Tim Cosgrove heads two technology companies Co-Star and Cloud-Star who supply 4G LTE connectivuty products to the ICT industry globally and are based at Harrogate in the UK.
Working at the forefront of the mobile communications industry gives Tim a unique perspective on the latest emerging technologies that help to improve how businesses and people communicate and operate in the future. Tim is keen to share his insights and passion for the latest technologies through the Co-star blog.
Please get in touch if you have any technology related news or press releases that you would like us to share.
Vodafone made a holographic 5G call and accelerated its launch plans
Vodafone has just completed the UK’s first live holographic call over 5G, with England and Manchester City Women’s Football Captain, Steph Houghton MBE being projected as a hologram from Manchester to Newbury.
During the call she gave footballing tips to 11-year-old Manchester City and Lionesses fan, Iris, emphasising in the process the potential for holographic calls to be used for remote coaching and training, as unlike just a phone call or even a video call, it’s almost like the person is actually there.
There are all sorts of useful things this technology could be used for, such as essentially placing all participants of a conference call in the same room, letting fans get closer to their idols – whether sports stars, musicians, actors or anything else, or just making calls a lot more personal and more like a face to face conversation. It’s one of many new technologies that the high speed and low latency of 5G could power.
Of course, there’s other tech involved in holograms than just 5G, and as Richard Foggie of the Knowledge Transfer Network explained to the BBC, headgear or an enclosed ‘cave’ is required to view holograms currently, limiting their viability, but he predicts that five years from now that hurdle will have been overcome. By which point 5G should be widely available.
Coming sooner than you might think
In fact, you shouldn’t have to wait long at all to start getting 5G from Vodafone, as the network has also announced that it will bring 5G to Cornwall and the Lake District during 2019, with 1,000 5G sites set to be active by 2020.
That’s notable for two reasons. Firstly, Vodafone had previously said not to expect 5G from the network before 2020, so it seems as though it has accelerated its launch, putting it more in line with EE and BT.
Secondly, it sounds like the network will be putting a lot of focus on rural areas in the early days, which is surprising, but potentially a good thing, as there has been concern that rural places could initially get left behind, leaving a greater digital divide between them and cities than there is now. It seems Vodafone doesn’t want to let that happen.
U-Linc, a new Internet of Things (IoT) device protocol which has been developed at the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre, could dramatically improve the experience of staying at a hotel.
One of the key challenges with smart home applications and similar smart device implementations, such as those which could be used in hotels, is that users typically need a different app for each type of technology – e.g. lighting, heating, security, etc., and this leads to a disjointed customer experience.
U-Linc, a next-generation protocol likened to Bluetooth, allows users to access and control numerous IoT devices from different manufacturers via one interface. When users decide to operate an IoT device via U-Linc, a branded interface is created for that device. Device manufacturers retain control over the customisation.
Professor David Sampson, Vice-Provost of Research and Innovation at the University of Surrey, said: “We are proud that U-Linc was developed here at the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre. U-Linc is indicative of the forward and enterprising thinking that we encourage our researchers to adopt. We are excited to see how this product develops in the years to come.”
Hotel of the future
U-Linc’s creators believe the protocol could have applications in a number of industries, including hospitality, potentially enabling hotels to offer unique experiences for each guest as well as the ability to better manage guest access to hotel rooms, areas and facilities.
A number of hotel chains are eyeing the opportunities offered by the IoT. Late last year, Hilton announced its Connected Room concept, noting that the ‘mobile-centric hotel room’ idea was based on the fact that hotel guests have limited time in their rooms. The experience should be seamless and they don’t have time to learn a lot of new technology each time they check in.
Marriott has also launched the IoT Guestroom Lab to explore the hotel room of the future, including responsive IoT systems to personalise the experience and streamline operations.
SAS predicts that the IoT will be worth £81 billion in the UK alone by 2022. As new devices come onto the market and more areas of life become connected, the need for a user-friendly interface will increase. A protocol such as U-Linc could also have applications in retail, smart cities, industrial settings and connected cars.
U-Linc can be used via a software licence or provided embedded within a chip.
Access road to central tank farm equipped with smart sensor technology.
Networking of transport infrastructure is growing in importance.
Düsseldorf Airport is one of the most important German hubs in international air traffic. In future, digital processes will play a role in successfully handling its more than 24 million passengers annually. Intact, reliable traffic routes and the construction infrastructure form the foundation of these processes. The airport has teamed with Deutsche Telekom and its partner BS2 Sicherheitssysteme to develop a digital monitoring solution for bridges, tunnels, buildings, and other infrastructure objects made of concrete.
