Recap: WNCG Hosts 16th Annual Texas Wireless Summit

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December 19, 2018

The Engineering Education and Research Center at The University of Texas was abuzz with over 200 participants gathered for Texas Wireless Summit (TWS) on November 6. This year’s theme was “AI and the Mobile Device.”

Held annually by WNCG, TWS brings together leading figures in industry, academia, and government to discuss the latest developments in information systems technology. “AI and the Mobile Device” marked the 16th summit hosted by the group.

“Every year we try to think about a theme that captures what’s most exciting in technology,” Prof. Constantine Caramanis said in an interview with RCR Wireless News. Caramanis was one of the faculty co-organizers for TWS.“What’s going to affect the technology coming down the road 5, 10 years, maybe further down the road than that? And what’s going to impact our lives? How are our lives going to be different?”

This sentiment is reflected in the variety of cutting-edge topics covered by TWS in years past. A few examples of recent summit themes include: “Reshaping Wireless through Automated Vehicles” (2016), “The View to 5G” (2015), and “Internet of Things and the Tera Era” (2014). Last year’s Texas Wireless Summit was a special event, celebrating 15 years of WNCG. High-profile alumni spoke on diverse topics such as visual processing and navigation, machine learning, and startups/entrepreneurship.

2018’s “AI and the Mobile Device” explored an important intersection of technologies. Wireless devices like smartphones and tablets have become ubiquitous in our everyday lives. At the same time, interest in improving technology through the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques is also growing at a rapid pace. Troubleshooting the difficulties in combining the two can improve our experience of both.

According to Prof. Sujay Sanghavi, who co-organized the event with Caramanis, the increased call for AI in our everyday lives led to the central questions behind the summit’s theme: “On the one hand, how do we rethink wireless to support AI? Both on the mobile device itself, but also more generally in the mobile ecosystem. And on the other hand, how do we change AI—which for the most part nowadays runs on the cloud … for the wireless world and for the embedded world?”

Over a dozen eminent industry and academe leaders spoke at sessions that tackled these questions over the course of the one-day summit.

The event featured thought-provoking keynotes from Dr. Rajiv Laroia, Co-Founder and CTO of Light, and Dr. Thad Starner, Tech Lead for Google Glass. In-depth technical talks offered nuanced perspectives of the intricacies and issues presented by today’s wireless/AI research. Panel discussions delved into the questions “Can ML/AI Help Build Wireless Systems?” and “Edge vs. Cloud: Where should AI Be Done?”

Speakers and panelists hailed from technological leaders like Intel, Google, Samsung, and Qualcomm, among others, as well as influential research institutions like Columbia and Virginia Tech.

A full list of this year’s speakers and talk titles, along with presenters’ slides, can be found on the Texas Wireless Summit website.

“Artificial Intelligence is going to be in every part of our lives,” Sanghavi stated. “For most of us the primary way it’s going to come in is initially via the mobile device, but also more generally looking a bit more forward, [with the rise of] IoT devices, there’s going to be AI embedded in all these things.”

IoT, or “Internet of Things,” refers to items we would normally think of as everyday objects being reconceived to function as devices connected to the internet. Specifically, these objects are made to communicate to other devices and systems on the network. Just one example would be the plethora of “smart home” appliances on the market today: they range from networked thermostat and lighting controls to smart coffee machines and refrigerators, which all allow the users to track and change various settings or output via the web—usually through a smartphone app.

It’s not just simple home devices that benefit from advances in artificial intelligence. More complicated machines like self-driving cars and assistive robots are beginning to make very real entrances into our daily lives. With the number of new gadgets rolling out recently, it’s easy to see why making these machines more efficient, more secure, and more reliable is a priority.

If you missed out on this year’s summit, get a complete recap with RCR Wireless’ full video coverage of the event.

With 2018 drawing to a close, plans for next year’s TWS will be in motion before you know it! Stay in the loop for next year’s Texas Wireless Summit as well as all of WNCG’s latest news by subscribing to our newsletter, Bits&Bytes. Sign up HERE or send us a message at letting us know you’d like to be added.

TWS would not have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors. Special thanks to Huawei and Norton Rose Fulbright, our Platinum sponsors, as well as Holland & Knight, our Gold Plus sponsor. Thanks also to RCR Wireless News for promoting, filming, and broadcasting the entire event. We are also grateful for the support of UT’s Cockrell School of Engineering and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

We’re looking forward to hosting everyone again next year!

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