OPPO Invests Billions in R&D for Intelligent Connectivity

OPPO Invests Billions in R&D for Intelligent Connectivity

December 12, 2019

With a heavy focus on intelligent connectivity, the recent OPPO INNO DAY in Shenzhen, China saw the release of its anticipated whitepaper; projecting a quarter of the 1.7 billion mobile handsets shipped globally will integrate 5G by 2023 and every two out of three smartphones will have prebuilt AI hardware and features by 2025.

The recent event served as a platform for industry experts, partners and key opinion leaders to elaborate on the future of technology.

In his keynote speech, OPPO Founder and CEO OPPO Tony Chen says as the adoption of 5G and AI ramp up, intelligent connectivity is increasingly within reach.

“We believe the concept of connection is just the foundation, whereas the integration and convergence of things will be the future. The concept of intelligent connectivity consists of four key parts, including the convergence of technology and service, convergence of organization, the convergence of culture and the convergence of technology, arts and humanities. OPPO has been more than just a phone maker from the outset. In fact, smartphones have simply been a gateway for OPPO to deliver a diverse portfolio of technological services. For OPPO and even the entire industry, there won’t be any company solely focusing on smartphones,” says Chen.

Chen says in order to achieve Intelligent Connectivity within the next 3 years, he announced an R&D budget of SGD 9.66 billion to develop core technologies in hardware, software and system in addition to 5G/6G, AI, AR, big data and other frontier technologies.

To seize 5G opportunities, Chen says OPPO will implement three key strategies. For a start, the company will remain committed to core technology R&D to develop world-leading tech; second, OPPO will build a multi-portal ecosystem of intelligent devices with smartphones serving as the key gateway; and finally, OPPO will continue to rethink user service and optimize its content and service offerings.

Building an integrated technology system to power immersive and personalized 5G experiences OPPO Vice President and Head of OPPO Research Institute Levin Liu says in the face of the new 5G era, OPPO will head towards Tech Innovation 2.0. which will be driven by ‘frontier technology and value for user’.

“As the importance of convergence between technologies and services becomes essential, OPPO is building an integrated technology model that covers five spheres, namely: equipment, data, computing, services and scenarios. The model, in which 5G and AI serve as the infrastructure and our core capacities, integrates all technologies to create an all-around consistent technological experience. OPPO will follow a ‘ three circle scenarios’ roadmap that covers personal scenarios, vertical scenarios and convergent scenarios to plan its future lineup of devices,” says Liu.

With this, Liu added that OPPO plans to launch smart watches, smart wireless headphones and 5G CPE in Q1, 2020.

Chen says OPPO’s ultimate goal is to drive the long-term development of its smart device business, providing users with more comprehensive and personalized technological experiences. Chen says OPPO will continue to stay true to the company’s core values of “Benfen” while actively working with partners across the entire industry chain in an open and mutually beneficial way to explore the future of intelligent connectivity.

On the pursuit of intelligent connectivity, OPPO and IHS Markit, jointly released a whitepaper, ‘Intelligent Connectivity: Unleashing Opportunities with the Power of 5G, AI and Cloud’. The whitepaper aims to help inform audiences about the significance and value of intelligent connectivity and enable the industry to establish a more open, collaborative understanding of the ecosystem, better informing and guiding the sustainable development of intelligent connectivity in the future.

As industry cogitates on the new opportunities the 5G era will bring, the whitepaper says the new ecosystem of intelligent connectivity is expected to expand the market and unleash more opportunities within the industry.

The whitepaper noted that the year 2019 witnessed the first wave of standards-based 5G commercial launches. By October 2019, 50 carriers had launched 3GPP-compliant 5G commercial services across 27 markets. In addition, 328 carriers in 109 markets were also investing in 5G.

The whitepaper also sheds light on the current 5G deployment worldwide, with large-scale deployments of over 10,000 5G NR/gab’s occurring in countries like China and South Korea. In Australia, UK, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, UAE, and the US there have been small-scale, tactical deployments of hurdreds of 5G NR/gNBs.

The whitepaper also claims a massive wave of 5G development and 5G applications will boom in China. With 5G driving accelerated integration of cloud, AI and edge computing, 5G is distinct from previous generations of cellular technologies in that it has been designed at the outset to address many different technical requirements, device form factors, applications and audiences.

The whitepaper predicts that intelligent connectivity will rely on the collaborative efforts of AI, the cloud and edge, connectivity (including 5G) and IoT to deliver value to enterprises and consumers. This value may refer to a range of aspects including lower operational costs, access to new sources of revenue, or enhanced customer experience.

AI is considered to be in its early stages, what is currently called “narrow” or “weak AI”. Meanwhile, 5G applications, edge computing and cloud computing will enable the deployment of AI in more solutions, while real-life applications and use cases will evolve into a hybrid cloud-edge model that will enable powerful AI.

The whitepaper also notes that because of the intelligent connectivity between 5G, AI, cloud computing and edge computing, companies and organizations should build more sophisticated business models as well as advocating openness, sharing and collaboration with partners for the development of new features to their solutions.

The development of the 5G device ecosystem has ramped up quickly across many fields. As of mid-November 2019, 72 vendors had announced a total of 183 5G devices, such as smartphones, indoor and outdoor CPE (customer premises equipment), robots, drones, etc. Of the 183 5G devices, over 40 are commercially available.

According to IHS Markit forecasts, around a quarter of the 1.7 billion mobile handsets shipped globally will integrate 5G by 2023 and every two out of three smartphones will have prebuilt AI hardware and features by 2025.

Additionally, digital assistants in the form of smart speakers will continue to be in demand. The global installed base of smart speakers will rise from over 100 million this year to over 800 million in three years.

AI-capabilities will increasingly be integrated into consumer entertainment devices. For instance, AI-capable cameras, twinned with smart TVs or streaming boxes, will use facial recognition to launch personal viewing preferences and recommendations. AI will also be able to identify key moments, such as the winning goal, in a recorded sports program.

Since cloud gaming has lowered the barriers for consumers by removing hardware costs, cloud gaming and VR/AR will embrace new opportunities, allowing users to access games whenever and wherever they want with smaller devices. The latency is also reduced to enable the comprehensive development of VR/AR games, creating a global market that was worth over USD 100 billion in 2018 according to the whitepaper.

In the era of intelligent connectivity, there will also be many use cases and opportunities for IoT in video surveillance, autonomous driving and industrial automation. The whitepaper believes that the rise of new devices has not demised the key role smartphones play in the life of consumers. They not only play a central role in the consumer IoT space, but also serve as a gateway for wearables such as smartwatches and health monitors, controllers/receivers, and a display for data and video from other devices.

It is projected that these ever-evolving technologies will work together to create new, immersive experiences for consumers, address challenges and create opportunities for enterprises and the industry.

(Ed. Featured image courtesy of OPPO: Levin Liu, OPPO Vice President and Head of Research Institute Levin Liu at the OPPO INNO DAY in Shenzhen, China, December 2019.)

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