How NeRF Technology Is Creating the Next Generation of Media
The ways we create and consume visual media are constantly evolving, allowing us to experience places and things as if we’re physically present in those environments. Today, thanks to a fast-growing technology called a Neural Radiance Field ("NeRF"), anyone with a regular camera can make and share "3D photographs" of the real world. NeRFs have been around since the 2020 publication of Representing Scenes as Neural Radiance Fields for View Synthesis, but recent developments have made it easier than ever to start making immersive 3D media.
If you’ve ever viewed a 3D house tour or a 3D piece of furniture on an e-commerce website, you might be wondering: What makes NeRF unique? The answer is that NeRF introduces unprecedented photorealistic detail, including the ability to see reflections and transparencies like never before. You can see an example of NeRF in this capture created by our intern, Tyler McCormick:
NeRF makes high-quality 3D content creation fast and intuitive. CableLabs' Immersive Media Experiences team has been following the developments surrounding NeRF and other forms of immersive media to understand how these technologies transform the ways we live, learn, work and play. In time, immersive applications may emerge as major drivers of network traffic, so we’re working to understand the resources required to deliver these next-generation experiences.
In this blog post, we take a look at how NeRF works, how to use it yourself and how it’s influencing the future of immersive media.
NeRF in a Nutshell: How It Works
Essentially, NeRF is a machine learning system that takes photos or videos of a subject and memorizes the appearance of that subject in 3D. The NeRF-creation process looks something like this:
- Record a regular video or take a set of photos of your subject. Your phone will do!
- Take each of those images and figure out their positions relative to each other. You can do this with sensors fixed to the camera or, more easily, with an AI pipeline such as COLMAP.
- Train a multi-layer perceptron (a kind of neural network) to behave like a renderer that’s specialized at producing images of this subject.
- Now, you have a NeRF! You can use this neural network to create new images and videos of your subject, as in the above example.
When NeRF was first published in 2020, this creation process took hours. Today, advancements such as NVIDIA’s Instant Neural Graphics Primitives have brought the time down to the order of minutes or even seconds!
When we called NeRF a “3D photograph” earlier, we meant it. Essentially, a NeRF tries to describe the color and density of light emitted at each point in a 3D space. If you look at the same point of a real object from various angles, you might see different colors and densities. NeRF reproduces this effect to achieve reflections and transparencies, just as if you were viewing a real 3D object.
The NeRF process results in a high level of detail, but there’s one catch: The NeRF model assumes that you’re working with a still, unchanging scene. Light-based effects are “baked in,” meaning that you can’t add new objects to the scene and see them cast shadows or appear in reflections. If subjects move or change over time in the input video, the NeRF output will appear blurry or misshapen. New research papers have identified ways around these limitations, but those solutions haven’t yet reached wider adoption. In the meantime, anyone want to bring back the Mannequin Challenge?
It’s easy to start playing with NeRF. For example, Luma AI has built an app for iPhones and the web that automatically builds NeRFs from your videos. Once you have a NeRF, you can make videos and export them to other content-creation tools, including the Unreal game engine. Luma has a gallery of diverse NeRF-based content submitted by their users here.
If you want to take a more hands-on approach to NeRF creation, nerfstudio is a free, open-source toolset for creating NeRFs and designing advanced 3D graphics pipelines with the new technology. The learning curve is steeper, but power users and developers may enjoy the increased flexibility that this method offers.
NeRF and Next-Generation Media
Improved 3D capture of real-world subjects opens up opportunities across multiple industries. Here are a few examples.
Digital productions and VFX artists are already finding ways to incorporate NeRF into creative workflows. The most obvious use in content creation is converting real-world subjects to 3D representations that can be combined with synthetic content, but NeRF can also be used to smooth camera movements or compose multiple camera shots into unified sequences. To see for yourself, check out this Corridor Crew video on YouTube and this McDonald’s commercial about the Chinese New Year (including the additional behind-the-scenes content in the replies).
Digital twins and simulations, as described by platforms like NVIDIA Omniverse, have presented a compelling value proposition for accurate digital modeling of real-world systems such as factories and autonomous vehicles. Where applicable, NeRF may be an effective way to digitize real-world environments for use in models and simulations. One example in the wild is Wayve Technologies’ effort to build city-scale NeRFs for autonomous vehicle simulations, as presented at NVIDIA GTC 2023.
