Wireless interconnection is more and more widely used. This trend is most obvious in the field of consumer electronics. In the past decade, the mobile phone and tablet market has rapidly promoted the adoption of various wireless standards. The number of Wi Fi hotspots worldwide has exceeded 175 million and is expected to reach 330 million in  2018. The total number of products supporting Bluetooth has also increased, and the number of audio devices supporting Bluetooth will increase by 400% from 2014 to 2018 . Most wireless technologies use the same 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, which are becoming increasingly crowded. In  2015, the order volume of smart phones was estimated to be 3.4 billion. Each mobile phone means more data demand, constantly pushing the resources of mobile phone network and authorized frequency band to the limit.
In recent years, a new solution has emerged, which can not only solve the resource shortage of existing frequency bands, but also break the limitations of existing wireless solutions. In the millimeter wave (30 GHz – 300 GHz) band, the 60 GHz band stands out because of its most potential. This frequency band is not authorized in many areas, so it is very convenient for many applications to adopt this frequency band. This provides the possibility for the emergence of a series of new devices integrating Gigabit transceivers, which can provide massive bandwidth compared with the already crowded 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
Many applications can benefit from 60 GHz technology. In the field of data transmission, 60 GHz technology is being used to replace the existing Wi Fi applications to achieve a data transmission rate of up to 4.6gbps, which is five times faster than the existing 802.11ac  standard. WirelessHD ® The standard can realize video streaming between consumer electronic devices. Manufacturers have begun to add wirelesshd support to laptops, smartphones, digital TVs, video projectors and virtual reality helmets. It is expected that wirelesshd will also be used in mobile applications, home cinemas and other computing devices. Other fields have also begun to develop 60 GHz technology, including wireless backhaul applications used in office buildings and campus. Relying on 60 GHz data transmission applications, the interconnection between buildings and wireless connectors can be built quickly and conveniently to realize lighter and more stable equipment. However, the demand for higher wireless width and high-speed HD video transmission is not limited to the field of consumer electronics. The industrial sector can also benefit from millimeter wave technology. This article provides readers with an overview of 60 GHz technology, covering not only existing consumer electronics applications, but also exploring the potential applications of millimeter wave technology across many different industrial fields.
60 GHz Wireless Technology Overview
Regulators, including the US FCC, have designated unlicensed frequency bands for various industries. The 60 GHz band has a bandwidth of more than 7 GHz . Compared with 5GHz band, it can provide more than 20 times of bandwidth resources.
The 60 GHz band has a wide spectrum range, can provide gigabit network capacity, and has several key propagation and attenuation characteristics. New high-performance wireless solutions can benefit from it.
2.4GHz and 5GHz bands are suitable for medium-range transmission and are ideal for local network architectures such as Wi Fi. The signal propagation distance in the 60 GHz band is relatively short, and attenuation occurs when passing through air and solid structures, so it is ideal for short-range applications. In order to make full use of the advantages of 60 GHz band, phased array antenna, highly directional beam and beam control technology are needed. Lattice Semiconductor provides industry-leading and mass-produced RF transceivers based on sibeam technology, using standard CMOS IC manufacturing and packaging technology.
The characteristic of millimeter wave technology is that the antenna needs to turn in a certain range to aim at the target. Different types of applications can be divided according to different ranges. In order to demonstrate related technologies, we have divided three application types: 10mm, 1-10m and 100m and above.
[10mm] wireless connector
In a very short distance (usually about 10mm), 60 GHz technology can be used as an efficient alternative to cables. The specially designed wireless transmitter and receiver IC can be used to transmit data at an extremely high rate over a short distance, so as to replace wired connection.
60 GHz technology can also be used as an alternative solution for physical interfaces. It is very useful for applications requiring equipment durability because it eliminates the physical interface, which is one of the common failure points of electronic equipment and one of the main inlets of water, dust and other particles that can cause harm to electronic equipment. In addition to the failure rate, some special interfaces, such as the interface connecting a removable tablet laptop to a base device or a traditional notebook base, often require significantly more development and implementation costs than standardized connectors.
[1-10m] wireless data / audio
In the field of medium distance applications (1-10m), 60 GHz technology can be used as a high-speed alternative solution for existing wireless applications such as Wi Fi and a cable alternative solution for wireless video.
802.11ad is a 60 GHz data transmission standard defined by IEEE. IEEE also defines Wi Fi standards such as 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11n and 802.11ac. Qualcomm and other major manufacturers in the industry are integrating 802.11ad into their products  to realize ultra fast video and data transmission for users through this technology.
60 GHz technology is particularly suitable for wireless cable alternative solutions. High bandwidth, low latency, point-to-point architecture and indoor transmission characteristics make it an ideal alternative solution for indoor cables. This technology can play a role in the home theater system (Figure 1) to realize HD video transmission. This technology enables consumers to place video content output devices and TV screens freely and flexibly, providing great convenience for consumers. Wirelesshd standard is emerging. As a leading technology in the field of high-quality video transmission, it makes full use of the characteristics of 60 GHz band to achieve excellent wireless user experience.
