Making the Impossible, Possible - In the Palm of Your Hand

Next Generation Communications Blog

Making the Impossible, Possible - In the Palm of Your Hand

By Susan Campbell

Is it possible to change the impossible? This was a question asked in a recent Alcatel-Lucent blog as Tod Sizer, Head of wireless research, Bell Labs examined the potential in challenging the impossible.

In his writing, Sizer examined how scientists will take an idea and challenge their scientific minds to find a way to make the theory a reality. It starts with clearing the mind and imaging the end result. When a team of people are then challenged with trying to reach that end result and they get halfway to the goal, major gains have been accomplished.

Sizer set out to address the challenge of envisioning new uses of multiple antennas. He envisioned a modular radio and antenna that could easily be arranged freely, like Lego blocks. This required compression all radio hardware and the antenna into a cube with a 60mm x 60mm dimension. If this size could be achieved, the cube itself could be used as a small cell – so small it could become invisible.

If eight of these cells were stacked together, you would discover a different functionality, one that could point a beam in a particular direction to provide coverage indoors. You could also stack the cells 2x10 high to create a macro cellular for an outdoor antenna. There are still even other arrangements of antennas that have yet to be conceptualized.

To make this dream a reality, Sizer went to his woodshop and created a wood version of the envisioned cube, gluing on an aluminum plate as a fake antenna. The challenge was then put on the table physically as the little wooden block provided the team with the physical representation so they could see it, touch it, stack it.

This physical interaction allowed the team to understand the challenge and the opportunity – and they said it was impossible. To overcome the “impossible”, Alcatel-Lucent’s BellLabs' teams in Germany and Ireland stepped up to the challenge and three months later – and many new innovations – developed what is now known as the lightRadio cube. It is the official launch of the “impossible” made possible.

The resulting lightRadio cube is not just one innovation, it is a suite of innovations that integrates wireless and wireline networks in a way that will solve mobile operator connectivity and capacity challenges in the future. It provides the architecture for the long term that includes advanced CPRI compression, network MIMO.CoMP, fully connected telco quality cloud capabilities and baseband SOC algorithms.

The innovation of the lightRadio cube is a demonstration of what can happen when inquisitive minds want to challenge the impossible.


Featured Events