On any given day, we transmit more data than generated from the dawn of time up until the year 2000. This translates into huge energy consumption. The internet alone accounts for 8-9 percent of global power consumption and the level continues to grow.
Forward thinkers at High Tech Summit: Niels Hersoug, Senior Project Head at DTU Fotonik. He heads the joint industry project INCOM (INnovative solutions for next generation COMmunications infrastructure).
“This will be all good if the supply is green electricity, but that is unfortunately not always the case. In other words, the current trend is not sustainable. But the solution is not a ban on playing Fortnite or on streaming movies. Research has demonstrated, how a manifold increase in transmission rates is possible by improved use of optical fibers. What we need to do is to develop these technologies further and implement them into industrial products,” says Niels Hersoug.
Internet-of-Things (IoT), 5th generation telecommunication networks (5G), Industry 4.0, and advanced cloud solutions are developments likely to challenge power consumption and threaten sustainability further. To meet this challenge, research groups at DTU and Aarhus University have teamed up with 12 industrial partners in the INCOM project.
Inspired by DTU world record
3D-printing is often seen as part of digitalization and often used for robotic tooling.Of the total budget for the INCOM project of 100 million DKK, the partners will jointly provide 40 million and Innovation Fund Denmark contributes with 60 million.
“It makes good sense that creating the right framework is a public task. Especially, since the solutions will be of benefit to the global environment and climate protection and resonate very well with the Danish Digital Agenda and the UN Global Goals. Also, the economic growth and workplaces to be created will add value to the Danish society,” says Niels Hersoug.
In 2012, a group led by Professor Leif Oxenløwe, DTU Fotonik, set a world record by transmitting 661 Tbit per second through a single fiber.
“This equals transmitting the entire global traffic on the internet through a single fiber. Obviously, this is not what we want to do in practice, but it shows the potential of optical technology. There is plenty of head space for more efficient transmission, lowering both economic costs and energy consumption significantly. And this is just an example from the optical domain. Technologies for harvesting more efficiency is also known in other domains,” Niels Hersoug comments.
Strong focus on entrepreneurship
The INCOM project began in October 2018 and is scheduled to run for three years. According to a survey of the 12 industrial participants, they all are rather ambitious and expect a significant growth based on innovation springing from the project.
“The fact that participating industry hopes to generate turnover is a good thing in itself. We have already initiated several proof of concept projects. Still, at this early stage a lot of the industry input is rooted in general enthusiasm related to the technological interest and the good cause,” says Niels Hersoug, adding that growth will not be limited to the 12 current partner companies: “We have a clear ambition of establishing fresh start-up companies from the project. The potential is huge.”
The entrepreneurship perspective is yet another reason for the strong engagement level of the INCOM partners at High Tech Summit 2019: “Over the past years, DTU has created a great environment for entrepreneurship. The focus is not only on technology but also very much on the commercial side. Provided the young entrepreneurs do their homework properly, they will actually stand a good chance to achieve the necessary funding for a good idea,” Niels Hersoug concludes.
“It’s no use closing your eyes to the changes. We need to constantly keep up and try to influence the process.”
Professor Jan Madsen, DTU Compute