adding that since materials like iridium phosphide are not as well developed as other semiconductor materials, the products face a materials challenge at higher frequencies.
Signal propagation was also highlighted as a major challenge by Thomas Kurner, professor at TU Braunschweig. "Particularly in indoor environments, small objects play a role in propagation, reflection and scattering," said Kurner. "Even something as simple as wallpaper over a concrete wall can cause multiple reflections at higher frequencies." He went on to say that while these problems currently exist in the millimeter Wave (mmW) bands, they will become more pronounced at the THz levels, therefore further innovation is needed before such solutions reach the mainstream.
Despite these challenges, early 5G mmW deployments are underway, and are achieving high peak data rates greater than 1 GBps. However, coverage is still intermittent for now. The primary challenges with implementing mmW are directionality, blockage, and range. In addition, there will be greater challenges with device power consumption, high network density and an apparent lack of clear use cases for the technology. "In upper mmW bands, like around 140GHz, there are some savings possible, but power may still be prohibitive because these devices pull a lot of wattage," said Sundeep Rangan, Professor at NYU, pointing toward some potential use cases. "At around 140GHz there may be a good use case to use this band for fronthaul and drones/UAVs, or possibly in point-to-point backhaul links, such as line of sight MIMO at ranges of up to around 1.5 kilometers."
Offering another academic perspective was Edward Knightly, Professor at Rice University, who described exciting research around high frequency beam steering. He described that, because different frequencies emit at different angles, his team has seen the potential for beam steering through adjustments to the antenna. He also discussed how new sensing capabilities could be made possible at the THz level, which could enable high resolution millimeter scale radar with a single antenna. There are also security implications of very narrow beams too – narrow beams emitted at different frequencies can thwart eavesdroppers and side-channel attacks, which would unlock new security capabilities.
There are regulatory and policy considerations for spectrum as well. Relative to other technologies, wireless is a highly regulated industry. Policymakers and regulators frequently ask questions like "how much spectrum does 6G need, and how much is available?" Agencies and government institutions will be looking for more concrete numbers than the industry can currently provide. This issue came up earlier this year with concerns regarding potential 5G interference with NOAA's weather forecasting satellites, which are passive users of some of the adjacent spectrum allocated for 5G. "A study is underway about minimizing interference and enabling a win-win sharing of spectrum," said Mike Marcus, former FCC spectrum policy lead. "Weather satellites will be protected," he added, reminding the audience that the ITU rules on passive bands will not change until 2027, at the earliest.
This riveting discussion was underscored by an interesting consensus among panelists. All agreed that, while there is uncertainly today about where exactly the eventual 6G spectrum will be, key stakeholders will work together with a shared vision to enable the exciting new possibilities in these high frequency bands. Knightly concluded by saying, "if you have devices that can give you millimeter-scale resolution sensing of the world around you, the sky's the limit in terms of what's possible."
To recap more of the key take-aways and thought-provoking presentations from the 6G Symposium, please join us for a 6G Symposium Sync Up webinar on Thursday, November 5 at 1:00 p.m. ET, hosted with Fierce Wireless. Symposium organizers Doug Castor from InterDigital and Tommaso Melodia from Northeastern University will join industry experts to digest and make sense of the event’s varying perspectives on the 6G roadmap, the role of AI and Machine Learning in 6G networks, spectrum sharing approaches, public-private research partnerships, and much more.
With a successful kickoff to the inaugural 6G Symposium, we continued the momentum on Day 2. On Wednesday, a diverse collection of panelists from across industry, academia and government took a deeper look into the many technical and visionary issues facing 6G’s, and the industry at large’s, future.
If you missed Day 1 of the Symposium, a recap of the full day is available here, and recordings of the sessions will be made available soon.
Day 2 began with a brief synopsis of the Symposium’s key takeaways by InterDigital's Doug Castor and Northeastern University's Tommaso Melodia, highlighting some of the hundreds of questions received from the more than 4500 event registrants. The organizers then turned the stage to Dr. Thyaga Nandagopal, Deputy Division Director for the National Science Foundation, to deliver the day's keynote address.
Keynote Session: Wireless Spectrum for NextG
Dr. Nandagopal's remarks, "Wireless Spectrum for NextG" began the second day of the 6G Symposium on a more contrarian note: he quickly introduced the concept he calls "NextG" – as opposed to 6G – which he says is after 5G because "by the time people switch to the next generation, that's when the real explosion of the growth and the killer apps takes place."