Finally, metaverse initiatives often aim to empower users to build and share their own content and experiences. Games like Minecraft and Roblox provide user-friendly content-creation tools, but photorealistic content creation is usually reserved for experts with training on professional tools or access to specialized photogrammetry software. Now, cloud-hosted apps like Luma and nerfstudio make it possible to generate photorealistic content in minutes with your smartphone and a network connection.
NeRF Is Accelerating Immersive Media
Immersive media comes in many forms, including but not limited to virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality and light field displays. NeRF alone isn’t going to make or break any of these technologies as they continue to mature and enter the market, but it gives creators and developers another tool to get one step closer to a photorealistic holographic immersive experience.
In the past, we’ve asked readers to imagine that we had a way to capture life-like holograms of subjects. Thanks to NeRF and related technologies, there's no need for make-believe. Subscribe to our blog for more updates from the Immersive Media Team and other activities at CableLabs.
Available Now: Ransomware Active Attack Response Best Common Practices Document
Ransomware continues to wreak havoc on global industry, governments, individuals and enterprises. Research shows that more than a third of all businesses were victims of ransomware in 2021, and now over a quarter of all malware has been reprovisioned for ransom. Ransomware is the result of malicious attackers compromising a system or network and exfiltrating or encrypting encountered data; victims are then solicited for return of control or access to their data. In many attacks, separate ransoms are demanded for return of the data and for promises not to release that data publicly.
Existing literature and guidelines on how to best prevent ransomware are common and provide useful tools for most businesses. However, CableLabs has found a distinct lack of support for small and midsized businesses (SMBs). What should SMBs under attack do immediately, what decisions should they make and who should be part of the solution? Answers to these questions were not readily available for those that needed them most.
Responding to the SMB Need
CableLabs’ Security and Privacy Technologies team, through their involvement with the Messaging Malware Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group (M3AAWG), explored the creation of a Best Common Practices document to help them navigate the intricacies of a ransomware attack. The creation and refinement of this document reflects our commitment to delivering a threat-resistant networking environment for both wired and wireless networks. We would like to thank each of the individuals and the corporations who contributed to this work under the M3AAWG umbrella.
The freely available Ransomware Active Attack Response Best Common Practices document walks the reader through the ransomware recovery process, but it doesn’t provide a single path through the experience. This document should be used to highlight what is important so that businesses can quickly and effectively move forward while identifying the considerations, expert advice and implications of each decision and action. The goal is to inform the technical team about the critical steps to take and to communicate the results so that the executive team can make the best decisions possible in terms of recovery—as well as how best to involve all the other functions in the organization from legal and operations to marketing and financial executives. This document also provides tools for the reader while engaging with those outside the organization, including cybersecurity insurance companies, incident response teams, negotiators, forensic experts, law enforcement, regulators and media.
How It Works
The document’s first three main sections—Detection, Analysis and Response—identify the responsible, accountable, consulted and informed parties, along with the expected deliverables at each stage. The fourth section fleshes out additional details related to the key decisions the team will be making, understanding the timing, implications and involved concerns. The fifth and sixth sections explore the people (both internal and external to the organization) and the technologies at play in the recovery activities. The document closes with post-incident clean-up, recovery and reflection on what led up to the attack, as well as mitigations for the future. The conclusion also includes a review of how each stage progressed—what went well, what didn’t, where was luck involved, what was missed and more.
The target audience for this document is anyone on the IT team within an SMB but primarily the individuals responsible for the technology business operations. This may be a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) or Chief Information Officer (CIO), or it may be the sales lead who helped build out the network. Not every company has the financial resources or the time to plan for prevention like some larger companies might have, so the objective of this paper was to provide tools in an area that was dramatically devoid of reliable advice. This is a document that the authors hope nobody ever has the necessity to read.
Identifying U.S. Power Grid Disruptions with Broadband Networks
When the power goes out, utility companies are not always aware of the outage until they receive notification from customers. However, broadband operators are aware. In fact, broadband operators likely know when and where power is out before utility companies. It’s this premise that initiated the recently completed Situational Awareness of Grid Anomalies (SAGA) project in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
The SAGA project was created to assist utilities (and our government) in finding real-time insights and patterns of grid cyber incidents that affect power availability and quality, distribution system resiliency and electric service restoration. The project, which utilized data from CableLabs subsidiary, Gridmetrics, combined visual analytics, machine learning and human decision support to enhance distribution grid visibility and operational situational awareness. Built on power system tools developed at NREL, Gridmetrics data and other geospatial data, the project leveraged existing broadband infrastructure to demonstrate a disruptive technology for power system data analytics. The result is an advanced system that allows utility system operators to see a comprehensive overview of power activity across the U.S.
