ETSI launches ISG for 6G-bound Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces technology

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Global standards body ETSI has launched an industry specification group (ISG) for Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces (RIS), a technology that’s expected to play a key 6G role.

RIS is a new type of system node that aims to leverage smart radio surfaces with thousands of small antennas or metamaterial elements to dynamically shape and control radio signals in a goal-oriented manner.

In practical terms, RIS will enable new use cases such as improving elderly care by reconfiguring the radio environment to sense a human’s posture and detect if they fall.

ETSI claims that RIS can use mostly passive components which reduces the deployment and operational cost when compared to fully-stacked cells relays.

RIS can be deployed indoors or outdoors and its characteristics are environmentally friendly thanks to its low energy consumption.

Providing even more flexibility, RIS can be configured to use any part of the radio spectrum – including frequencies from sub-6 GHz to THz – and can be used in tandem with other emerging technologies like AI to optimise its operation.

Extensive research has already been conducted into RIS, so we have a good idea of what shape it will form, but its standardisation remains in the early stages. The new RIS group will work towards changing that.

“Transforming the wireless environment from a passive into an intelligent actor, RIS will create innovation opportunities and progressively impact the evolution of wireless system architecture, access technologies, and networking protocols,” says Arman Shojaeifard, Chair of ISG RIS.

“There are however many technical challenges that need to be adequately addressed before RIS can be adopted into future standards, towards commercialisation of the technology, and the ETSI ISG RIS aims to identify and address some of these challenges.”

Current members of ETSI’s RIS group can be viewed here.

(Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash)

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