Ericsson's Connected Paper could tap 5G for 'capacitive coupling' tech

One technology that could take advantage of future 5G networks is Ericsson's (NASDAQ: ERIC) Connected Paper, which transfers electrical signals through the human body to glean information from physical objects.

Using "capacitive coupling" technology, a prototype of Connected Paper lets the user touch a piece of paper, like a business card or product label, and relevant information will be displayed on a smartphone. It's not the same as near-field communications (NFC), which requires the smartphone to tap an object. It's more like the body becomes a power line network between the paper and the phone, reports CNET.

Ericsson first demonstrated the technology at its booth during the 2014 International CES and later at Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. More recently, CNET witnessed the technology in action.

Ericsson says the Connected Paper technology can enable shoppers to learn more about a given product, like the printed label on a can of soup, which could contain information about the origin of the ingredients, the place and method of its production, or anything the manufacturer wants to include. The information could be obtained by touching the label and seeing it displayed on a smartphone.

The thinking is that 5G networks will have sufficient bandwidth to handle thousands of simultaneous download requests for information without significant loss in latency. The technology currently is capable of data transfers of up to 10 Mbps.

As CNET notes, the receiver for the technology is still bulky, so work will continue to shrink it down enough to fit into a smartphone.

5G will be on Ericsson's agenda once again for MWC when it takes place March 2-5. Ericsson has been a project leader and technical coordinator in the European Union's Mobile and wireless communications Enablers for the Twenty-twenty Information Society (METIS). The main objective of the project is to create the foundation for 5G.

While the company's participation in METIS will conclude this spring, Sara Mazur, head of Ericsson Research, says new research collaborations will start around the world, continuing where METIS leaves off. Looking ahead, new spectrum allocations are expected to be discussed and decided at the ITU's World Radio Congress in November for meeting wireless traffic growth.  

For more:
- see this CNET article

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