Improving Power Grid Monitoring and Resilience with Broadband Network Integration
Consider the scenario whereby a bad actor is able to compromise devices that interact with the power grid, such as smart thermostats, hot tubs, hot water heaters or even electric vehicle chargers. In this case, our siloed utilities would each respond to the sudden increased demand for power without realizing that this was a coordinated attack aimed at creating a disruption on the power grid. It is power grid hacking jujitsu. Recall, there are over 3,200 operating entities responsible for delivering the last mile of power. No one utility would see the big picture. This is precisely a scenario that SAGA worked to address.
Conducted over a three-year period, with a four-month documentation and reporting period, the SAGA project consisted of three main research thrusts: visual analytics, cyber-physical power system simulation and anomaly detection.
Visual Analytics: To help users understand, explore and analyze grid sensor data, the NREL and Gridmetrics teams designed and prototyped a web-based platform that connects to the project’s three core data services: metadata, near real-time data streams and historical data batches. The current platform allows users to visualize where Gridmetrics sensors are located and their proximity to infrastructure assets in real time. This sensor data empowers utility system operators to see which areas are affected by power performance and where to address the situation to fix it.
Cyber-physical Power System Simulation: Cyber-physical power system simulations are essential to creating a risk-free lab environment to test cyber-relevant events. Dynamic and steady-state cyber-physical power system simulation tools imitated and analyzed the behavior of power systems in real time. Creating a realistic representation of the power grid allowed teams to identify patterns, trends and anomalies to better understand how power systems behave and prevent future cyber threats against the system.
Anomaly Detection: Using the simulation data from cyber-physical power system simulations, the research team successfully demonstrated how system operators can use the sensor data to predict and detect issues that may arise. Each Gridmetrics sensor has a built-in prediction model. Using historical data and machine learning, assuming the system will operate under normal conditions, the sensor can estimate the expected value or range of the associated Gridmetrics voltage. When a sensor detects a deviation between the incoming and the expected voltage, an anomaly is captured. Anomaly detection can prevent future outages, reduce maintenance costs and improve overall system performance.
SAGA Project Learnings and Improvements
Through the SAGA project, Gridmetrics learned that in order to see more grid cybersecurity benefits, it must enhance sensing beyond the hundreds of thousands of existing broadband power sensors already in service. Improving grid sensing with higher fidelity sampling rates, measurement accuracy and GPS time stamping would allow this project to expand and promote widespread commercial availability of secondary distribution grid voltage and phase angle data.
The team proposed and completed a simultaneous technology commercialization project, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Technology Transitions, Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF). During the TCF project, NREL and CableLabs collaborated to implement high-fidelity power grid sensors, built prototype sensors and tested them in the field — all within the timeline of the SAGA project.
What's Next for Our Energy Grid?
Gridmetrics continues accelerating its efforts to improve the quality and scale of data it can provide to customers. At the start of the project, Gridmetrics could only supply data from about 6,000 sensors but now has access to over 315,000 sensors and is working to access the majority of the 650,000 U.S.-based sensors over the coming year. Gridmetrics also aims to increase the fidelity and frequency of sensor reading to enable a real-time, continuous state of the grid. Gridmetrics has the potential to further develop the SAGA project to support additional DOE offices and priorities.
By combining two distinct domains — power and broadband — the SAGA project increases the power grid's resiliency by integrating existing in-service broadband networks that already pass within 1,000 feet of 90% of homes in North America.
In the face of increasing cyber risk and challenges involving the integration of distributed renewable energy sources, NREL and CableLabs’ partnership continues to increase the resilience of the power grid and broadband services. Gridmetrics’ ambition is to create a more secure and reliable power grid by providing a unified view that allows utility system operators (and our government) to better analyze and understand the distribution grid. For more information, please read the peer-reviewed SAGA paper.
Securing IoT Networks: NCCoE and CableLabs Collaborate to Develop Trusted Onboarding Solution
Billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices have been added to the internet over the past several years. During that time, millions of insecure IoT devices have contributed to massive Distributed Denial of Services (DDoS) attacks, exposing end users’ private data. To address the problem of insecure IoT devices, CableLabs participates in and contributes to several industry standards development organizations with the goal of building security into the very foundation of new devices and IoT protocols. This work culminates in the release of Matter 1.0, a secure interoperable IoT specification that major industry players are rapidly adopting.
