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Skirting the Big Data Problem With New Technologies

21 Mar 2017 by Lana Gates

This article originally appeared in Volume 2, Issue 1 of <theScript> Quarterly digital magazine.

It’s no secret that evolving technologies have led to exponential data growth, which has made storing and analyzing data challenging. So much so that the market for big data-related products and services — including business intelligence, data warehousing, and cloud storage and services — reached $46 billion in 2016, according to Computerworld.

A couple of new technologies in totally separate industries are tackling the big data problem head-on, but not in the way you might think. One does so by segmenting wireless cells into smaller fields to combat the abundance of mobile data growth, and the other uses light fields that require much less data than their counterparts.

Both are exciting innovations for consumers and businesses alike. The cell technology will propel our telecommunications even further in reliability, and the light technology makes holograms less science fiction and more of a reality. Keep reading for a breakdown of how these apply to you.

pCell technology to the rescue

A company called Artemis Networks has pioneered a new way to improve cellphone reception and performance — without adding to the already crowded wireless spectrum.

Just what is wireless spectrum, you ask? Simply put, it refers to the radio waves used by wireless devices and TV and radio broadcasts. As TV stations have expanded and become digital, and wireless technologies have been added to the mix, they’ve bogged down these superhighways, if you will, resulting in latency issues.

In order for all of these channels to work, they each have their own spectrum, or frequency. Otherwise, they’d cause interference with each other. The Federal Communications Commission oversees spectrum and acknowledged a spectrum shortage as early as 2012, according to CNET.

The problem hasn’t gotten any better yet, but Artemis aims to fix that with what it calls pCell technology.

pCells in layman’s terms

This technology purposely causes interference within wireless cells to create smaller cells, the goal being one pCell per device. This way, rather than wireless performance becoming sluggish when multiple phones are in use within a single network, such as at a sporting event, performance stays consistently high for all devices.

The technology is still in its early stages but offers much promise — and potential. Businesses, particularly those with mobile workers, will benefit from consistently reliable mobile access to their networks.

Light fields and holographic images

Similarly, a San Francisco startup is addressing the big data problem by capitalizing on the use of light fields to create holographic images. The company is on the cusp of completely transforming video creation — just in time for the rise of virtual reality and augmented reality.

The idea behind this technology is using four-dimensional light fields to capture all of the light of a particular scene instead of recording a flat, two-dimensional picture incapable of capturing all of that light. This modern approach allows for realistic, three-dimensional viewing from any angle — essentially creating 3–D holographic images.

Light fields defined

A light field refers to the number of light rays in any given area. Currently, capturing a light field requires a camera array of different angles of the same scene or the use of a micro lens in front of camera optics to record information about intensity, color and direction. Both of these options require keeping each light ray within a specific light field separate and, thus, produce large amounts of data.

An alternative option is the use of macro light fields, the ones that create holographic images. These use less data and are more cost-effective. And they’re much more compressible than 2–D images.

The applications for this type of technology are mind-boggling. The first adopters will likely be virtual reality and augmented reality gaming to make the experience that much more immersive. But other adopters likely won’t be far behind.

And who knows? Maybe in a few years, we’ll be talking to each other holographically using our smartphones.

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