He gave a preview of one of the day's main themes – spectrum – highlighting that while we know 5G will use spectrum up to the 50 GHz band, the “NextG” will probably begin above 50 GHz. Looking ahead to the upper limit of that spectrum for 6G/NextG, it remains unclear where that upper limit is. This lack of clarity he described provided a launching pad for the fascinating perspectives shared by the panelists throughout the day.
Dr. Nandagopal went on to share that historically in wireless, the computational power curve has been accelerating faster than the availability of spectrum. This reality has brought significant challenges for the industry, as well as dramatic opportunities for innovation, particularly in the areas of spectral efficiency. As the industry moves toward higher frequency bands and greater availability of spectrum, this raises new questions. Historically, higher frequencies meant faster and better technology, and certainly more network capacity, and smaller antennas meant more compact devices. "While these were historically true," said Nandagopal, highlighting major spectrum reallocations dating back as far as the 1940s in the U.S., "many of these things will not be true in the sub-6GHz millimeter wave bands used in 5G."
The proliferation of radio technologies means that spectrum is scarce. Technology is one way the industry has traditionally addressed that scarcity, because moving incumbent users to different frequencies is very hard and takes tremendous time and resources. Furthermore, it takes time to try new methods of spectrum allocation. But, just as with any innovation, where there's a will there's a way.
Spectrally-speaking, there is currently a bit of "beachfront" spectrum available, meaning the most desirable, and also most scarce, spectrum in the 600MHz to 6GHz range. Nandagopal expanded the beach analogy to say that "if we dredge some sand and expand the beach, we can move into the 6-7GHz bands, then add spectrum up to the 10GHz band." This kind of innovation, especially if we further expand the range into the 20GHz band, will allow the industry to reap the benefits of mid-band usage and high spectral efficiencies. From there, with another 4GHz of spectrum, we can see better peak rates and more efficiency from massive MIMO. At even higher frequencies – reaching the mmWave range from 30 to 300 GHz – there would be enormous bandwidth gains that we don't yet know how to use. These high frequencies present a truly greenfield opportunity. In the Terahertz range, above 300GHz up to 3THz, we’ll inevitably see new challenges emerge and power will present an enormous challenge, but over time breakthroughs will happen.
Looking historically, Nandagopal noted that the current model of using shared spectrum in tandem with unlicensed spectrum is essentially the same model the United States has used, more or less unchanged, since the early 1990s. Through that historical lens, he implored the audience to look at a wide-open future.
"Imagine if we had a set of unlicensed and unrestricted frequencies spanning low, mid and high bands. Imagine a world where devices can self-identify the desired swath of frequencies and power levels they need to get their data transmitted," he illustrated, going on to explain that AI and machine learning would help us achieve such a vision, and the significant government and private investment currently underway in this exciting arena.
Dr. Nandagopal received the day’s first question about quantum computing, responding that he felt quantum computing was indeed coming, but not as soon as many might have hoped. He cautioned that quantum computing was still at least 10 years, if not 15 years, away from full realization, and probably 25-30 years away from reaching widespread commercial use. More encouragingly, he shared that while quantum computing would help solve complex problems of the future, there remain “low hanging fruit” challenges for the wireless industry to address in the near term while quantum matures.
Dr. Nandagopal concluded his remarks with a simple statement: "There's more than enough spectrum to go around, but there's a need to innovate, and to leverage R&D." We agree and look forward to many years of exciting research and development on the next generations of wireless technology.
Fireside Chat with NIST Director Dr. Walter D. Copan
To share the U.S. government perspective on the path and pursuit to excellence in science, technology, and research, NIST Director and Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology Dr. Walter Copan engaged in a fireside chat on the U.S. technology roadmap, moderated by Northeastern University Senior Vice Provost for Research David Luzzi.
Dr. Copan began the discussion by sharing that standards development is a priority for NIST. "Our focus is on American innovation and to advance industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life," he said. The organization places a significant focus on advanced communications technology and standards for 5G and beyond, with the goal of strengthening America's global competitive position. This message closely follows those shared during Day 1’s fireside chat with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
Professor Luzzi began the conversation by asking about NIST's position on, and involvement in, disaster resilience, an area where the wireless industry has shown some need for improvement. Dr. Copan described how the agency is applying its experience in disaster resilience, with a focus on standards, the future of supply chain integrity, and looking at lessons learned. "We seek to learn from failure points," he said. "From there we work on building recovery models."