Bridge transmits over the IoT
The access road to the airport’s tank farm is a neuralgic point for smooth flight operations. A bridge provides the sole access route to the farm. More than 120 fuel tank trucks, carrying 30,000 liters of kerosene each, commute daily over this stretch of road between runway and container tanks. This enormous load causes material fatigue in the long term. In the future, sensors and the Internet of Things will identify impending damage, preventing bottlenecks in supplying kerosene to the aircraft. 50 sensors in the road surface and bridge copings measure temperature, humidity, and corrosion. This sensor data can help identify critical conditions or irreparable damage to the concrete structures. The renovation measures can be extensive. The data is exchanged over Deutsche Telekom’s machinery and sensor network (Narrowband-IoT) nearly in real time.
The transportation infrastructure is getting smart
“Previously, material samples were needed to gain information about a building’s condition – a complex method that usually involved destruction,” says Michael Hohenecker, Head of Data Management and Building Inspection at Real Estate Management, Düsseldorf Airport. “We have a bottleneck here at the central tank farm. The digital solution protects us against unforeseeable damage to the access road and the disruptions to tank usage that it would entail.”
Other roads around the Düsseldorf Airport are also being equipped with sensors, step by step. The installed sensors have a lifetime of up to 70 years. They can be installed quickly and easily in new construction products or retrofitted in existing concrete structures.
“Düsseldorf Airport is one of the pioneers in Germany that is using IoT technology for its road constructions at the airport,“ says Ingo Hofacker, responsible for IoT business at Deutsche Telekom. “Networking of transport infrastructure is growing in importance. The new network of equipment and sensors is an ideal foundation for data transmission.”
Sensible Sensors – intelligent bridges: IoT live to see at Düsseldorf airport
Another place where sensors from BS2 Sicherheitssysteme are being deployed is the Köln-Ost junction, where Germany’s Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt) is testing the sensors on their Cologne test grounds, together with Deutsche Telekom’s equipment and sensor network. BS2 Sicherheitssysteme was born in hub:raum, Deutsche Telekom’s startup incubator.
Due to the special properties of the narrowband technology for the Internet of Things (Narrowband IoT), it is an enabler for the IoT. Deutsche Telekom is driving its expansion in Germany, Europe, and North America.
Aircraft that can take off and land directly without the need for a runway – such as helicopters and quadcopters – are attractive for personal, commercial and military applications as they require less physical space and infrastructure compared to traditional fixed wing planes. A team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has achieved a major step forward in stretching the capabilities of quadcopter drones by powering the flight solely by natural sunlight.
The quadcopter drone developed by the NUS Engineering team can be powered solely by sunlight and has flown above 10 metres in test flights.
A first in Asia, the current prototype has flown above 10 metres in test flights – higher than a typical three storey building – utilising solar power with no battery or other energy storage on board.
This solar-powered drone, which was developed as a student project under the Innovation & Design Programme (iDP) at NUS Faculty of Engineering, can take-off and land vertically without a runway. Constructed using lightweight carbon fibre material, the quadcopter drone weighs only 2.6 kg, and has a surface area of about 4 sqm. It is fitted with 148 individually characterised silicon solar cells and supported by a frame equipped with four rotors.
A major aviation feat
Rotary winged aircraft are significantly less efficient at generating lift compared to their fixed wing counterparts. Hence, while there have been examples of solar airplanes in recent years, a viable 100 per cent solar rotary aircraft that can take-off and land vertically remains a major engineering challenge to date.
“Our aircraft is extremely lightweight for its size, and it can fly as long as there is sunlight, even for hours. Unlike conventional quadcopter drones, our aircraft does not rely on on-board batteries and hence it is not limited by flight time. Its ability to land on any flat surface and fly out of the ground effect in a controlled way also makes it suitable for practical implementation,” said Associate Professor Aaron Danner from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NUS Faculty of Engineering, who supervised the project.
The solar-powered quadcopter drone can be controlled by remote control or programmed to fly autonomously using a GPS system incorporated into the aircraft. The aircraft can potentially be used as a ‘flying solar panel’ to provide emergency solar power to disaster areas, as well as for photography, small package delivery, surveillance and inspection. Batteries can be incorporated to power the aircraft when there is no sunlight or for charging to take place during flight to enable operation when it is cloudy or dark. Other hardware such as cameras can also be included for specific applications.