Secure IoT Onboarding
The next critical challenge in enhancing IoT security is to extend interoperability between devices and the networks that connect them. Smart-home networks must be able to facilitate the addition of new devices, validate devices that are connected, help ensure that those devices are fully patched and updated, and safely isolate them if they’re vulnerable.
The next generation of smart-home networking begins with connecting the devices securely the first time. It’s no longer sufficient or secure to ask that consumers share their Wi-Fi password with every device on their smart home network. The network must be smart enough to give each device its own credentials to connect to the network. Crucially, the process for adding (also called onboarding) a device to the smart home network must be simple, seamless and secure.
Industry and Government Collaboration
To address this challenge, CableLabs has joined the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) Trusted Device Network-Layer and Lifecycle Management. CableLabs and 10 other companies have been collaborating to develop a reliable network-layer onboarding solution for all IoT devices. This solution leverages established non-proprietary standards and protocols, offering secure onboarding while providing device identification, authentication and authorization. This project covers the following objectives:
- Provide the device with unique network credentials that can be updated securely and automatically, allowing the network to authenticate the device and eliminating the need for a shared password across all IoT devices.
- Employ a secure network-layer protocol to facilitate the secure and automatic provisioning of devices with both network and application-layer credentials for connecting with other devices and the cloud.
- Demonstrate successful interoperability between devices built and configured by participating industry collaborators.
Streamlining the User Experience
CableLabs’ contributions to the Trusted Device Network-Layer and Lifecycle Management project harness the simplicity of Wi-Fi Easy Connect from the Wi-Fi Alliance, the secure interoperability of IoTivity from Open Connectivity Foundation and the powerful technology behind CableLabs’ Micronets to create a secure and streamlined process that allows users to onboard, provision and secure devices on their smart-home networks in a single intuitive step.
CableLabs’ involvement in the Trusted Device Network-Layer and Lifecycle Management project underscores its commitment to advancing IoT security and developing best practices for secure and effortless device onboarding. By collaborating with other industry leaders, CableLabs aims to promote the adoption of secure IoT technologies and ensure that consumers have access to reliable and user-friendly solutions for managing their connected devices.
A draft of this work can be found at NIST Special Publication (SP) 1800.
Get Ready for 100G: CPON Architecture Specification Issued
The advancements of coherent passive optical networks (CPON) will lead to a robust and noticeable boost to the customer experience in businesses and the home. The benefits include providing faster downloads, less buffering and increased capacity for many consumer devices using applications simultaneously. Since Passive Optical Network (PON) technology was first deployed in fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks over 30 years ago, it has evolved from 622 Mbps to the 10 Gbps capacity being deployed by network operators today. As consumer appetite for bandwidth continues to grow, CPON will prove a scalable and extensible technology for fiber networks for the next 30 years.
Moving the Industry Closer to the Future of PON Technology
CableLabs has now issued the Architecture Specification for Coherent Passive Optical Networks (CPON) 100 Gbps (100G) Single Wavelength PON. With increased capacity per wavelength, extended reach and higher port density, CPON represents a monumental technological advancement for next-generation broadband access over fiber optic networks. The newly issued specification, first in an expected suite of specifications, will help prepare for the capacities and services needed in the future, ensuring that CableLabs members have the bandwidth and tools necessary to lead the broadband industry. This advancement in speed is a tenet of the 10G platform, with the specification ultimately bringing a faster experience to consumers, businesses and network operators.
Increased Capacity, Extended Reach
Current established PON standards, such as those developed by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), rely on Intensity-Modulation Direct-Detect (IM-DD) technology, which is approaching limits in terms of capacity and network reach. By contrast, 100G CPON provides the increased network capacity needed for emerging applications in high-resolution interactive video, augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR)/mixed reality (MR), the metaverse, smart cities and pervasive communications. This ample capacity makes it possible to support residential broadband customers and to aggregate optical links to small businesses, enterprises and wireless access points.
CPON also introduces coherent detection for broadband access networks, enabling superior receiver sensitivity that allows for an extended optical power budget and higher spectral efficiency. Coherent detection enables 100 Gbps of capacity on a single wavelength, as well as extended reach of the network or a higher split ratio for more efficient sharing of network resources.