The conversation then returned to one of the day’s hottest topics: spectrum sharing. Dr. Copan noted, "we are very excited about work that's come out of NASCTN - the National Advanced Spectrum and Communications Test Network," adding that "this work has provided tools for the co-existence of radar and 5G mmW models, and related use cases." He went on to describe how the research and standards work in the mid-band is essential, and how CBRS use cases have provided important validated datasets.
Dr. Copan reminded audiences that the NIST encourages public participation, noting that their datasets are available for research purposes. "Some data we have needs to be anonymized for privacy purposes, but generally our data is available," Dr. Copan said. "Members of the alliance get full benefit, but at a high level all of that information is broadly available, and NASCTN provides a rich data source as well."
To close out the day’s discussions, the focused shifted from considerations for future research to our current reality. The United States has had a relative slow start in 5G, and has a new opportunity to overcome that hurdle and improve the U.S.’s current leadership position 5G. Dr. Copan outlined efforts on the 5G deployment road map, highlighting the transparent ways the federal government is working on the roadmap. "Many of the lessons have been taken to heart," Dr. Copan said. "ATIS has announced a 6G alliance, and that should be a strong opportunity as well.” He added that NIST supported the initiative, of which InterDigital is a Founding Member. One outgrowth of this work, he added, is to encourage stakeholders to look at the future of U.S. innovation and the legislative and policy changes it can enable. He suggested that policymakers could incentivize work by the private sector and encourage collaborative research and innovation, an area where the U.S. has lagged behind its global counterparts at times in the past. Dr. Copan ended on the encouraging note that, on the whole, the NIST is looking to incentivize research and innovation and other strategies in ways on par with, and exceeding, the country’s peers.
To recap the key take-aways and most thought-provoking presentations from the 6G Symposium, please join us for a 6G Symposium Sync Up webinar on Wednesday, November 5 at 1:00 p.m. ET, hosted with Fierce Wireless. Symposium organizers Doug Castor from InterDigital and Tommaso Melodia from Northeastern University will join industry experts to digest and make sense of the event’s varying perspectives on the 6G roadmap, the role of AI and Machine Learning in 6G networks, spectrum sharing approaches, public-private research partnerships, and much more. You can register here.
Check back later this week for more highlights and new updates about the 6G Symposium.
The kickoff of the first annual 6G Symposium was a huge success, with more than 4000 participants from around the globe registering to hear insights and perspectives on the 6G vision, emerging 6G technologies, and the role of AI in wireless networks. Through panels and presentations, we learned how foundational technologies like blockchain, AI, network coding, and THz may drive a fresh look at what’s optimal for 6G architectures and spectrum sharing policies.
For the first time ever, InterDigital joined ranks with the Institute of Wireless Internet of Things at Northeastern University to kick off the first-of-its-kind 6G Symposium, a two day virtual event dedicated to shaping a clear vision for 6G.
Taking place as we’re beginning to see the earliest phases of commercial 5G, the 6G Symposium kicked off with the important level-setting question: "What’s next?"
The Symposium is dedicated to looking ahead to the next 10 years of research and standard setting to explore the potential 6G holds, what it may become, and the new opportunities it might unlock. There’s a general understanding among stakeholders in this field that 6G development takes time, resources, and a commitment to global cooperation to develop a successful wireless ecosystem. Day 1 of the Symposium helped us to better shape the path ahead.
So what exactly will 6G look like? We know 6G will enable faster delivery speeds, but it will also bring changes to the wireless interface and architecture, introduce new radio models, and support a massive proliferation of devices. Fun Fact: early estimates suggest that by 2030, there will be 500 billion devices across a global human population of roughly 8 billion. That's more than 60 devices for every human on earth. To support this future and bring 6G to the forefront, players from across the wireless ecosystem must collaborate to find the best solutions for this exciting and impending future.
Keynote: AT&T’s Mazin Gilbert
Mazin Gilbert, AT&T VP of Network Analytics and Automation, opened Day 1 of the Symposium with a visionary view of the future beyond 5G. During his keynote address, Gilbert noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has altered people’s primary means of interactions, and the timing of the recent 5G commercialization is somewhat fortuitous because every new generation of wireless was built to adapt to a new way of life. While 5G remains a “mobile” technology, it also has natural characteristics that make it well suited for a world where we are considerably less mobile than before. As we look ahead to 6G, it’s reasonable to assume that we may need very different networks and systems to fulfill our new ways of life. In the future, networks will need sophisticated infusions of AI/ML and certain levels of autonomy to enable them to self-organize. Our networks will need to evolve with our needs, and while 5G networks are more decentralized than their earlier counterparts, future 6G networks will take decentralization to new levels.
