IEEE ComSoc CTN Special Issue on From Smartphones to Connected Sensors: It’s a Mobile Device Revolution

CTN Issue: December 2014

By Elena M. Neira – Director of Online Content, IEEE ComSoc Board of Governors

The Mobile Communications Industry is in the midst of a race to connect the World with devices such as smartphones, tablets, wearables and everyday objects. It is a real device revolution that is impacting our lifestyles, our businesses and our institutions.

A key aspect of these devices is that they are gaining the ability to communicate wirelessly with each other, with the end user, and with remote locations via sensors, beacons and other data gathering and broadcasting technologies. This is a major trend that we are going to investigate in this issue of IEEECTN presenting the evolutionary role of the device toward becoming a network/relay node. Technologies such as cloud, mesh, D2D, and P2P are the key enablers of such a trend.

Inside these devices reside a large and sophisticated number of components such as mobile application processors, modems, sensors, chipsets, radios, and battery. All of them are growing in complexity and numbers; at the same time, their prices – driven by cost and performance improvements in digital technologies- are getting cheaper and cheaper, making it easier to incorporate sophisticated multiple functionality into the device. This is also another key trend and enabler of the device revolution, and we look at it in the third and last article of this month’s IEE/ECTN to present the hardware characteristics of a smartphone applications processor.

In summary the three articles selected this month are as follows:

  • Small, Low-Power, Connected Sensors: "Energy Harvesting Active Networked Tags (EnHANTs) for Ubiquitous Object Networking"

  • When the Device is the Network with Mesh, P2P and D2D"Device-to-Device Communications Underlying Cellular Networks"

  • The “Smarts” on Smartphones: “A 1.6 GHz quad-core application processor manufactured in 32 nm high-k metal gate process for smart mobile devices”

 

Small, Low-Power, Connected Sensors: "Energy Harvesting Active Networked Tags (EnHANTs) for Ubiquitous Object Networking"

Authors: Gorlatova, M. ; Kinget, P. ; Kymissis, I. ; Rubenstein, D.; Xiaodong Wang ; Zussman, G.
Title: "Energy Harvesting Active Networked Tags (EnHANTs) for Ubiquitous Object Networking"
Publication:  Wireless Communications, IEEE - December 2010

Small, low-power active devices are the focus of this article describing Energy-Harvesting Active Networked Tags (EnHANTs): Small, flexible devices that gather energy from light, vibration or other environmental sources. EnHANTs are capable of transmitting up to 30 feet (9 meters) without consuming much energy, acting as wireless transceivers that use ultra-wideband to send short pulses or bursts of information. The device could, for example, transmit 2 megabits of data per second by sending 3- to 4-nanosecond pulses every half-microsecond. EnHANTs are small, flexible devices that gather energy from light, vibration or other environmental sources. The authors describe that the end goal is to make these devices inexpensive, so they can be attached to items, such as books, clothing, toys, furniture and even to produce.

This article won the IEEE Communications Society Award for Advances in Communication in 2011.  Earlier this year, at the Advanced Communications Symposium organized by IEEE North Jersey Section, we caught up with Peter Kinget, one of the authors of the article. He gave us an update on the research which included and update on EnHANTs for the Internet of Things (IoT), and using ultrasound for data transmission in smartphones.

You can watch Peter Kinget’s update in IEEE ComSoc Beats TV Channel (beats.comsoc.org) or in ComSoc’s YouTube Channel in this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-4pVOcG8o4

 

When the Device is the Network with Mesh, P2P and D2D"Device-to-Device Communications Underlaying Cellular Networks"

Authors: Daquan Feng; Lu Lu ; Yi Yuan-Wu ; Li, G.Y. Gang Feng ; Shaoqian Li
Title: "Device-to-Device Communications Underlying Cellular Networks"
Publication:  Communications, IEEE Transactions on - August 2013

Smartphones, mobile apps, mesh networking, WiFi, and Bluetooth technologies are giving users new and enhanced ways to communicate without using Internet or Cellular Networks, or supplementing them with additional capabilities.

An example of these innovative enhanced ways to use communications technologies comes from recent events in Hong Kong. The WSJ reports how the pro-democracy movement is relaying on mobile messaging apps, to communicate without using cellular or internet service. Using a unique combination of communication technologies available in smartphone platforms, in radio technologies, and in networking, a mobile messaging app, FireChat, creates peer-to-peer (P2P) connections between devices to transfer messages (text, pictures, etc.) to nearby phones via mainly Bluetooth, until they reached the desired user(s). Messages can only move to other phones which have the application installed and are within range (a few hundred feet.) The version 2.0 of the app supports multi-hop WiFi mesh networking and channel bonding. Apple’s iOS platform supports this application via the Multipeer Connectivity Framework.

These technologies might someday be used to tie together thousands of devices and make possible to be online without the need of a traditional network, or a network operator. They could also facilitate emergency or disaster communications in the absence of Cellular towers and/or network connectivity. They could also – like in our featured article cooperate and integrate with the Cellular Network.

The article "Device-to-Device Communications Underlying Cellular Networks" is one of IEEE Transactions on Communications (TCOM) articles that Robert Shober, Editor in Chief of this publication, highlights in his list of the Top-10 TCOM downloaded articles.  The article deals with the integration and coexistence of traditional cellular and new D2D based communications. It argues that in cellular networks, proximity users may communicate directly without going through the base station, which is called Device-to-device (D2D) communications and it can improve spectral efficiency. However, D2D communications may generate interference to the existing cellular networks if not designed properly. The article looks at a resource allocation problem to maximize the overall network throughput while guaranteeing the quality-of-service (QoS) requirements for both D2D users and regular cellular users (CUs). A three-step scheme is proposed. It first performs admission control and then allocates powers for each admissible D2D pair and its potential CU partners. Next, a maximum weight bipartite matching based scheme is developed to select a suitable CU partner for each admissible D2D pair to maximize the overall network throughput. Numerical results show that the proposed scheme can significantly improve the performance of the hybrid system in terms of D2D access rate and the overall network throughput. It also shows that the performance of D2D communications depends on D2D user locations, cell radius, the numbers of active CUs and D2D pairs, and the maximum power constraint for the D2D pairs.

 

The “Smarts” on Smartphones: “A 1.6 GHz quad-core application processor manufactured in 32 nm high-k metal gate process for smart mobile devices”

Authors: Se-Hyun Yang ; Jungyul Pyo ; Youngmin Shin ; Jae Cheol Son
Title:“A 1.6 GHz quad-core application processor manufactured in 32 nm high-k metal gate process for smart mobile devices”
Publication:  Communications Magazine, IEEE - April 2013

What makes smartphones smart, and what are the key enablers to make them smarter? The answer rests in understanding how core hardware and software components of these devices serve the use cases and the business models. We have chosen and article that looks at the hardware specification of an applications processor. Particularly the article introduces a 32 nm application processor designed for high-performance smartphones and discusses its design targets and options. To meet unprecedented levels of performance and data throughput demands, this processor employs a 200 MHz-1.6 GHz quad-core CPU, a quad-core GPU, a 2-port interleaving DRAM controller, dedicated video/audio/image processors, a camera/ display controller, and a hierarchical bus. The processor does it in a given power budget and battery life, and also in a given thermal budget by combining 32 nm high-k metal gate process technology with system-level power management techniques and dynamic thermal management techniques.

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