Microwave Journal
2020 Predictions

2020 Industry Predictions from Swami Hindle, MathWorks, Ericsson and Keysight

December 11, 2019

Swami Hindle (aka Microwave Journal editor Pat Hindle) makes 10 industry predictions for 2020. For a look at how I did this past year, here are my predictions from 2019.

In 2019, we saw the first full year of 5G as more than 50 commercial networks were launched around the world. A few 5G phones were released but they were very limited due to coverage in  only selected cities (and only certain areas within those cities). Drone technology continued to evolve along with advances in phased arrays as mmWave applications have expanded with SATCOM and 5G fueling their demand.

As we look to 2020, 5G and IoT to continue to expand with AI and blockchain coming into play to make them more useful and secure. Quantum computing and photonic technologies should also continue to advance and find new applications to address. On the defense front, phased array and GaN technology will advance radar, communications and EW capabilities while autonomous and drone systems will develop into new offensive and surveillance weapons while becoming a major security threat too. Swami Hindle was correct in his prediction that 6G research would start in 2019 as several universities and companies announced activities in this area.

Here we have predictions from Swami Hindle and MathWorks plus, 10 hot consumer trends for 2030 from Ericsson ConsumerLab.


Ten 2020 Predictions from Swami Hindle

  1. AR and VR will find more traction in Industrial applications than consumer applications using 5G technology as IIoT rapidly expands
  2. AI and Blockchain will be tightly integrated into 5G and IoT applications securing devices and discovering data trends that result in increased efficiencies that would otherwise be overlooked
  3. The first autonomous taxis/Ubers will hit the road
  4. Swarming and micro drones will become the biggest threat to homeland security
  5. Commercial satellite network companies will fail or merge with only 1 or 2 left standing by year end
  6. Quantum computing will be used for the first time in a commercial application for stock trading and be banned from NYSE
  7. New semiconductor materials like carbon nano tubes or graphene plus 3D stacking will keep Moore’s Law going. GaN and RF SOI will dominate the high frequency market as GaAs and SiGe take a backseat.
  8. Aerospace and Defense vehicles will achieve force multipliers with autonomous companion vehicles (aircraft, tanks, etc.)
  9. Most major test/measurement and simulation companies will provide cloud-based solutions for their main platforms
  10. 6G research will demonstrate successful communications demos using terahertz frequencies (140 GHz seems the most likely)

See the next page for MathWorks 2020 predictions

MathWorks 5G Trends and Predictions for 2020
Ken Karnofsky, Senior Strategist, MathWorks

Deep Learning in Communications Remains in a Nascent Stage
In 2020, there will be increased interest surrounding the integration of deep learning into communications systems. Yet despite a heightened desire from the wireless industry to apply deep learning or AI, this will remain in the exploratory and research phase for the time being.

Over time, there will be a few areas where deep learning can be applied, including:

  • Recognizing signals in locations or spectrum bands where there is a high saturation of other signals, such as urban areas or with military applications.
  • Building adaptive algorithms that can respond to changes in the environment, such as digital predistortion to linearize the power amplifier in a mobile phone efficiently based on channel conditions
  • Enabling communications networks to provide better service given fluctuating network traffic and peak loads.

Advanced Connectivity Is Being Developed in Parallel with 5G
WiFi will continue to evolve as we can soon expect to see more advanced versions of higher network capacity and greater download speeds. WiFi 6 is being deployed around the same time as 5G – providing options for achieving higher bandwidth in large commercial areas, such as factories and sports stadiums. 

Bluetooth is fairly ubiquitous among consumer devices, but 2020 will lead to Bluetooth-enabled devices that use location tracking information for indoor local positioning applications. This will allow robots or machines with Bluetooth capabilities to be tracked on a factory floor, for example, and easily be able to transfer data or control information.

IoT connectivity, whether using cellular, Bluetooth, or WiFi will demand greater levels of power management. For example, narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) solutions will be transferring data over long distances and low data rates from potentially remote locations – all while needing to be done in low power mode.

Expect a Greater Need for End-to-End Technology Integration
Currently, the entire signal chain, from RF to baseband, can be implemented in a single programmable device or module. However, most engineering teams do not possess the incumbent expertise to design these devices and integrate them into a complete system.

This is a major challenge for R&D teams as they work to prototype and validate new 5G design concepts. To mitigate these challenges, companies will need to increasingly equip their wireless engineering teams with software tools that connect algorithm design, system simulation, beamforming architectures and system partitioning, over-the-air (OTA) testing, prototyping and implementation – saving development and verification time as a result.

Software tools that enable an integrated engineering team and linked workflow will be necessary as design teams tackle advanced 5G networks and clear hurdles such as standards compliance and technical complexities driven by multi-antenna systems and highly coupled digital and RF front ends.