In addition to increasing capacity, 100G CPON extends the reach of PON over fiber networks up to 80 kilometers. Current PON technologies have trouble reaching 25 kilometers, limiting deployments to urban centers and suburban areas. Implementing these technologies at the edges of suburban areas and into rural areas commonly requires backhaul using active optical links or facilities such as fiber huts. With a fully passive optical link up to 80 kilometers, 100G CPON solves these problems and enables cost-effective deployment of FTTH in unserved areas.
OLT Ports Support More Users
Optical line terminal (OLT) ports supporting higher split ratios with CPON provide more efficient bandwidth sharing, resulting in cost savings for space, power and cooling at the hub. Current PON technologies are commonly deployed in a central office or hub location, or remotely in a node or cabinet, with each OLT port supporting a split ratio of 32:1 or 64:1. The split ratio means an OLT port shares network capacity (e.g., 10 Gbps) among 32 or 64 end users. CPON offers a split ratio up to 512:1, providing 100 Gbps to support up to 512 end users on a single OLT port while maintaining a typical reach of 25 kilometers.
The 100G CPON Architecture Specification represents the first public milestone in defining next-generation PON technology. The CPON specification working group consists of 17 optical vendors, 14 network operators, CableLabs and SCTE. If your company is interested in joining the CPON spec working group to develop the additional specifications for 100G CPON, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Laser Focused on Fiber: The Can’t-Miss Event to Explore Optical/FTTP Technologies
What are the cable industry’s latest optical and FTTP trends and technology developments? What does the future of fiber optics look like? How can operators and vendors get on the same wavelength to promote innovation and adoption? Connect with CableLabs vendor and member communities to discuss these questions and more at CableLabs Envision Vendor Forum 2023: FTTP & Optical.
Envision is a two-day virtual event that takes place May 3–4, 2023, from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. MDT on both days. Join executives, senior technologists and strategists to hear from industry leaders on key technology, policy and security strategies for fiber optical infrastructure deployments. The last day to register is April 28, 2023 (registration link below).
“CableLabs is seeing strong interest by our member companies world-wide to increase investments in optical deployments. Our goal at this event is to initiate the strategic and technical dialogue between our member and vendor communities to fuel the development of innovative, reliable and interoperable solutions for the market. The lineup of industry influencers this year is incredible, and I look forward to hearing everyone’s views.” —Dr. Curtis Knittle, VP of Wired Technologies
This year’s sessions include:
Operator Wish Lists for Optical and FTTP
Wednesday, May 3, 9:10 - 9:55 a.m. MDT
Israel Madiedo, Director of Innovation and Technology at Izzi, and Robert Kuse, Director at Cox Business Network Engineering, will offer global perspectives on the pain points they’re experiencing as they plan and deploy optical and FTTP projects.
Accessing Coherent: Activating the Access Network
Wednesday, May 3, 9:55 - 10:25 a.m. MDT
Coherent technology is finally coming to the access network. Shawn Esser, Director of Product Management at Coherent, and Fernando Villareal, Chief Architect at Ciena, will discuss implementation, new and emerging products and the new service opportunities this development will enable.
Unlocking the Future of Tech: Exploring the World of Optical Innovations
Wednesday, May 3, 10:35 - 10:55 a.m. MDT
Dr. Steve Jia of CableLabs dives into the latest in coherent optical technology, distributed optical fiber sensing, quantum networking and more.
Hurricane Heroes: Comcast’s Recovery from Hurricane Ian
Wednesday, May 3, 10:55 - 11:20 a.m. MDT
Venk Mutalik, Comcast Fellow, shares how Comcast used P2P coherent optics to speed up recovery after Florida’s Hurricane Ian in 2022.
Operator Spotlight: PONtificating Fiber’s Future for the Next Decade
Thursday, May 4, 9:10 - 9:40 a.m. MDT
How do operators see PON evolving? What are the key factors that operators are considering now that will drive their deployments in the years to come? John Lee, NGA Architect at Vodafone, and Eric Svenson, CTO and VP of Engineering and Technical Operations at Armstrong, will address these key questions and many more.
Getting on the Same Wavelength: The Importance of Interoperability in PON Equipment
Thursday, May 4, 9:40 - 10:00 a.m. MDT
Hear operator and vendor perspectives from Dr. Pao Lo, VP of Network Engineering at Midco, and Ryan Nicometo, Senior VP and GM of Video Broadband Solutions at Vecima Networks, about the importance of interoperability for PON equipment. What impact can the industry expect? How should interoperability best be approached?
