The Internet of Skills is an emerging technology paradigm which allows physical capabilities in form of movement (kinaesthetic) and touch (tactile) be delivered remotely. It is underpinned by ultra-low latency networks and standardized haptic codecs. It will revolutionize operations and servicing capabilities for industries and it will revolutionize the way we teach, learn, and interact with our surroundings for consumers. The Internet of Skills will be an enabler for remote skillset delivery and thereby democratize labor the same way as the Internet has democratize knowledge.
The term was coined by Prof Mischa Dohler and team in 2015.
At that time, he and his team at King’s College London were working on ultra-low latency 5G networks. The inspiration however came towards the end of the Ebola crisis for which King’s College London was the UK’s lead-response. The doctors were reporting a complete lack of skills which is when Dohler proposed to combine state-of-the-art robotics and networking to virtualize medical skills.
The term is now generally accepted in the academic, industrial and government communities. Putting the human skills at the centre of the technology developments is seen as an important shift from “Industry 4.0” to “Human 4.0”.
To accelerate the design of the new Internet of Skills, insights from the development of today’s Internet are being borrowed. Indeed, the Internet took several decades of networking and codec innovation to transit from a heavily proprietary circuit-switched audio/video paradigm to today’s standardized packet-switched Internet enabling economies of scale.
Similarly, current engineering efforts aim to lay foundational blocks in integrated end-to-end low-latency networking and haptic codec design to enable a similar transformation from today’s proprietary and expensive haptic edge-technologies to a truly global, standardized and scalable Internet of Skills.
Said Internet has to have the following characteristics: i) be ultra-reliable since many critical tasks will be executed remotely; ii) be of zero perceived delay since the transmission of kinesthetic (movement) data requires closed control loops to support action and reaction and long delays yield system instabilities; and iii) rely on cheap edges to enable true scale.
The actual technology thus is being innovated around three major areas: 1) 5G-enabled ultra-low latency network, 2) artificial edge-intelligence (AI), and 3) standardized haptic codecs. That allows a reliable haptic experience around the globe, i.e. a true Internet experience.
Ultra-Low Latency Networks
Networks are vital in guaranteeing the lowest possible delay possible whilst being extremely reliable and robust. End-to-end path reservation through network slicing enabled by software define networking (SDN) technologies in 5G will play an instrumental part in this. Furthermore, the tactile internet will be instrumental in guaranteeing minimum delay and strong robustness over the wireless edge. Some fundamental architecture changes are however required to enable low delay; along with many other networking transformations.
AI, together with networks, play an instrumental role in giving the perception of zero-delay networks. Indeed, one ought to use model-mediated teleoperation systems to have AI predict movement on the remote end and thus give enough time for the signal to reach the other side of the planet. The haptic control loops typically require a delay of 1-10ms, which translates to 100-1000km range under typical networking conditions; a range which can be extended by model-mediated approach to the tens of thousands of kilometers needed to cover the entire planet. Open research problems here pertain to environment modeling (geometry and physical properties); stable force rendering on the master side; standardized database of environmental models and cloud placement of intelligence and functionalities.
Finally, the haptic codecs will enable scale in the future as it will avoid vendor lock-ins. Here, we envisage the combination of tactile (touch) and kinesthetic (movement) information into the already available modalities of video and audio. Open challenges here are to develop a haptic mean opinion score (h-MOS); find trade-offs for joint tactile and kinesthetic information; trade-off studies for integration with other codecs; and possibly see if we could use compressed sensing solutions.
The potential global impact of this creation would be phenomenal and instrumental in conquering some of the world’s biggest challenges. The Internet of Skills – having reached widespread adoption or being deployed at needs – will enable important disaster operation applications such as remote monitoring/surgery of people in need (e.g. applicable in Ebola hit areas); it will enable remote education (e.g. a child in Gaza is taught painting); it will enable industrial remote decommissioning and servicing capabilities (e.g. the remote reparation of a broken car in Africa); among other important applications.
Example of the United Nation’s Ebola response: Basic and frequent manual operations like spraying antiseptics on equipment and healthcare workers, communicating with patients through gestures, pictures, or animations can be done using commercially available light tactile robots. Medical experts will move the hands and grippers of an exact replica of the remote robot to send commands and receive feedback via the Internet of Skills. This will allow aid workers and medical experts to contribute to the Ebola response operation without risking their own lives, or bringing the virus back home.
Example of remote servicing: Operational costs (OPEX) are one of the largest expenditures for industries to date, with inefficiencies due to sub-optimal/wrong skill being one of the largest contributors. The Internet of Skills will allow matching specific needs in one physical location with the best skill in another location. Broken cars and airplanes can thus be serviced remotely; industrial plants inspected and repaired; high value manufacturing supervised – all in a significantly more efficient and effective manner, with minimal carbon footprint.
“Internet of Skills – where robotics meets AI, 5G and the Tactile Internet,” IEEE CTN, 24 January 2017.
Mischa Dohler, et al, “Internet of Skills, Where Robotics Meets AI, 5G and the Tactile Internet,” EuCNC 2017.
M Lema, et al, Mischa Dohler, “5G Case Study of Internet of Skills: Slicing the Human Senses,” EuCNC 2017.
"Internet of Skills: Time To Disrupt Cellular,” Keynote, IET ISP 2017, 5 December 2017, London, UK.
“Internet of Skills: Time To Disrupt Cellular,” Keynote, NOF 2017, 22 November 2017, London, UK.
“5G – Are You Ready?,” Ericsson Innovation Days, 17 November 2017, New Delhi, India.
“Internet of Skills: 5G & Industrial Co-Creation,” Ericsson Innovation Days, 16 November 2017, Krakow, Poland.
“Internet of Skills Democratizing Labor and Empowering Humans,” Plenary Keynote, Coleman Institute, 2 November 2017, Colorado, US.
“Internet of Skills From Industry 4.0 To Human 4.0,” Keynote at Bosch 2017 Innovation event, 25 September 2017, Stuttgart, Germany.
“5G and the Internet of Skills,” Keynote, IET Future Fest, 17 October 2017, London, UK.
“Internet of Skills – Enabled by Spectrum-Aware Decoupled Up and Downlinks,” Plenary Keynote, Crowncom 2017, 20 September 2017, Lisbon, Portugal.
- “Internet of Skills – Where Communications, Robotics and AI Meet,” Plenary Keynote, 7th International Spectrum Congress 2017, 5 September 2017, Bogota, Colombia.
- “Internet of Skills – Where Communications, Robotics and AI Meet,” Plenary Keynote (4,000 people), OFC 2017, 21 March 2017, Los Angeles, USA.
- and many more