See the next page for Ericsson 2030 predictions

Ericsson ConsumerLab: Ten Hot Consumer Trends 2030 – The Internet of Senses

According to Ericsson, consumers expect an array of beneficial services from connected technology interacting with our senses of sight, sound, taste, smell and touch to be a common reality by 2030.  The consumer predictions about the Internet of Senses are among the expectations highlighted in the ninth edition of the Ericsson ConsumerLab Hot Consumer Trends report.

The Internet of Senses will be enabled by technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), 5G and automation. Consumers predict that by 2030 screen-based experiences will increasingly compete with multisensory ones that will be almost inseparable from reality.

The report represents the expectations and predictions of 46 million early technology adopters. The main drivers for the Internet of Senses include immersive entertainment and online shopping, the climate crisis and the corresponding need to minimize climate impact.

The 10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2030 – Internet of Senses:

1. Your brain is the user interface:
Fifty-nine percent of consumers believe that we will be able to see map routes on Virtual Reality glasses by simply thinking of a destination.

2. Sounds like me:
Using a microphone, 67 percent believe they will be able to take on anyone’s voice realistically to fool even family members.

3. Any flavor you want:
Forty-five percent predict a device for your mouth that digitally enhances anything you eat, so that any food can taste like your favorite treat.

4. Digital aroma:
Around 6 in 10 expect to be able to digitally visit forests or the countryside, including experiencing all the natural smells of those places.

5. Total touch:
More than 6 in 10 expect smartphones with screens that convey the shape and texture of the digital icons and buttons they are pressing.

6. Merged reality:
Virtual Reality game worlds are predicted by 7 in 10 to be indistinguishable from physical reality by 2030.

7. Verified as real:
“Fake News” could be finished: half of respondents say news reporting services that feature extensive fact checks will be popular by 2030.

8. Post-privacy consumers:
Half of respondents are “post-privacy consumers”: they expect privacy issues to be fully resolved so they can safely reap the benefits of a data-driven world.

9. Connected sustainability:
Internet of senses-based services will make society more environmentally sustainable, according to 6 in 10.

10. Sensational services:
Forty-five percent of consumers anticipate digital malls allowing them to use all five senses when shopping.

The report insights are based on Ericsson ConsumerLab’s global research activities spanning more than 24 years. It primarily draws on data from an online survey conducted during October 2019 of advanced internet users in 15 cities around the world. They are Bangkok, Delhi, Jakarta, Johannesburg, London, Mexico City, Moscow, New York, San Francisco, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore, Stockholm, Sydney and Tokyo.

Let us know your 2020 predictions below in the comments

Keysight 2020 Predictions

New realms of measurement will grow in importance in 2020: Measurement based tools of many kinds are key enablers for the technology-based products and solutions we incorporate into our daily lives, and it will transform as disruptive technologies come into play.

  • In 2020, advanced applications related to 5G, will explode, using higher frequencies and smaller geometries. To support this growth:
    • New classes and labs for design and simulation, over the air testing, antenna systems and measurements will be incorporated into the core engineering curriculum.
    • New measurement science (hardware, software and calibration) will be developed and made part of mainstream offerings.
    • Developers of new electronic products and solutions will use different tools, specifications and terminology to specify and validate their designs.
  • In 2020, the use of software in implementing technology will remain prevalent, especially in networking and position or navigation-based smartphone applications. As a result, software-on-software measurement will see a strong surge and therefore, so will emphasis on interoperability among software tool chains.  New standards and certifications will be created, impacting development processes, as well as the marketing required to ensure consumers are aware of what a software-centric product can and cannot do.   
  • In 2020 there will be a substantial rise in specialized processors, such as GPUs and chips, that implement Artificial Intelligence or AI architectures which determine how a network processes and routes information and maintains security, privacy, and integrity. Quantum computing and engineering will continue to be in an aggressive hype phase in 2020, but the ability to control, measure, and error-correct quantum systems as the number of qubits grows will be important from the start. 
  • As measurement and operation of the computer blends, those interested in building practical quantum computers will require knowledge about measurement technologies and techniques before the quantum computing goes into the mainstream.

Data silos will be connected to extract development insights: Leading companies collect data but typically store it in functional silos: R&D design, pre-production validation, manufacturing, operations and services.

  • In 2020, companies will start connecting these silos of data using modern cloud architectures, such as private on-premises clusters, or public sites like AWS or Azure. With the data centrally available, teams will correlate performance through the development process, from early design to manufacturing to field deployment and close the loop back to design. The benefits for these teams include the rapid collection and reformatting of data, faster debugging of new product design, anticipation of manufacturing issues, and improved product quality.
  • To achieve these gains, teams will invest in a computing infrastructure, determine how to store the data, including file location and data structure, as well as choose analytic tools to select and process data to identify anomalies and trends. In addition, teams will change the way they work to shift attention to data-driven decisions.

5G and the Data CenterNew 5G capabilities in 2020 will put pressure on networks, revealing new data center and network chokepoints. 

