[SR Talks] ③ Interview with a Wi-Fi Standardization Expert at Samsung Research America

Q: Please briefly introduce yourself, Samsung Research America, and the kind of work that goes on there. What projects are you working on?

I am Boon Loong Ng (or just Boon) of Samsung Research America’s Standards and Mobility Innovation (SMI) Team. I lead a small and dedicated team in the SMI team contributing to the next generation Wi-Fi standards in the IEEE 802.11 Working Group, in collaboration with the Samsung mobile business unit (Mobile Experience (MX)).

We collaborate with researchers from various companies and universities, to define new features enhancing the Wi-Fi PHY/MAC capabilities in the IEEE 802.11 standards. The resulting technical specifications produced from the Wi-Fi standardization process have been implemented in millions of consumer devices equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity, including smart phones, laptops, TV, IoT devices and so on.

Besides the Wi-Fi standards team, I am also leading an R&D team working on wireless connectivity and sensing algorithm development, covering Wi-Fi, Ultra-Wideband (UWB) and 5G technologies.

Q: Please tell me about the importance of your research field or technology.

Wi-Fi has long been a driver for the world economy thanks to its ubiquity and affordability. Its social and economic values benefit all walks of life. Its importance is certain to increase further. One study published by the Wi-Fi Alliance in 2021 estimated that the global economic value of Wi-Fi would increase by almost $3 trillion (150% growth) from 2018 to 2025 ($4.9 trillion by 2025).

I think the Wi-Fi technology will evolve in two main ways that will impact our lives in the future. The first way is continuing the evolution trend to enhance the capabilities of devices to interconnect, designed to support the activities that people engage in on a daily basis. For most people, this means increased work productivity, effective learning and high-quality play, at work place, school and home. More technically, this means evolution to support higher data rate, lower latency, effective quality-of-service (QoS) management and smooth roaming/mobility performance. For example, the upcoming Wi-Fi 7 certification program (based on IEEE 802.11be amendment) will increase the maximum data rate to 36 Gbps (more than 3 times higher than Wi-Fi 6). Another example is the support of predictable low latency transmission with lower/bounded jitter with the new Restricted Target Wake Time (R-TWT) feature, which helps to allow smooth user experience with ultra-low latency real-time applications, such as AR/VR immersive meetings/events.

The second way the Wi-Fi technology is evolving to impact our lives comes from the emergence of Wi-Fi sensing and Wi-Fi ranging (positioning) technologies, enabling use cases beyond the conventional wireless communication. With Wi-Fi sensing, a smart home security system can be built with a Wi-Fi system, by detecting a certain RF signature correlated with a home intrusion incident, in the Wi-Fi radio signals received at a smart home hub device, which can then alert the home owner or the law enforcement agency. An intelligent home care system can also be developed by detecting the RF signature correlated with an accidental fall at home. A family member can then be alerted immediately to come to their aid.

A more general and exciting class of applications enabled by Wi-Fi sensing (often jointly with other sensory inputs) is ambient intelligence applications. Ambient intelligence aims to comprehend and serve human’s needs in an unobtrusive manner by processing the signal sources present in the environment (from the Wi-Fi signals in our case). It can have significant impact in areas such as healthcare, security, smart home/building automation, home/building energy saving and so on. For example, it is possible to detect a person’s respiratory rate without physical contact by applying advanced signal processing on the Wi-Fi signals. Advancement of artificial intelligence could further improve the performance and accelerate the commercial viability of the ambient intelligence system.

Q: Can you tell us about the main achievement and rewarding moment in your research, or the episode?

Our current Wi-Fi standard team was formed only in 2021 (just 2 years old at this time). It is extremely rewarding to witness the growth of each team member in becoming an outstanding Wi-Fi standards expert in a relatively short time, owing to their passions and unwavering commitment for excellence. We have frequent technical discussions in the team, and discovering the best technical solutions with the team through brainstorming and debates is always my highlight on any day. For that, I am very grateful for my remarkable team members. The announcement of the Q4 2022 MX CTO award for the team at the end of last year is a fitting testament to the team’s achievement, and is very satisfying to me personally.

Q: What is your vision for the future and what goal would you want to achieve?

Information technology needs to be accessible regardless of one’s background, race, age and social-economic status. Wi-Fi has played an important role in bridging the digital divide in our society as evident by it being the popular wireless connectivity solution of choice to deploy in public venues, libraries, schools, rural areas, and so on. Wi-Fi has the potential to offer much more in enabling ambient intelligence, and the benefits of such technology advancement should be accessible as widely as possible as well. Our team is well positioned to write this exciting next chapter of Wi-Fi evolution.

On a personal level, I hope to play my part in the journey of wireless connectivity evolution for as long as I am able to. My focus now is to maximize our team’s contributions by building good vision, and a conducive environment that supports continuous learning and great team work. I am honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to lead the team on this exciting journey.