CES 2012: Ericsson's Vestberg: Networked Society Not Far Away


LAS VEGAS - A networked society in which everyone and everything will be connected in real time will transform industries and societies, and it's not far away, Ericsson president/CEO Hans Vestberg said yesterday during a keynote speech.

"Anything that benefits from being connected will be connected in the future," said the head of the company that built 40 percent of the world's deployed mobile infrastructure.

Already, he said, 85 percent of the world's population is covered by mobile wireless networks, and that will rise to more than 90 percent by 2015.

In the connected society, cars will be equipped with wireless 4G LTE chips that alert nearby cars in real time to potential hazards, thanks to LTE's 5x greater latency over 3G, Vestberg said. Ericsson will outfit more than 400 cargo ships operated by Maesrk Lines, the world's largest shipping company, with 4G LTE to monitor all their vessels around the world in real time and reduce fuel consumption.

Wireless networking has already transformed Formula One racing, whose vehicles are outfitted with sensors that transmit vehicle data in real time to computers to give drivers an edge, said MIT professor Carlo Ratti, who briefly joined Vestberg on stage. "Our environment is starting to behave like real-time control systems," thanks to wireless networking and sensor technology, he said.

Wireless networking has already transformed the ability of nongovernment aid organizations in Africa to help refugees find lost family members more quickly, said Christopher Mikkelsen, co-founder of Refugees United. Mikkelsen joined Vestberg on stage to outline how Ericsson brings mobile base stations to refugee camps to provide cellular service.

Eventually, people themselves will become physical links in the networked society, Vestberg said, pointing to new capacitive coupling technology being demonstrated at Ericsson's booth. Using that technology, people could exchange electronic business cards from smartphone to smartphone just by shaking hands. People would also be able to display a smartphone-stored picture on a TV screen simply by holding the phone in one hand and touching the TV. And people could collect information about an object just by touching it, he added.

When one person connects to the network, that person's life changes, Vestberg said. But "with everything connected, the world changes."


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