Patent published on October 26, 2023

Ericsson's Patent Might Turn Phones into Pocket-Sized Radars

At the heart of this new patent issued to Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (publ), patent number US20230341510A1, is a possibility that could redefine human interaction with their communication devices. The invention looks to solve the conundrum posed by the limited radar capabilities of today's devices. Long-range and high-resolution radar features are currently unimaginable without significantly impacting the cost and size of a device. The proposal for separate, dedicated radar chips in devices or mounting radar systems pose practical difficulties and financial burdens.

The issue, as it stands now, stymies the potential benefits we could draw from having radar-enabled devices. We are headed into a future where our devices are not just for 'communicating' but 'sensing'; imagine detecting objects near your device and recognizing gestures, all with your smartphone. But the dream is hindered by the mundane concerns of device cost and size.

Ericsson's patent suggests a novel solution to this problem. The patent deploys radar functions within the regular operations of a device, switching seamlessly between radar and communication modes. By reducing the need for separate radar chips and integrating this capability in the device's communication operations, the cost and size problem may be effectively addressed.

With the implementation of this patented radar functionality, our technological future is charged with countless possibilities. As an example, take the autonomous vehicles in an industrial setting. It can currently communicate and navigate using pre-set paths. Now, equip it with a User Equipment (UE) based on Ericsson’s patented technology, which then enables the vehicle to communicate with you and detect obstacles on its own. Paired with special radar reflectors put in to enhance the device's sensing capabilities, this application allows for better navigation. Whether it is fine-tuning their position or extending the sensing range, integrating a radar function within the device has its added advantages.

Reminiscing the invention, it's resembling an evolution similar to the insertion of cameras into phones which was a revolution in its time. Just like how the 'camera phone' transformed photography, bringing otherwise professional skills to everyday users, the radar functionality may soon reshape the way we interact with, understand, and navigate our environment.

The patent brings with it a glimmer of hope for a technology that has been held back, for some time, by cost and hardware limitations. As exciting as these prospects might be, we should pause for a risk assessment – patents are not products, and there is uncertainty regarding when or how they might transition into the market. Yet, with its promise of a more perceptive, interactive tomorrow, Ericsson's new patent is a definite corner-turn in the tech world.

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