Since 2012, eight NUS student teams have made successive design improvements and worked towards a fully-solar powered aircraft under the supervision of Assoc Prof Danner, who also holds a joint appointment at the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore at NUS. The first solar-assisted quadcopter drone developed by students in 2012 could only achieve 45 per cent of flight power from solar cells and the rest from on-board batteries.
The latest team, comprising then-final year NUS Engineering students Mr Goh Chong Swee, Mr Kuan Jun Ren and Mr Yeo Jun Han, made further refinements to the earlier prototypes of the quadcopter drone. They eventually achieved a fully solar-powered flight with their latest prototype. The team members, who have just graduated from NUS in July 2018, were jointly supervised by Mr Brian Shohei Teo from the iDP programme for this project.
Mr Yeo said, “We encountered many engineering challenges when building the drone. These included finding an optimal number of solar cells efficient and light enough to power the propulsion system, which in turn has to be light and at the same time able to produce sufficient thrust to lift the aircraft. Other issues we faced included tuning and calibration of flight controls to enhance flight stability, as well as designing a frame that is lightweight yet sufficiently rigid. This has been an excellent learning opportunity for us.”
“To be able to make something fly under control for a long time is a very complex engineering problem. Our students have attained flight in its purest form, powered by natural sunlight. This is an amazing achievement,” said Mr Teo.
The team will continue to fine-tune the aircraft to further improve its efficiency. With these enhancements, they hope to bring the technology closer to commercialisation.
LED light bulbs will be used to provide high-speed wireless connectivity in a brand new network trial unveiled by mobile operator O2 at its HQ in Slough today.
The cutting-edge trial, conducted in partnership with pureLiFi, uses LED lights to send large amounts of data, while appearing as white light to the human eye. The move is the latest in a series of O2 network trials as it paves the way for its 5G launch in the UK.
As part of the trial, O2 has installed pureLiFi’s LiFi-XC system, comprising of nine LiFi-enabled LED light bulbs, in the ‘Explore Room’ of its Slough HQ. The system enables data to be transmitted from a LED light bulb and back at high speeds through adjustments in the bulb’s brightness. The result is a high-speed, bi-directional and fully networked wireless communication of data.
The LiFi system has the potential to serve as a serious contender to WiFi, which uses radio frequencies. Its reliance on the visible light spectrum aims to enable safer, more reliable and more secure wireless data communication than WiFi. It also has the potential to reduce infrastructure complexity and energy consumption.
Derek McManus, O2’s Chief Operations Officer, said: “At O2 we’re committed to building the best network possible for our customers, and a huge part of that is making sure we’re ahead of the pack in testing the latest technology.
“Our LiFi trial shows how you can deliver high-speed connectivity to customers in new ways and is another example of how we’re future-proofing our network as we pave the way for 5G in the UK.”
Alistair Banham, CEO of pureLiFi, said: “With the proliferation of internet-of-things devices and continued growth in mobile users, the demand for spectrum is under increasing pressure. LiFi is capable of unlocking unprecedented and much-needed data and bandwidth, and we are delighted that O2 has chosen to partner with pureLiFi to explore this tremendous potential. O2 is at the forefront of championing technologies to provide real solutions for 5G and beyond, and we look forward to working with them towards our common goal.”
UK company FiveAI has been given the go-ahead to deploy data-gathering cars on London’s streets to pave the way for a potential driverless car service.
FiveAI plans to spend the next 10 months deploying five cars (with drivers on board) in Bromley and Croydon to collect data on roads, including layout, topology and traffic flow, as well as road user behaviour. The data collected will be processed in line with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and used to feed into the development of FiveAI’s planned services.
FiveAI notes that all its data collection vehicles will be clearly branded and feature an “obvious array” of sensors to ensure transparency.
The shared service the company is working on will target commuters who drive at least part of their journey. FiveAI hopes to run a supervised trial of autonomous vehicles in London in 2019.
FiveAI co-founder Ben Peters says that autonomous vehicles will be much safer than human-driven cars and the data-gathering exercise is a crucial stage towards getting them onto the roads.
He commented: “By supporting London’s transport objectives with a shared driverless car service, FiveAI can play a crucial role in reducing congestion, emissions, incidents and the cost and time of journeys to benefit all Londoners.”
