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Bell Labs is working on several projects related to the 'internet of things', where everyday objects are imbued with connectivity.
In one demonstration, researcher Benoit Christophe showed how an elderly woman's lamp and telephone could be networked together to overcome her degraded hearing. Using a smartphone app, a relative could make the lamp flash on and off when they call the woman, so she can see as well as hear when the call is incoming.
Tom Marzetta, the leader of Bell Labs' communications and signal processing research group in Murray Hill, New Jersey, is working on the successor to 4G mobile communication.
Although it is in a very early stage — no working prototype has yet been created — his system would see 400 antennae on one base station. This would theoretically allow for 20 times the bandwidth of long-term evolution, the replacement for 3G that is just starting to be deployed now.
"We haven't been able to come up with a catchy name," Marzetta said, adding that 'massive MIMO' and 'large-scale MIMO' are candidates.
Some ideas on show at Bell Labs are in an extremely early stage of development. This photo shows concepts drawn up by college students, in collaboration with the research organisation.