Spotlight: CableLabs Optical Program Highlights
Thursday, May 4, 10:10 - 10:25 a.m. MDT
CableLabs shares its roadmap for evolving optical technologies for the industry. This discussion will include updates on current and upcoming activities and available resources. Learn about the key research tracks and their leaders, as well as how to best engage or follow the activities.
INSIGHTS: Cable & PON from the Vendor Perspective
Thursday, May 4, 10:25 - 11:05 a.m. MDT
What can the cable community do to increase the velocity of PON adoption? Join industry experts from Calix, Ciena and Nokia to discuss the challenges of selling into and supporting the cable industry as operators move toward FTTx.
Across the Spectrum: An Analyst’s View
Thursday, May 4, 11:05 - 11:20 a.m. MDT
Close out the day with the latest perspective on the optical market. Hear Jaimie Lenderman, Principal Analyst and Research Manager at Omdia, give highlights on trends and anticipated growth for the next decade.
Register now and join us as we dive deep into industry challenges, technology hurdles for operators, and thought-leading vendor perspectives to accelerate innovation and adoption. We hope to see you there!
Registration closes April 28, 2023. This event is closed to the press, media and analysts.
From Inspiration to Pitch: How Innovation Boot Camp Launched the Idea for ARC HotSpot
Innovation isn’t just about creating new products. It’s about bringing together diverse thoughts, perspectives and experiences to solve big problems. At Innovation Boot Camp, CableLabs members and employees work together in an intimidation-free zone to immerse themselves in the innovative process, from inspiration to final pitch.
During the week of April 24–28, 2023, CableLabs will host the 20th Innovation Boot Camp, where innovators will receive hands-on experience and live coaching from CableLabs CEO Phil McKinney and other expert speakers and coaches. In this spring’s all-virtual format, participants will learn the FIRE framework (Focus, Ideation, Ranking, and Execution), experience the innovation process end to end; and learn strategies that they can apply to their own teams and projects immediately.
It’s an inspiring environment designed to bring the industry closer together and share new ways of creating and innovating.
But do any of the ideas developed at Innovation Boot Camp actually make it to market? Yes, they do.
A Market-Ready Solution to a Real-World Problem
Innovation Boot Camp pulls out all the stops to help participants tackle real issues that they’re facing in their businesses or other contexts. The innovative process we teach is designed to generate ideas that result in viable solutions, many of which have gone on to production.
One of those ideas was Kyrio’s ARC HotSpot, a technology that delivers automated failover for broadband networks. The idea for ARC HotSpot was born out of the 2020 Innovation Boot Camp, which took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, when companies urgently needed reliable remote-work solutions. By holding the very first virtual Innovation Boot Camp in the midst of this new world of work, CableLabs gave participants an opportunity to collaborate and innovate despite lockdown restrictions.
The challenge of the 2020 Innovation Boot Camp was to come up with a technology idea that would make working from home a better experience. Participants learned from veteran coaches, then broke into teams to begin the ideation process. One of those teams was Team Echo, which consisted of CableLabs employees from various backgrounds and areas of expertise, including CableLabs’ Director of Procurement Zen Mykytyn.
During a brainstorming session, Zen observed that one of the most difficult challenges of navigating virtual work and school was keeping everyone connected during a service outage. With two parents working from home and kids logged in to Zoom classrooms, even a short outage resulted in house-wide panic as meetings were disrupted and no one could do their work.
But what if there was a technology that could solve that problem?
Zen’s observation was the spark that launched a week of brainstorming, iterating, investigating and developing the idea that eventually became ARC HotSpot.
From Inspiration to Pitch
With the idea in hand, Zen and the other members of Team Echo started developing a solution. Coached by John Bahr, the team came up with the idea of using a smartphone as a hotspot for the entire home network. They conducted a live customer experience conversation to get real feedback on the idea, put together a one-sheet and a storyboard, and developed a pitch that they would present to the Innovation Boot Camp panel at the end of the week.
“CableLabs’ Innovation Boot Camp, while a fun learning experience, is also a place where game-changing ideas happen,” said coach John Bahr. “My team came up with a solution to a problem that was at the forefront of real customers’ minds during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown. Executing on that solution to turn it into a real product was just so cool!”