5G and autonomous vehicles
Some say that autonomous cars will only be a reality when we have 5G. Elsewhere, alongside data-gathering initiatives such as FiveAI’s, trials are ongoing to ensure that 5G connectivity will be in place to support driverless cars in the future.
For example, at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedford, as part of the AutoAir project, led by Airspan Networks, advanced 5G test networks are being deployed to validate connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technologies. The researchers are focused on areas such as complicated cell-tower hand-offs and issues related to bandwidth. They are also looking at how the work they are doing on 5G connectivity could be transferred to road and rail systems.
Meanwhile, government mapping agency, Ordnance Survey (OS), is leading an initiative to help better understand the infrastructure needed to support a nationwide network of CAVs. The E-CAVE project will run for four years and will focus on the geospatial aspects of how CAVs exchange safety-related messages between themselves and the supporting environment.
OS is also working with the 5G Innovation Centre and the Met Office on a digital twinning tool to help determine the best places to put radio antennae to underpin a 5G network.
Brightmove Media (www.brightmovemedia.com) is the UK market leader in real-time digital moving media. Formed in 2013, the organisation has broken new ground by becoming the first Transport for London (TFL) regulated service to deliver rooftop media screens onto London cabs. As a technology media platform, Brightmove has integrated in-built intelligence triggers enabling the dispersal of messages that are geo-targeted, time sensitive, dynamic and highly flexible. This is particularly important for Brightmove’s two main audiences – advertisers who can now utilise a vibrant and far-reaching medium with reduced wastage and improved ROI, and Transport for London, who have exclusive rights to the enabled taxis for public messaging.
The technology behind Brightmove Media is also ahead of the industry curve. Each system uses a private and secure link via 3G cellular networks to stay in constant contact with the centralised media platform that can push out new or updated content in real-time. The system also maintains location awareness via GPS, allowing advertisers to tailor their campaigns and messaging to specific geographic locations.
The design and development has been fully executed in house by BrightMove’s team, giving the organisation opportunity to blend expertise with experience and produce a reliable product that is both innovative yet simple to install, operate and manage. By working closely with the regulator, Brightmove helped develop a high benchmark of technical, operational and safety requirements, helping to set the industry standard going forward.
Ofcom study shows how a decade of technological revolution has transformed our behaviour
One in five people spend more than 40 hours a week online
Brits now need constant connection to internet, and are checking their smartphone every 12 minutes
Most people in the UK are dependent on their digital devices, and need a constant connection to the internet, following a decade of digital transformation revealed by Ofcom today.
The findings are from Ofcom’s Communications Market Report, published today – the most comprehensive study of how communications services in the UK are changing. This year it focuses on how technology has revolutionised our lives within ten years.
2008 was the year the smartphone took off in the UK. With the iPhone and Android fresh into the UK market, 17% of people owned a smartphone a decade ago. That has now reached 78%, in Ofcom’s latest figures, and 95% among 16-24 year-olds.  The smartphone is now the device people say they would miss the most, dominating many people’s lives in both positive and negative ways.
People in the UK now check their smartphones, on average, every 12 minutes of the waking day. Two in five adults (40%) first look at their phone within five minutes of waking up, climbing to 65% of those aged under 35. Similarly, 37% of adults check their phones five minutes before lights out, again rising to 60% of under-35s.
In contrast to a decade ago, most people now say they need and expect a constant internet connection, wherever they go. Two thirds of adults (64%) say the internet is an essential part of their life. One in five adults (19%) say they spend more than 40 hours a week online, up from 5% just over ten years ago. For the first time this year, women spend more time online than men. 
Over the last decade, better access to the internet has transformed how we interact with each other. Two fifths of people (41%) say being online enables them to work more flexibly, and three quarters (74%) say it keeps them close to friends and family.
The amount of time we spend making phone calls from our mobiles has fallen for the first time, as we increasingly use internet-based services such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Using a mobile for phone calls is only considered important by 75% of smartphone users, compared to 92% who consider web browsing to be important.
For significant numbers of people, being online has negative effects. Fifteen per cent of people agree that it makes them feel they are always at work, and more than half (54%) admit that connected devices interrupt face-to-face conversations with friends and family. More than two in five (43%) also admit to spending too much time online.
How do you feel without the internet?
Around a third of people say they feel either cut off (34%) or lost (29%) without the internet, if they can’t get online, and 17% say they find it stressful. Half of all UK adults (50%) say their life would be boring if they could not access the internet.
Conversely, some see a lack of internet access in a positive light. One in ten feel more productive offline, rising to 15% for 18-34 year-olds; and 16% feel less distracted.