In a 6G world, new devices like XR glasses will enable new visual experiences through things like browsing the news, providing real-time performance updates during a morning workout, or help us locate a friend, and the gift shop, at a crowded sporting event. Cars will have sophisticated sensors and intelligence, and live events and concerts will enter our living rooms in exciting and immersive ways. And for those working from home, interactive video conferencing will move beyond two-dimensions and become more immersive.
Throughout his keynote, AT&T’s Gilbert described modern technology’s disruptions in agriculture and industry, including the use of robotics and video surveillance to pinpoint the precise time for harvest and the increasing automation of factories and dynamism of industrial robots. To support these changes, networks will need to become more open and disaggregated. The network will no longer be a closed box, but instead opened through APIs, and enable personalized experience not possible today. Due to the proliferation of the mobile edge cloud, each person’s computing power and storage will follow more closely wherever they go, and network slices will enable and guarantee service for particular use cases.
While exciting, the 6G vision brings significant research challenges as well. To enable the experiences we envision, players from across the ecosystem need to collaborate to optimize spectrum sharing and efficiency, develop new technologies and adaptive learning algorithms, anticipate and mitigate cybersecurity attacks, and address the vital topics of battery life and energy efficiency. In the future, networks will need to be self-organizing to ensure traffic is dynamically optimized across intensely densified deployments.
6G, the next generation of wireless, is still largely a vision. But even today we know that once it takes shape it will open a world of possibility and a wealth of opportunity. As the day continued, the Symposium panelists and speakers explored how.
Panel 1: Shaping Up 6G: Drivers, Use-Cases and KPI Requirements
In many technology visioning exercises, KPIs and driving factors are often determined by technical elements and technology solutions; however, this panel looked beyond those issues to address real world social and economic indicators, many of which have generational consequence, like the industry's impact on climate change and global poverty. Today, most companies recognize that sustainability isn't just a feel-good trend: sustainability, and sustainability in wireless, is good business.
The wireless industry is, for example, approaching the end of the smartphone base station era and entering into an era where devices, only some of which are consumer handsets, connect to a variety of smart surfaces. Panelist Dr. John Smee, Vice President of Engineering at Qualcomm, suggested that from a research standpoint we are halfway through the 5G lifecycle, even though 5G commercialization is beginning in earnest this year. He noted that 6G will bring things like data-driven system design, where we use AI to help design the air interface and help optimize system design and performance.
Samsung SVP and Head of the Advanced Communications Research Center Sunghyun Choi described how new form factors such as XR glasses, VR headsets and hologram devices will be built with low power consumption in mind, while running on networks that use advanced AI and machine learning to optimize energy consumption, among other things.
Virginia Tech professor Walid Saad noted that next generation networks will be more capable of addressing a range of limitations in reliability, mobility and coverage, especially in rural areas, to bring the world more consistent levels of service and availability. Karri Kuoppomaki, Vice President of Technology Development and Strategy at T-Mobile, agreed, sharing that "6G will play critical role in enhancing mobile broadband."
Another interesting driver of 6G identified by the panel is the trend toward standardization of non-terrestrial networks (NTNs), which are beginning to be included in 3GPP Release 17 for 5G, according to Ericsson’s Director of Industry Engagement and Research Afif Ossrrian. NTNs are communications networks that exist in areas not tied directly to land – networks between aircraft, on oceangoing ships, and even in space.
Throughout the discussion, panelists, and industry at large, share a consensus that radio access networks are a major consumer of energy. This panel explored how radio access networks can become more efficient by becoming smarter through the use of AI or with the use of technologies that put certain devices in low power states when they aren’t needed/in use. This method can both reduce network traffic and save considerable power, even in massively dense IoT networks, while the use of a shared spectrum will augment the efficiency of radio access networks.
Panel 2: Understanding the 6G Tech Landscape
Since the beginning of wireless, each new generation has introduced a key technology that enabled its growth. The first generation of cellular -- known as 1G -- brought voice communications, 2G brought data, 3G brought broadband, and 4G brought mobile video. We have yet to determine the "killer app" for 5G, but it utilizes the well-known "triangle of technologies" model to determine new 5G applications. Each corner of the triangle represents one technology ideal and includes: enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC), and massive machine type communications (mMTC). While it is too soon to definitively determine the technologies 6G will deliver, the panelists shared their views on some emerging trends.
