Smartphones are no longer the only portable devices changing the lives and daily routines of today’s digitally connected consumers. Smart glasses, watches, headsets, cameras, bands, trackers, monitors, and scanners are all examples of hands-free and inherently mobile wearable devices that enable emerging consumer and industrial applications.
Similarly, to customers who are ready to embrace the life-changing experiences with new devices, companies and industries are also employing smart helpers, and intelligent assistant systems to improve the efficiency of their automated processes and the productivity and safety of their workers.
Not limited to the increased usage of smart helpers, the industrial digital transformation relies heavily on the deployment of communication infrastructures that utilize efficient cellular technologies to meet the dissimilar performance requirements of industrial applications.
Motivated by these intelligent assistant systems and communication technologies, Saafi discusses a novel category of industrial wearable applications with mid-end requirements that fall in-between the two extremes of high-end and low-end Fifth-Generation (5G) service classes.
A set of simulation models is further developed in Saafi’s thesis to assess the applicability of the Reduced-Capability New Radio (NR RedCap) technology to the newly introduced industrial mid-end wearable applications. The obtained applicability assessment results show that the RedCap configuration recommended by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) for wearable devices can satisfy the expected requirements with different traffic configurations and system loads.
However, the RedCap wearable device configuration may not be suitable for safety-related applications with more stringent latency requirements, especially in the Uplink (UL). An efficient way to satisfy the requirements of the novel industrial mid-end wearable applications in scenarios with more users and challenging industrial setups is to introduce additional network enhancements at both access and backhaul levels.
Study results show a need for additional network enhancements
Saafi’s dissertation shows that employing direct Device-to-Device (D2D) communications between the RedCap wearable devices can offer a viable alternative to network infrastructure densification in cellular-enabled smart factories. In addition, RedCap wearables can attain a gain of up to 50% in the UL packet delivery ratio by utilizing D2D relaying with the appropriately adjusted sidelink configurations.
Among the solutions introduced by 3GPP for UL performance enhancement, RedCap wearable devices can employ Supplementary UL (SUL) without compromising the recommendations for complexity reduction. In addition to useful improvements in the block error rate and detection probability, a gain of 8.33 dB in the UL coverage can be reached by RedCap wearable devices when employing the SUL.
This dissertation also focuses on cellular-enabled maritime networks, which provide an illustrative example of complex and integrated industrial setups, where RedCap wearables can be employed among a multitude of industrial intelligent assistant systems. The backhaul selection is identified as a key issue in integrated terrestrial and non-terrestrial maritime networks with different cost considerations and time-sensitive application requirements.
This study shows that the desired trade-off between the data transmission expenses and the timely throughput guarantees can be achieved with a Markov decision process-based solution for backhaul selection. The study also advocates for the use machine learning techniques to build efficient frameworks for intelligent and sustainable industrial networking.
M.Sc. Salwa Saafi conducted her doctoral research during 2019–2022 in a joint/double doctoral degree programme at Brno University of Technology, Czech Republic and Tampere University, Finland. It was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 813278, A-WEAR.
Public defense on 17 May 2023
The doctoral dissertation of M.Sc. Salwa Saafi in the field of telecommunications titled Access and Backhaul Solutions for Cellular-Enabled Industrial Wearables will be publicly examined at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Communication, Brno University of Technology, Technická 12, 616 00, Brno, Czech Republic at 15.00 (CET) on Wednesday 17.05.2023. The Opponent will be Prof. Frank H. P. Fitzek, Dresden University of Technology, Germany. The Custos will be Prof. Jaroslav Koton, Brno University of Technology, Czech Republic.
Photo: Elham Younesian