  • Industrial IoT applications will increase access requests and mobile automotive IoT applications will stretch latency demands.  Edge computing will become more important to process the increased access requests and meet stringent latency requirements. 
  • Higher data speeds will place more demands for faster memory, faster data busses, and faster transceivers in the data center. Meeting the speed and flexibility demands will be one reason, but customer traceability through the network for application monetization will be the main driver to upgrade to the latest standards.
  • In 2020 we will see advanced design, test and monitoring capabilities that ensure networks and products deliver the performance and failsafe reliability expected. The industry will experience closer collaborations between chipset and product manufacturers, software companies, network carriers, cloud hosting companies and international standards organizations to build tomorrow’s networking infrastructures. 

Challenges will Abound to get 5G to Maturity: 5G represents technical evolution and revolution on many fronts creating new technical challenges that span many domains.

  • In 2020 the industry will move from a small group of early-movers who have commercialized initial 5G networks, to a global community in which multiple operators in every continent and in many countries will have commercial 5G networks.
  • The early adopters will add scale and those who launch in 2020 will quickly resolve issues in their initial deployments. Second-generation devices and base stations will be added to the market, and the standards will have another new release in 3GPP’s Rel-16.
  • Key technical challenges for the industry in 2020 will be: ensuring performance in mid-band (3.5-5GHz) frequencies, moving mmWave to mobility, transition planning to a full Stand-Alone (SA) 5G network, and resolving architectural decomposition and standards for centralized RAN and Mobile-Edge computing (MEC). 

The “Internet of Things” will become the “Interaction of Things”: IoT will rapidly move into the mainstream with widening commercial acceptance, increasing public-sector applications and accelerated industrial deployments

  • In 2020 we will see an increased level of “smart” experiences when the “Internet of Things” – a collection of devices connected to the internet – becomes the “Interaction of Things” – a collection of things that are communicating and working effectively and efficiently with each other.
  • There will be powerful devices working with other powerful devices to act quickly and efficiently in the background independent of direct human intervention. Mission-critical applications, such as remote robotic surgery in the area of digital healthcare or autonomous driving in the area of smart mobility, will feel the impact of this shift. 
  • While these applications will benefit from the “Interaction of Things”, new solutions will be developed to ensure they do not suffer from the “Interference of Things”, especially when communication failure and network disturbances can bring about devastating or life-threatening consequences. The same will be true of Industry 4.0 applications and smart city applications.  Uptime will not be optional. 

Digital twins will move to the mainstream: Digital twins, or the concept of complete replicate simulation, are the nirvana of design engineers. 

  • In 2020, we will see digital twins mature and move to the mainstream as a result of their ability to accelerate innovations. To fully realize the technology’s benefits, companies will look for advanced design and test solutions that can seamlessly validate and optimize their virtual models and real-world siblings to ensure that their behaviors are identical.   

2020 will not be the year of the autonomous vehicle. Active cruise control, yes.  Full autonomy, we have a couple years to goThe quantity and sophistication of sensors deployed in vehicles will increase in 2020, but fully autonomous vehicles will require more ubiquitous 5G connectivity and more artificial intelligence. Here is where we see the industry on each of those areas:

  • The ratio of fleets sales with EV or HEV powertrain will grow from single-digit percentage ratio to double-digits in 2020 tripling the shipped units compared to last year.
  • The first C-V2X network will hit the streets in China, but they will be operating on an LTE-V network until 5G Release 16 evolves the standard.
  • The technical advances for sensors and in-car networks will continue to evolve on a fast pace, needing faster in-vehicle networks. In 2020, Gigabit Ethernet based in-car networks become a reality and significantly improved sensor technology enables artificial intelligence developers to hit new performance levels.

System level design, test and monitoring will experience a dramatic transformationThe connected world will force a shift in how performance, reliability, and integrity are evaluated.

  • In 2020, realizing the full potential of sensor systems connected to communication systems connected to mechanical systems will require new ways to test at the system level. 
  • Today, there are available tests for radar antennas and a radar transceiver module.  However, testing a multi-antenna radar system integrated into a car will require a different testing approach.  The same is true for data centers, mission critical IoT networks, automobiles, and a wide range of new, complex, 5G-enabled applications.
  • In 2020, the electronics industry will emphasize system-level testing as the definitive, final step to assure end-to-end performance, integrity and reliability across the increasingly connected world.

Education will shift to prepare the next generation of engineers. Universities will adopt holistic, integrated, and multi-disciplinary curricula for engineering education.

  • Academia will tap into industry partnerships to keep up with the accelerating pace of technology and incorporate certification programs, industry-grade instrumentation and automation systems into teaching labs to train students on current, real-world applications.
  • To address IoT, Universities will combine methodology from basic electronics, networking, design engineering, cybersecurity, and embedded systems, while increasing emphasis on the impact of technology on society and the environment.
  • To address artificial intelligence, automation and robotics, Universities will mainstream currently niche topics such as cognitive science and mechatronics into required learning.