At the end of the week, Team Echo pitched their idea over Zoom. Just a few short minutes after Zen began presenting, his connection dropped. One of the other team members picked up the pitch as everyone waited for Zen to re-establish his connection. It was a brilliant, planned demonstration of the exact use case that made the team’s idea so relevant, and the panel agreed it was an idea worth pursuing.
After Innovation Boot Camp ended, John Bahr gave a demonstration that generated significant interest. Kyrio non-exclusively licensed the intellectual property from CableLabs and developed its own implementation, and ARC HotSpot was born.
Innovation Is a Team Sport
Zen strongly believes that the positive, nurturing environment of Innovation Boot Camp and the diversity of the team made it possible for his idea to come to fruition.
“My team included John Bahr, Greg White and Mark Bridges,” he said. “They’re all really smart guys and experts in their fields, but they’re all different. My field isn’t technical thinking or awareness, but working with them gave me a glimpse into what they do every day and how they think. My idea wouldn’t have come to be without the rest of the team.”
That diversity of experience lies at the heart of Innovation Boot Camp’s mission. We believe that great ideas can come from anywhere—and they do. Innovation is a team sport that thrives when diverse thinkers come together in an intimidation-free environment to make things better.
If you’re looking for a hands-on experience that puts words and ideas into action, Innovation Boot Camp is ideal for you. You’ll learn to challenge your thinking, develop new skills and put those skills into action as you work with a team of other innovators.
Ready to see what it’s all about? Join us for the next CableLabs Innovation Boot Camp. Spots are limited, and innovation topics do vary.
NTIA Announces 2023 5G Challenge Contestants
CableLabs congratulates Capgemini, Fujitsu, GXC, Lions Technology, Mavenir, NewEdge Signal Systems and Radisys for being selected as contestants in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) and Department of Defense's 5G Challenge. The competition is hosted by CableLabs, and contestants will compete for up to $7 million in cash and in-kind prizes. This group of participants was selected for their commitment and contributions to developing open and interoperable networks in the 5G ecosystem.
Like the 2022 5G Challenge, this year’s challenge will focus on testing interfaces among the Open RAN-specified subsystems and end-to-end integration, as well as testing handovers between different vendors. The Challenge seeks to accelerate adoption of 5G open interfaces, interoperable subsystems and multi-vendor solutions by:
- Utilizing existing standards for new providers
- Encouraging modular product development
- Reducing barriers to entry for new solution providers
- Leveraging industry trends
- Demonstrating multi vendor interoperability.
Awards will go to high-performing Open RAN solutions that showcase multi-vendor interoperability across radio, centralized and distributed units.
5G Challenge Host Lab Offers Cutting Edge Capabilities
For the second consecutive year, CableLabs will partner with its subsidiary Kyrio, the first O-RAN Alliance Open Testing and Integration Center (OTIC) in the Americas, to host the 5G Challenge. Our state-of-the-art 5G lab deploys fully virtualized 5G networks and mobile network technology expertise to ensure that testing meets NTIA/ITS’s goals with reliable, secure testing to industry standards.
As the host lab, CableLabs will perform wraparound emulation testing on each contestant subsystem individually and then end-to-end multi-vendor interoperability and performance testing. We’re including state-of-the-art testing systems from both Keysight and VIAVI to support the goals of the 2023 5G Challenge. Contestants will be challenged to integrate with fellow contestants’ subsystems and participate in multiple rounds of integration and performance testing—the primary thrust of this year’s challenge.
CableLabs developed the test plans in conjunction with the NTIA to focus on O-RAN Alliance and 3GPP conformance. Testing will involve multiple gNB configurations, which contain different Open RAN subsystems. The information gathered during the testing process will inform vendors, NTIA-ITS, the Department of Defense and the 5G ecosystem as a whole about the current state of the O-RAN vendor community. Stakeholders will also acquire valuable data about the benefits of interoperability and the potential for future innovations in 5G open systems and wireless networks.
As an added benefit, integration testing will include adherence to applicable O-RAN Alliance specifications. Challenge participants may receive a badge or certification from Kyrio under its OTIC lab authority.
CableLabs Technical Expertise
With our deep technical experience and wireless network expertise, CableLabs is uniquely positioned to provide support staff for the 5G Challenge. CableLabs and Kyrio staff will assist contestant teams to ensure complete and accurate testing and will provide technical analysis of each test to the NTIA-ITS.
We’re looking forward to meeting all the 2023 5G Challenge contestants at our 5G lab as we continue investing in the development of an open 5G ecosystem.
