Identifying 6G Use Cases and Future Trends

By: Anita Doehler, Feifei Lou

Following NGMN’s “6G Drivers and Vision” publication in 2021, the publication of “6G Use Cases and Analysis” marks the next step toward NGMN’s work on 6G end-to-end requirements.

The identification of 6G use cases is key to predicting major trends in future usage scenarios and will help to steer the needs and requirements for future generational change. Therefore, operators, technology suppliers, and academic advisors in NGMN joined forces and contributed their views on which 6G use cases they predict will emerge in the future decade.

A total of 50 use cases were identified, categorized into four classes, and mapped into 14 generic use cases. The four classes are:

  • Enhanced human communication—including use cases that have the potential to enrich human communications, such as immersive experience, telepresence, and multi-modal interaction.
  • Enhanced machine communication—including use cases reflecting the growth in collaborative robotics, and autonomous machines, the requirement for sensing the surrounding environment, and the need for robots to communicate among themselves and with humans.
  • Enabling services—including use cases that require additional features, such as high accuracy location, mapping, environmental, or body sensing data.
  • Network evolution—describing aspects related to the evolution of core technologies, including AI as a service, energy efficiency, and delivering ubiquitous coverage.
High-level analyses and assessments of use cases were conducted at an early stage in several areas, including potential technology components, feasibility, and differentiation to 5G. In the following, a few examples are provided for each class.

Enhanced human communication

People may be able to interact with devices or control machines via brain-machine interfaces. With 6G, brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) may realize the sharing of sensations and thoughts between human and machine, human and human, crossing a long distance, and in real-time. People would feel they have a sort of telekinesis, with their thoughts immediately realized without legacy human interaction in between. With 6G, a new term seems to come into play which will be called Internet of Behavior (IoB), where humans will include their individual characteristics into the information flow.

With more systems being driven by AI technologies, the machine no longer passively waits for users to input. This brings fundamental changes to the human-computer interface (HCI). Machines may sense what humans “do” and reason what humans “want.” For example, self-driving cars and personalized healthcare robots are emulating human behaviors. Machines are more focused on understanding and replicating the human mind and brain. Those machines are trying to perceive, recognize, and think like humans, and human-machine interactions will evolve to equal human-like interactions with emotions and mutual understanding.

BCI systems are providing an alternative method of interaction between humans and the world. In the past, most BCIs focused on helping people with severe movement disability by replacing or restoring lost movements. Today, more and more BCIs are aiming as consumer products for all users, and certain functions of the human body can be replaced with machines manipulated by mind.

Enhanced machine communication

A much closer interaction is expected to develop between humans and robots, through the form of collaborative robots, cobots. These connected cobots should be able to reliably read and interpret human actions and intents and react in a trustworthy way, and thereby assist humans in an efficient and safe way. They should be able to work as colleagues on precise and challenging tasks in industries—with the help of digital twins to do the job of robots more efficiently. Or they may work as care assistants in the homes of elders or the disabled, doing the heavy work of humans. A cobot could be a separate machine taking commands or adapting to the situation presented, or closer to humans as an exoskeleton or adaptive wheelchair. Cobots could also form teams among each other, solving tasks together and collaborating with humans on a group level. To unleash the highest potential and efficiency, it should be possible for sets of cobots to jointly define the way they collaborate and even communicate naturally under the control of the network.

Enabling services

Supported by the communication systems of the future, the 6G network may sense the environment. For instance, advanced techniques will be used in security-screening procedures to eliminate security lines at airports. A combination of various sensing modalities may be used to screen people as they move through crowded areas rather than only at entrances. For example, it could be programmed to automatically detect metallic objects of certain kinds that people may be carrying in a crowded controlled area. The network can sense and identify potential threats. In a smart hospital in the


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