Prabhakar Chitrapu, Chair of the Small Cell Forum, outlined the technologies, deployments and services that come along with each wireless generation. As we move from one generational era to the next, the deployments and services from the prior generation must first mature, then new technologies are introduced, after which the deployments and services mature again, and the cycle repeats.
According to Takehiro Nakamura, SVP and General Manager of NTT DoCoMo, the 6G era will be a time of extremes: extreme high throughput, extreme coverage, extreme low energy and low cost, extreme low latency, extreme high reliability, and extreme massive connectivity. These extremes may become the defining feature of 6G, moreso than any single defining technology. In addition, he shared that 6G may be defined by new network topologies that emphasize advancements in areas like device-to-device communications and the addition of NTNs.
Following the trend of 5G, experts expect 6G to continue the evolution toward software-defined networking. As industry moves away from proprietary eNodeB and closed, telephony-based core architecture towards a distributed, user-defined, cloud and commodity hardware-based model in 5G, these evolutions and focus on open architecture and open standards will likely continue. "The sea change here is de-coupling the technology from the architecture," said Larry Peterson, CTO of the Open Network Foundation.
When it comes to spectrum, 6G is positioned to find ways to exploit new spectrum and more aggressively utilize the spectrum that is available. Quantum computing will play a role in 6G as well, albeit a potentially paradoxical one. On the one hand, quantum encryption, storage, and possibly even blockchain technology will help make aspects of 6G a reality. On the other, quantum can also pose new cybersecurity threats, possibly even before it becomes an asset.
Lastly, the panel was somewhat divided when determining which standard will introduce 6G, but most panelists agree that Release 19 or 20 will be the earliest true 6G standard.
Panel 3: The Role of AI/ML in 6G Wireless Systems
AI and machine learning are the hottest topics in wireless today, and it is a topic that grows in interest, and complexity, as we move beyond 5G. During the “Role of AI/ML in 6G Wireless Systems” panel, DeepSig CTO Tim O'Shea described the evolution by saying, "ML & AI technology is behind all of these: device density, spectral and spatial efficiency and optimization, data driven AI applications, reliability and QoS, bandwidth, latency, energy efficiency and ultra-massive and distributed MIMO." In next generation networks, complex AI/ML algorithms will help maximize hardware efficiency and resources for countless high throughput devices and significantly improve capacity between different network components.
When exploring the use of AI in radio access networks, John Davies, Program Manager at DARPA, shared that while so-called "cognitive radio" is not a new idea, and the early research is encouraging (though questions remain whether the technology exists to make it worthwhile in the near term.) Certain aspects of the new technology require further study, such as how to ensure spectrum sharing is handled fairly and in predictable ways. Davies noted that, "it will be a challenge to figure out how to manage the oversight of these radios." As a result, industry may need new rules, and even new algorithms and data sets, to address that uncertainty.
InterDigital Engineer John Kaewell highlighted that ML will be "a powerful tool in the 6G system designer's toolbox." He described how ML can provide impressive performance gains over traditional systems design approaches. He also noted that for ML to play a major role in 6G wireless, we will need several pieces in preparation, including large and open datasets, advancements in deep learning models and training methods, and ready availability of high computational power.
While the expert panelists shared a diverse array of viewpoints, all agreed on one topic: Industry can't let go of domain knowledge. Despite the allure of these intelligent networks, industry can't just turn every function over to AL/machine learning. To be effective and manageable, AL/ML networks must be built on strong foundations of human knowledge and human oversight – machine learning will surely help with network functions too complex for human management. And that reality will unlock tremendous potential and efficiency.
Fireside Chat with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
Day 1 of the Symposium rounded out with an engaging fireside chat between InterDigital CEO Bill Merritt and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
In a wide-ranging and frank discussion, the two discussed the ways the FCC's role has changed in recent years and how the Chairman expects it, and its responsibilities, to evolve as the industry moves toward 6G. Pai praised the private sector for stepping up to deliver on the promise of 5G, and particularly highlighted the United States' leadership role in the global standards development.
Throughout the discussion, the pair discussed topics as specific to the industry as precision agriculture and as broad as the importance of standardization. In a lively discussion on spectrum, the Chairman highlighted the FCC's somewhat diplomatic role in helping carriers work together to solve spectrum availability challenges in recent years.