The proportion of people accessing the internet on their mobile has increased from 20% almost a decade ago, to 72% in 2018. The average amount of time spent online on a smartphone is 2 hours 28 minutes a day. This rises to 3 hours 14 minutes among 18-24s.
Seventy-two per cent of adults say their smartphone is their most important device for accessing the internet, 71% say they never turn off their phone, and 78% say they could not live without it.
Ian Macrae, Ofcom’s Director of Market Intelligence, said: “Over the last decade, people’s lives have been transformed by the rise of the smartphone, together with better access to the internet and new services.
“Whether it’s working flexibly, keeping up with current affairs or shopping online, we can do more on the move than ever before. But while people appreciate their smartphone as their constant companion, some are finding themselves feeling overloaded when online, or frustrated when they’re not.”
Place of phones in society
Older and younger generations disagree on what constitutes acceptable smartphone use around others. Many people admit that the way they behave in public on their smartphones is unacceptable in principle.
Three quarters of people (76%) find it annoying when someone is listening to music, watching videos or playing games loudly on public transport; while 81% object to people using their phone during meal times.
The majority (53%) of adults say they are usually on their phone while watching TV with others. Six in ten people (62%) over the age of 55 think this is unacceptable, but this drops to just two in ten (21%) among those aged 18-34.
Many commuters now find it essential to be online during their journey, so they can complete tasks in their personal (42%) or professional life (35%). Young adults are more likely to multi-task on their commute: 9% of 18-34s carry out eleven or more online activities, compared to just 1% of over-35s.
To support these trends, Ofcom is working with Government and industry to help improve mobile and internet coverage on major transport routes. This includes building a detailed picture of mobile reception across the UK’s rail network, and releasing more airwaves to improve mobile coverage and capacity.
Notes to editors
1. In 2008, a top-end mobile cost around £500. Now, handsets can cost up to £1,000. This has led to fewer people being able to buy them outright, leading to a shift away from pay-as-you-go services. By 2008, 64% of mobile customers were on pay-as-you-go contracts. Ten years on, they account for just 30% of all mobile subscriptions.
2. Average time online (desktop and mobile) per day, by age and gender in March 2018 (hours & minutes):
3. Commuters’ online activities include checking social media, online shopping and banking, streaming music and using navigation apps.
Nokia’s largest 5G agreement globally will provide end-to-end 5G solutions for T-Mobile’s nationwide 5G network
30 July 2018
Bellevue, Washington and Espoo, Finland – T-Mobile (NASDAQ: TMUS) and Nokia today announced a landmark $3.5 billion agreement to accelerate the deployment of a nationwide 5G network. Nokia will provide T-Mobile with its complete end-to-end 5G technology, software and services portfolio, assisting the Un-carrier in its efforts to bring its 5G network to market for customers in the critical first years of the 5G cycle.
“We are all in on 5G,” said Neville Ray, Chief Technology Officer at T-Mobile. “Every dollar we spend is a 5G dollar, and our agreement with Nokia underscores the kind of investment we’re making to bring customers a mobile, nationwide 5G network. And together with Sprint, we’ll be able to do So. Much. More.”
As part of the agreement, Nokia will help build T-Mobile’s nationwide 5G network with 600 MHz and 28 GHz millimeter wave 5G capabilities compliant with 3GPP 5G New Radio (NR) standards.
“Nokia and T-Mobile will advance the large-scale deployment of 5G services throughout the United States,” said Ashish Chowdhary, Chief Customer Operations Officer, Nokia. “This is a testament to our companies’ strong and productive working relationship, one which has produced several important technological milestones in recent months, and which now allows us to make 5G a commercial reality.”
5G promises to enable faster speeds, massive connectivity, decade-long battery life for sensors and super-responsive and reliable networks for customers. This will unleash on-demand virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences, driverless vehicles, medical monitoring, advanced industrial automation services, and so much more – all requiring ubiquitous low latency connectivity.
T-Mobile will leverage multiple products across Nokia’s end-to-end 5G technology, software and services portfolio, including commercial AirScale radio platforms and cloud-native core, AirFrame hardware, CloudBand software, SON and 5G Acceleration Services.
Using 5G, Nokia and T-Mobile will develop, test and launch the next generation of connectivity services that will cover a wide range of industries, including enterprise, smart cities, utilities, transportation, health, manufacturing, retail, agriculture and government agencies.