Ericsson, UT Austin partner to drive 6G-powered XR innovation


XR technology is expected to drive a paradigm shift for how users interact between the cyber and physical worlds as the first large-scale 6G deployments occur around 2030, becoming a major facilitator of both completely virtual metaverses and the embedment of a virtual layer within the physical sphere.

The research project is headed by a cross-discipline team of three world-leading UT Austin professors in collaboration with Ericsson’s own researchers in the area.

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Ericsson joined UT’s 6G@UT research center as a Level-1 member earlier in 2022. Today, it is upgrading its contribution to Level-IV membership, including a new three-year collaboration focusing on XR streaming, sensing and communication designs.

XR is seen to have significant potential to enable a range of highly innovative use-cases during the 6G 2030 timeframe, particularly those that use input from environmental awareness and can be carried out in outdoor scenarios, strengthening the need for consistently low latency and precise spatial mapping.

Eric Wang, Project Research Leader, Ericsson, says: “XR is already here but has a huge potential to go even further with the eventual arrival of 6G. Ericsson wants to ensure users have the best XR experience even as the number of connected devices and demands of the applications increase. This project addresses that paradigm shift, putting latency front and center so it keeps up with changing demands, as data-intensive uses like holographic communication become more common.”

The research focuses on the challenge of ensuring bounded latency while simultaneously maximizing spectral efficiency and capacity both indoors and outdoors as well as achieving perceptually optimized streaming to XR devices.

Prof. Jeff Andrews, Director, 6G@UT, describes one vision of how seamless 6G-powered XR could look in action-

“Imagine two different people in two different geographic locations, both seamlessly walking together through a virtual third location, exploring it without any disruption,” he says. “That’s the vision.”

The research seeks to develop solutions that can be harnessed to scale up XR use cases in the 6G generation. The cross-discipline research team includes leading experts in applications (media encoding and streaming), sensing and communication.

Prof. Andrews adds: “We are excited to collaborate with top minds at Ericsson on research that will help make high-quality untethered XR a reality. Ubiquitous XR introduces extremely challenging technical problems, simultaneously pushing the limits of immersive visual media, user localization and tracking, and high fidelity wireless communication. We hope to contribute some new ideas and fundamental principles to this exciting technology direction.”

Magnus Frodigh, Head of Research, Ericsson, says: “This is a big investment from Ericsson in what we believe will be a future paradigm shift, with innovators we believe can help us lead this change. We are always eager to collaborate with the very best researchers. Jeff Andrews, Alan Bovik and Todd Humphreys are world-leading professors in their areas, and we consider the UT team to be at the forefront, perfectly positioned to place focus on the most relevant research.”