A pressing question perhaps on everyone's mind was the influence of China in the wireless ecosystem. The Chairman explained how the FCC's position toward companies like Huawei and ZTE was not about singling out those companies, but instead establishing a risk-based framework to protect the interests of the American people. Moreover, he highlighted that issues of security and privacy, and those like rural broadband access, were not partisan issues, but instead American issues in need of a unified solution.
The fireside chat ended the first day of the 6G Symposium on a very positive note, ending with a reminder of the importance of open standards while encouraging innovation and developing new technology solutions to emerging problems in the next evolution of wireless – 5G, 6G, and beyond.
Join us for Day 2 of the 6G Symposium for a deeper dive into spectrum sharing, experimental research, and all things 6G. Please visit www.6gsymposium.com for more information.
This week, InterDigital partner Avanci, a licensing platform focused on IoT and the connected car market, announced a new patent licensing agreement with Volvo Cars. After similar deals with a variety of carmakers including Volkswagen, Porsche, BMW, and others, the new announcement shows the great momentum that this transparent, simple licensing solution is generating.
As a founding member of Avanci since 2016, InterDigital joins industry leaders in making its portfolio of 3G and 4G standards-essential patents available to innovators and manufacturers across the IoT ecosystem through a simple, one-stop solution.
Avanci’s agreement with Volvo Cars brings new opportunities to the connected car ecosystem and raises the number of auto brands licensed through the marketplace to 14. In return, Volvo Cars will receive licenses to the 2G, 3G, and 4G essential patents licensed by InterDigital and Avanci’s 35 other marketplace participants, as well as future contributors.
The 39th annual IEEE Sarnoff Symposium is taking place September 24-25, and InterDigital Senior Director Robert Gazda will be presenting an invited talk. The IEEE Sarnoff Symposium has brought together telecom and communications experts from industry, universities, and governments since 1978. It is a premier forum for researchers, engineers, and business executives, with keynotes, invited talks, expert panels, tutorials, demos, exhibits and poster presentations.
Robert’s talk is titled “Edge Computing in Emerging 5G Networks”. Attendees will discover options for deploying and integrating Edge Computing into the 5G system. Edge Computing is a foundational technology that enhances network flexibility, efficiency, and bandwidth utilization while meeting demanding 5G KPI’s for ultra-reliable/low-latency applications including automated factories and autonomous vehicles.
Robert will discuss key challenges for deploying and managing the 5G Edge Cloud such as orchestration, network slicing and resource demand coordination across stakeholders. He will also talk about how Edge Computing is being supported within the 3GPP 5G specifications, and go over a few 5G Edge Cloud deployment scenarios as compared to Edge in 4G.
“Edge Computing in Emerging 5G Networks” is slated for Monday, September 24 from 1:50 p.m. (13:50) to 2:10 p.m. (14:10) in Ballroom A. The symposium is being hosted at the NJIT Campus Center in Newark, N.J. For more details on the 39th annual IEEE Sarnoff Symposium, visit the event website.
Of course, not many companies in the tech space have the history that InterDigital does: we were founded one year after Intel introduced the first microprocessor, and the same year as Wang introduced the first word processor and that Pong was launched. We thought it would be great if we dug into the vaults, pulled together some of our material, and created a series of short videos on some of the most important moments in our history as a company. The result is available at https://www.interdigital.com/history/
We take pride in the fact that many of our shareholders, partners, alumni and others have a long history of association with the company, many dating back to our International Mobile Machines (IMM) days. For those who’ve been part of the extended InterDigital family for a long time, I hope you’ll enjoy the comments and memories of Gary Lomp, Fatih Ozloturk, Brian Kiernan, and others whose time with the company has marked our history, as well as footage of the first Ultraphone deployments, the Reagan Ranch, the Avianca crash, and other oddball moments that have marked our first 45 years.
We’d like to congratulate our friends at Avanci, the patent licensing platform that provides licenses to cellular standards-essential patents for the Internet of Things, which we joined in 2016. Through the summer they’ve been growing, adding Vodafone, Panasonic and Sharp to the platform, increasing the value for licensees. And today, they announced their first licensee: German car maker BMW. Their news announcement is available at the link below. Congratulations!
As many of you know, two years ago we changed to a fully virtual Annual Shareholder Meeting format, in keeping with our role as a technology leader. Some of you will recall that the Q&A portion of last year’s meeting was cut short by a storm-driven power failure, but we think the odds of that happening twice in a row, coinciding with our annual meeting date and time, are pretty low. So looking forward to seeing you next week!
