Impulse To Innovation

Season 2 Episode 4: Waves & Wireless - How Telecommunications is Revolutionising Society

May 3, 2021

This month’s episode is all about telecommunications.

The world of wireless comms has come a long way since Bell and Tainter first conceived the photophone in 1880.  Today, we are literally surrounded by radio waves and it is believed that from that first intentional radio signal we sent into space in 1974 from Arecibo, our radio echoes can be heard across the galaxy some 100 light years away.

Back here on earth, the social revolution that occurred in the 1990s triggered by the development of digital wireless networks, is now part of our lives. And indeed, without such systems the last year, of isolation and lockdown, would have been even more unbearable. Today, wireless communications and our connected devices dominate our lives. But what are todays engineers working on that could possibly improve on our data-driven lives tomorrow?

Helen’s guests are Dr James Flint, Professor Misha Dohler and Rick Hanks. They share their thoughts on what wireless networks and communications means to them, and their anticipation of what is to come in the future.

 

Dr James Flint is a chartered engineer with the IET, Reader in Wireless Systems Engineering and Deputy Associate Dean of Teaching in The Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering at Loughborough University. His research focuses on various aspects of wireless systems, and currently he is working on novel computing for sensors, the Internet of Things, and Energy Harvesting. He also has a keen interest in biomimetics, ultrasound and on converting systems found in nature into workable engineering solutions.

Helen talked to James about the advances in wireless systems, and how wearable technology and biomimetics will become an everyday part of our lives.

Useful Links:

https://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/meme/staff/james-flint/

https://repository.lboro.ac.uk/articles/journal_contribution/A_biomimetic_antenna_in_the_shape_of_a_bat_s_ear/9560996

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wearable_technology

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-21701-7

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2205389-what-years-and-years-gets-right-about-the-future/

 

Mischa Dohler is Professor in Wireless Communications at King’s College London, driving cross-disciplinary research and innovation in technology, sciences and arts. He is a fellow of the IET, IEEE and the Royal Academy of Engineering as well as being a serial entrepreneur, composer & accomplished pianist. He is passionate about changing the way we interact with telecommunications and wireless systems through tactile and haptic technology, and is pioneering various novel concepts, which will become reality with 6G.

Helen asked Misha to explain why he is already working on 6G, when 5G is only just being adopted, and why he coined the term the Internet of Skills.

Useful Links:

https://mischadohler.com/academia/

https://mischadohler.com/piano/

https://teensinai.podbean.com/e/the-internet-of-skills-and-5g-the-democratisation-of-technology-with-professor-mischa-dohler/

https://www.thefuturefactory.com/blog/39

https://www.comsoc.org/publications/ctn/5guk-trials-distributing-live-orchestra-over-5g

 

Rick Hanks is the Smart Metering Lead and Industry innovation Principal Director at Accenture.  He has extensive experience of implementing digital transformation, smart metering and business change projects within the utilities and communications sector and is leading the design of the smart metering communications infrastructure across the UK.

Rick is fascinated by the way in which wireless communications can change the way we use our energy resources. He shared his thoughts with Helen on what other technologies might benefit from wireless connections in the future.

Useful Links:

https://www.accenture.com/us-en/blogs/accenture-utilities-blog/reimagining-advanced-metering-infrastructure

https://www.accenture.com/us-en/blogs/accenture-utilities-blog/ami-value-opportunities-abound-for-energy-retailers

https://www.accenture.com/us-en/case-studies/communications-media/o2-telefonica-smart-metering-uk

 

We would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this episode or about your experiences, interest or work in telecoms and wireless systems. If you would like to get in touch email us at podcast@imeche.org

You can find more information about the work of the IMechE at www.imeche.org