The UK & Ireland NI Days Conference that was held at the QEII Conference Centre in London on 3 November 2015 offered over 40 hours of technical content across six tracks covering everything from implementing high performance WLAN semiconductor ATE to Test Cell development. Of particular interest for RF and microwave engineers were the sessions on 5G, which spanned concepts of 5G prototyping through to putting 5G research into action, and the Internet of Things (IoT) that covered a wide range including Industrial IoT (IIoT) and the development of a smart production line, alongside a lively Industry Experts Panel discussion.
Attendees were able to take a ‘vertical’ look at 5G, ranging from practical hands on experience, through prototyping to working towards deployment with industry experts proffering their vision for 5G as they examined new physical layer designs, Massive MIMO systems, advances in millimetre wave communications etc.
For the practically minded NI’s Ben Lavasani offered a hands-on introduction to Software Defined Radio (SDN) where engineers could gain hands-on experience of using LabVIEW Communications and USRP RIO to design, simulate and prototype an LTE-based realtime communications link on a high-performance FPGA.
In a later technical session Lavasani outlined new application frameworks that provide fully-customisable real-time physical layer implementations of 802.11 and LTE for prototyping algorithms. His NI colleague, Jeremy Twaits continued the Software Defined Radio thread by addressing prototyping with SDN for industrial, academic and defence applications.
Offering an academic, technological and possible implementation perspective Mark Beach, Professor of Radio Systems Engineering at the University of Bristol shared the university’s cutting edge research into candidate technologies that could be critical to modern communications systems. In particular he highlighted the development of Massive MIMO and In-band Full Duplex – specifically outlining the theory and the Bristol Single Antenna/EBI solution. He explained the implementation of In-band Full Duplex and test bed results.
He also explained, Bristol Is Open – a joint venture between the University of Bristol and Bristol City Council that aims to deliver research and development initiatives that contribute to the development of a smart city and the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things
IoT was a major theme of both the Morning Keynote titled, Using a platform-based approach to create the Internet of Things and the Afternoon Keynote, where Ni’s Richard Roberts explained how the company is helping to create a climate of innovation where tomorrow’s engineers will realise the true potential of IoT. He was followed by Danielle George of the University of Manchester, who shared her passion about raising public awareness, particularly amongst the young; of the positive impact engineering has on everyday lives. The theme was continued through various industry sessions and an industry expert panel.
Taking a few highlights, NI’s Erik Van Hitlen offered an insight into technologies to enable the Industrial Internet of Things, specifically NI’s embedded control and monitoring applications with the opportunity to see the new technology in action and consider how it can enable future applications. His colleague, Matthew Surridge outlined why a platform based approach is ideal for IIoT, while Martin Griffiths of Metis Automation took attendees through the process he has implemented to develop truly Smart Production Lines.
Griffiths was also a participant in the Industry Expert’s Panel Discussion on How will Sensors, Software and systems Define the Industrial Internet of Things, where he was joined by NI’s Raman Jamal, Iain MacLachlan or Eurotech and Ross McKay of IBM. Chaired by Dickon Ross, Editor-in-Chief of the IET’s Engineering & Technology magazine the panel offered a lively debate on all aspects of IIoT from data acquisition and security to the plethora of possible applications.
A complementary exhibition showcased the latest advancements in design, control and test, where NI experts and industry partners demonstrated products, services and solutions for test, measurement and control systems. There was also a Meet the Engineer Booth where a combination of experienced, certified alliance members and knowledgeable NI technical support staff were available to offer advice. There was also over 13 hours of hands-on training available offering the opportunity to gain hands on experience with a wide range of NI technologies, including CompactDAQ, CompactRIO and PXI.