The virtual format comes with some new meeting registration procedures, so we’ve posted a document that clearly spells out what you need to do to attend online. The press release went out this morning, and the document can be viewed here.
Please make sure you read it, and factor in some time on the day of the event to register correctly. Think of it the same way you’d attend in person, where you’d leave in plenty of time to make it in case of traffic and would factor in time to register at the desk. Online registration opens at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time on June 14. The instructions are simple, and there are resources (including a toll-free number) available if you’re having any issues.
Thanks, and looking forward to your participation.
Just a quick note to our valued shareholders that additional questions and answers from the Annual Shareholder Meeting have been posted, and can be viewed here. Our apologies for the mishap with the power failure – everything we could control was going great, but we can’t control the weather!
When the meeting ended there were three questions by e-mail that had not been answered and a further five questions submitted via the online platform remaining in the queue, with some overlap between the questions as is invariably the case. We’ve also responded to a lengthy comment on why we hold a virtual shareholder meeting.
Thank you all for attending this year – with over 90 online attendees it was a success, but even we can’t do much about confirmed tornadoes!
The oneTRANSPORT initiative in the UK has been an enormous success, highlighting the tremendous role that breaking down data silos and exposing new sources of data can play in improving services for consumers… and driving revenue for public authorities.
It’s also been getting a lot of attention in the technology media. After an excellent article last week in ComputerWeekly, this time it’s Computer Business Review having a look at the project, with a very interesting angle: how cities and public authorities can use IoT technology (in this case, InterDigital’s oneMPOWER™ platform) to monetize their data at a time of ongoing public spending cutbacks. “Projects such as oneTRANSPORT show that councils have important assets already available that might help them ease the pain of spending cuts – and technology might be the way to unlock them,” says CBR’s Alex Sword.
More information on oneTRANSPORT is available in the InterDigital Vault, at this link or by searching “oneTRANSPORT” in the search box.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most important areas of research for InterDigital, for a variety of reasons. For our technologists, we understand that it’s a force that will in all likelihood fundamentally alter the way the world operates, much like the advent of large-scale business computing or the Internet. For our investors, we often highlight that IoT is one of the next big opportunities that the company is working to capitalize on, through a variety of approaches including our Convida Wireless joint venture, our ONEMPOWER M2M service delivery platform, and wot.io, our startup focused on IoT data management.
So although it’s still early days for IoT, we were happy to see InterDigital included in a list of IoT market leaders when it comes to intellectual property. In a blog entry yesterday, Boston-based TechIPm, LLC, a professional research and consulting company specializing in technology and intellectual property mining and management, ranked InterDigital third in its “M2M for IoT Innovation Ranking,” just behind LG and Ericsson and ahead of Samsung, ETRI and Qualcomm, among others.
The ranking underscores the pioneering development and standardization work that InterDigital has done in IoT, including helping to drive the ETSI standard that is now a part of the OneM2M effort. That work has also been captured in a solution, the ONEMPOWER M2M service delivery platform, which was highlighted at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
It should be noted, InterDigital does not vouch for the accuracy of third-party research or the methodologies such researchers employ – TechIPm’s conclusions are their own. Still, it’s nice to be noticed!
Today, our company announced that our board of directors had approved some amendments to our bylaws, in the form of an 8-K. Among the changes there’s one that, as head of investor relations, I’d like to highlight: we adjusted our bylaws to provide InterDigital with the ability to hold a virtual annual shareholder meeting. Virtual annual meetings provide shareholders with the ability not only to hear the proceedings and ask questions online, but also to vote real-time. Annual meetings can be fully virtual or hybrid, combining an in-person physical meeting with an online virtual component.
Fully virtual annual meetings have been progressing in terms of adoption recently – according to Broadridge, one of the leading virtual annual meeting technology providers, the number of companies holding fully virtual annual shareholder meetings almost doubled from 2012 to 2014. While it’s still certainly a minority of public companies, the trend is clear. And, as a company whose brand is intertwined with advanced tech R&D and the future of communications technology, we feel like we should have the flexibility to be on that leading edge.
At InterDigital, part of our analysis about whether a fully virtual annual meeting makes sense or not is rooted in our recent history. In 2013, we nudged virtual participation ahead by taking questions by e-mail and providing an audio webcast. Last year, we went a step further, providing a full HD video webcast and encouraging online participation (but not real-time voting). The results were significant: although the event was still optimized for in-person participation, we had only a handful of shareholders in attendance… but more than 70 online.