Step Inside the Future: Experience Exhilarating Virtual Worlds with Immersive Technology
How we experience the digital world is about to get a whole lot more exciting. The newest film in the “Near Future” series shows what a day in the life of a family looks like as technology transforms how they work, study and engage with each other. Imagine interacting with virtual people and places that feel real and propel you into new worlds. This is the future that the “Step Inside” film explores—and it’s not that far off.
In the film, a virtual 3D talking rabbit and a lifelike prowling tiger enhance the children’s learning and play through an immersive experience. With holographic and light field technologies, characters come to life with realistic depth and presence so that the family can interact with them.
Light Field Displays
Imagine 3D displays that don’t require special glasses or headsets. This is what the main character, Clara, experiences when she’s in the meeting with her investors and they can exchange glances. With light field technology, multiple people can view the same thing at the same time using displays on walls, tabletops or even entire stage floors.
As Clara is briefed on a developing hurricane, she and her remote team can observe the storm’s pathway simultaneously via a life-size holographic projection. Holographic telepresence technology allows multiple users to experience the same three-dimensional media at the same time and from different angles. Clara also presents remotely to her board members as if they are all in the same room together. With holographic telepresence, it’s easier to build bonds and create deeper connections. These holograms are three-dimensional images formed by the interference of light beams from lasers or other light sources.
Advanced AI Avatars
In the film, Clara’s assistant helps her prepare for her presentation and also sees she’s nervous and provides her with guidance to calm her. AI avatars are digital representations of a human in a virtual setting powered by artificial intelligence. These avatars can take the form of a multitude of personas that are capable of authentic, human-like communication and designed to educate, guide and entertain us.
AR Smart Glasses
Ben and Clara take their avatars on the go with technologically sophisticated glasses that look like the eyewear many of us wear today. The difference? AR smart glasses will bridge our real-world experiences with our digital lives. Instead of head-mounted displays (HMDs), the sleek smart glasses of the future will allow us to interact with digital objects and information overlays directly within our field of vision.
Clara is with her team watching the developing hurricane. Quantum computing is powering the highly detailed storm analytics. In Clara’s case, this technology reroutes the ships, potentially saving lives and the business. With quantum, computers can simulate complex scenarios and optimize advantageous outcomes faster than classical computers.
Each of these innovations is already in development, paving the way for our next-generation experiences. CableLabs is at the forefront of what’s new and next, innovating today for the broadband of tomorrow.
Broadband Innovation Begins With State-of-the-Art Labs
Innovation is unleashed in an environment of collaboration, experimentation and expertise. By guiding early-stage ideas from concept to real-world deployment, the industry and end users benefit. CableLabs has a range of labs designed to strengthen and support collaboration and broadband innovation. Members, vendors and other collaborators can join forces to create a multitude of network architectures and scenarios to explore and test new solutions. With this degree of interaction and cooperation, innovation is amplified.
Research & Development Labs
Our R&D Labs host advanced technologies and expertise including various unique test environments. The labs include everything from AI and machine learning to Wi-Fi, mobile and convergence. They also include hybrid fiber coax, advanced optics, fiber, cloud-native, security, PHY/RF analysis and more. These labs can be interconnected to simulate various network architectures.
Kyrio Test Services
Kyrio, a subsidiary of CableLabs, uses labs to provide testing for the unique requirements of individuals or groups of operators or vendors. These services allow devices and systems to be tested for interoperability, performance, requirements compliance, specification conformance and operator acceptance, encouraging confident new tech adoption.
System & Device Test Environments
These labs are used by Kyrio and can be configured to replicate a wide range of scenarios using large anechoic chambers, 3D printed radio frequency modeling and advanced optics benching. A specific test scenario can be simulated when combined with our other labs.
Next-Generation Technologies Lab
This lab investigates and tests technologies, such as quantum encryption, allowing experimentation with long-term possibilities. In this lab, our team works to develop new quantum networking mechanisms to defend against cyber-attacks and access quantum computers.
Moving technologies through the entire life cycle—from R&D through testing and certification and into the real world—CableLabs’ lab environments support the key phases in network technology development and deployment. As an industry, we’re stronger together. That’s why we collaborate to advance innovation for next-generation technology.
If you’re interested in collaborating to unlock the broadband of tomorrow, check out the “Lab Overview” page on our website. You’ll find a deeper dive into how these labs empower the industry to develop new service offerings, achieve enhanced levels of network efficiency and reduce the risks that come with innovation.