TIC-TOC operates at a speed fast enough to download a 3 GB movie within one second. The system also can the system can differentiate data packets according to their respective urgency and give priority to the “more urgent” data packets. The most striking property of the system however is ability to transfer data packets with minimal delay, enabling response times of one millisecond. This is relevant because it is on par with the human sensor of touch. For comparison: With the 4G mobile technology that currently represents the mainstream, response times of less than 50 milliseconds are not possible.
TIC-TOC stands for “Time Controlled Tactile Optical Access” and is designed to work on 5G networks. The researchers anticipate the TIC-TOC technology will help advance virtual reality and augmented reality in all sorts of sectors, from education and healthcare, to entertainment and public safety.
For example, it could be possible to deploy and operate robots in dangerous or disaster areas with instant sight and feel communication between human controllers and machines. When the machine sees something, the humans sees it, and when the human remotely controls the robot’s hand or head, the motion will happen immediately. The same could be true for telesurgery, with a doctor remotely controlling a robot performing the surgery, but the doctor feels as if she were in the operating room because the response is instantaneous. With these properties, the technology represents a major step towards the implementation of time-critical functions in industrial real-time controls.
“The team developed TIC-TOC in order to help address the traffic jams that occurs within current information processing systems, causing delays. By increasing the speed at which information can be transmitted, and allowing more important information to be handled with priority, they have ensured that as soon as a user clicks on a webpage, it loads instantly, or they can watch a video live essentially without any delay,” said ETRI project leader HwanSeok Chung.
Described in the Journal of Lightwave Technology, the TIC-TOC technology consists of internet access control chips and optical transceivers to speed up data processing time. The optical transceiver converts high-speed electrical data into optical signals to transmit over optical fibers. The chips guarantee latency (the time from data’s origin to destination) is less than 1 millisecond with ETRI’s low latency-oriented packet scheduling technology controlling network traffic. The chips could further increase network speeds faster than 25 Gbps by combining multiple channels for data transmission.
Once the few remaining hurdles are moved out of the way, the TIC-TOC technology could be commercially available. The scientists refrained from detailing the nature of these hurdles. However, they said the expect that within one year they will be ready.
Research paper on Journal of Lightwave Technology: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8447207