So the bylaw change is motivated by something very simple: the desire to have the ability to optimize the annual meeting for the vast majority of people who attend it, and to make it easier and more enjoyable for as many shareholders as possible to fully participate.
We have not yet decided whether we will hold a fully virtual annual meeting in 2015, but we wanted to make the bylaw change now so that we have the option, either now or in the future.
The topic of patent reform and intellectual property has been a hot one in recent years, and the wireless and technology industries have focused tremendous amounts of attention on it. The Consumer Electronics Association, of which InterDigital is a member, chose this year to host a panel on the topic and reached out to our President and Chief Executive Officer, Bill Merritt. As Bill said prior to the panel, “When you look at the topic it seems like everyone is fighting, but when you take the discussion to a high enough level, everyone agrees on what we need: quality patents, the elimination of bad actors, and responsible industry practices.”
The extremely well-attended session was hosted by Michael Petricone, (@mpetricone, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for the Consumer Electronics Association). Bill Merritt was joined on the panel by Lee Cheng (@leecheng and Chief Legal Officer of NewEgg Inc.), Sally Washlow (President of Cobra Electronics), Laurie Self (VP if Government Affairs at Qualcomm Inc.), and Katie McAuliffe of Digital Liberty, a Washington-based lobby group.
As Michael Petricone said in his introduction, “America has always been characterized by a great patent system, and when you walk the halls of this show you see concrete evidence of that.” He described what he characterized as “everyone’s goal” of balancing incentive to innovation with reigning in practices that can be detrimental to companies.
“Our company wouldn’t exist without a strong patent system – half the products that you see out in the show wouldn’t exist without a strong patent system,” said Merritt, who further underlined that the correct way forward lay in “striking a balance” between innovation and the interests of consumers, businesses and the country. Laurie Self of Qualcomm highlighted the importance of intellectual property protection in the wireless industry. She mentioned that “many of the investments that my company and InterDigital make in research and development are for technologies that may not be in the market for 5 years, or ten years, or ever. The only way we can make those bets is with the protection of the patent system.”
Lee Cheng characterized his stance as defining bad actors via “actions-based” definitions, rather than asserting entity-based descriptions. He defined a two-pronged test for abusive behavior: that the patent being asserted is a bad patent, that probably shouldn’t have been granted; and secondly that the behavior is designed to take advantage of the legal system to extract compensation that is higher than the value of the patent. Sally Washlow highlighted the contrast between innovation and abusive behavior very succinctly: “We’re a company, we develop technology and have patents and we have nothing against licensing, but often when we receive letters we feel like we’re being extorted.”
Merritt highlighted the agreement on the panel, and underscored that a number of elements that have been put in place – the Alice decision, post-grant review, etc. – have just begun to take effect, and they should be provided more time to work, prompting visible agreement from a number of participants. He further made the point that a fundamental issue is that while people agree at a higher level on general principles, when the actual litigation on these topics is drafted it generally extends far beyond that level of agreement. He offered the example of demand letters: “The idea was to defend mom and pop coffee shops and users like that, who were held up as the examples of who was being affected. But when the draft legislation arrived, it was a pleading minefield, that was designed to protect large, multinational companies implementing the technology in their products.”
In the interest of posting timely content specific quotes have been delivered as accurately as possible, but readers are encouraged to view the entire video of the panel for verbatim content. All in all, what was noteworthy with the panel was the reasoned, nuanced and sophisticated level of debate and discussion – which contrasted markedly with the strident accusations and name-calling that we often see when the topic of intellectual property is brought up in tech circles. Credit to Michael Petricone for assembling an excellent panel, and leading the discussion very effectively. Hopefully the level of discussion in other circles – the tech industry globally, and public policy capitals around the world – can achieve a similar level of civility and intellectualism.
In his Signals Flash roundup of the most exciting features of the recent Mobile World Congress, leading industry analyst Mike Thelander of Signals Research highlighted InterDigital’s 60GHz millimeter-wave hotspot research, which was announced at the conference in collaboration with imec. According to Thelander, “If the solution works as proposed it would make it far easier and faster to deploy high-capacity wireless backhaul connectivity to the small cell. Further, the solution could be far more resilient to disruptions in the millimeter wave radio link which requires line-of-site and the ability to cope with high propagation loss, not to mention weather-related interruptions.”