Figure 1 – reliable wireless HD video transmission applications using 60 GHz Technology
[100m +] Gigabit outdoor wireless link
Millimeter wave technology can also play an important role in future wireless backhaul infrastructure applications. It is suitable for the next generation 5g mobile communication infrastructure, fixed access backhaul expansion and point-to-point links in the campus. The wireless capacity of 60 GHz channel and highly optimized RF links can realize the ideal “wireless optical fiber” to replace the existing optical fiber backhaul applications (Fig. 2).
Figure 2 – 60 GHz Wireless fiber use case
At present, there are many schemes competing with each other in the market, but most systems are implemented based on IEEE 802.11ad standard. In addition to the indoor applications mentioned earlier, the revision of the existing 802.11 standard covers the use of 60 GHz millimeter wave band to support long-distance link (up to 500 meters) applications. It uses the same beam control technology developed for 10m room interconnection to support other applications such as access point connections and outdoor backhaul links.
It is obvious that 60 GHz technology brings a lot of opportunities to the field of consumer electronics, and the technology development in this field will continue to develop rapidly. With the continuous promotion of 60 GHz solution in the consumer electronics market, manufacturers in the industrial field are also exploring how to use this technology. For many industrial applications, like many applications in the field of consumer electronics, manufacturers can benefit from 60 GHz technology. With millimeter wave technology, manufacturers can eliminate cables and improve mobility and flexibility. Moreover, many new application fields, such as target detection or gesture recognition using millimeter wave technology, have attracted attention in the industrial field.
Industrial mechanical vision system is mainly used to inspect or guide robot manufacturing products . They are indispensable tools in modern factories and help manufacture high-quality and accurate products in various industrial fields, including electronic products, manufacturing industry and the most cutting-edge garment production. Mechanical vision consists of three basic elements: image capture device (similar to camera, image sensor captures raw data), computer or processor for analyzing data, and interconnection link. Nowadays, the mechanical vision image capture device supports higher and higher resolution. It is usually connected to the computer through multi-core cable for image processing.
At present, a variety of standards need to be used for data transmission through cables. However, wired solutions face many limitations. For robot guidance applications, the cable will affect the action, and the image capture device and cable need to be carefully planned and arranged. In addition, the standard cable length (usually 5-30 meters, unless expensive optical fiber is used) is a big disadvantage, especially considering that the cable has to pass through industrial machinery and many obstacles, which means that the computer needs to be close to the factory area. Because computers and cables need to be managed, this brings many obstacles, and computers exposed to harsh industrial environment may shorten their service life.
Traditional wireless solutions are not ideal alternatives to cables because of their high latency and the need to compress images. Any delay in using a wireless solution will increase manufacturing time and cost because the production line needs to reduce speed to accommodate the processor time required by the computer. At the same time, image compression will increase the difficulty of computer parsing the captured image.
With a 60 GHz wireless solution, one or more image capture devices can be installed on the machine without video cables. These image capture devices can transmit data directly to the computer or connect to a wireless link to connect to the control center. Wireless video can realize the free movement of robots, help reduce hidden dangers in the factory area, facilitate the setting of new equipment, and computers can also be moved from the factory area to a more controlled environment. In recent years, the demand for mechanical vision has increased significantly. 60 GHz technology is committed to providing maximum flexibility and convenience for systems in today’s complex work areas.
Industrial monitoring is another area where millimeter wave technology can play a role. Many monitoring systems in offices, factories and manufacturing facilities are outdated and can only provide low image resolution. Upgrading these systems usually requires reinstalling existing cables to match new devices, often with millions of dollars in overhead. Wirelesshd can greatly simplify the process of renovating these facilities, and can wirelessly transmit higher quality video to nearby receiving stations as long as it is connected to the existing power grid in the old system.
Medical applications can also benefit greatly from 60 GHz technology. Digital imaging is a key diagnostic tool for doctors, especially in the operating room. Higher quality images can improve the accuracy and provide more accurate and effective treatment for patients. However, cramming a complete set of computer equipment into the operating room has brought countless problems. The smallest problem will be a lot of cables that are difficult to disinfect, which may lead to potential safety hazards. Millimeter wave technology can help. For example, it can wirelessly transmit real-time video from the micro camera to a nearby monitor or directly to a head mounted display installed in the surgeon’s goggles. This ensures a sterile room environment and reduces the hard work of installing new equipment.
Another potential innovation area of 60 GHz technology in the operating room is the realization of gesture control. Millimeter wave gesture recognition can detect and read the movement track of fingers, which is more accurate than the existing infrared camera technology. The latter is very difficult to work in the changeable lighting environment, which will greatly affect the accuracy. Reliable gesture control can replace the buttons on the machine, making it more convenient to disinfect the equipment.
60 GHz technology is a hot new direction in the field of global wireless interconnection. In addition to all kinds of consumer electronic products in today’s market, there are also a large number of industrial applications based on millimeter wave technology. The outstanding advantages of 60 GHz technology, such as low latency, high bandwidth and minimized interface, make it an ideal choice for many industrial applications.
Responsible editor: GT