Oppo India has been at the center of R&D and innovation supporting the company’s global market in 5G and other new technology areas. Tasleem Arif, Vice President and Head Oppo India R&D in interaction with Prabhu Ram talks about the impact of 5G in the new normal, Oppo’s R&D initiatives, patents, its innovation-led culture, and the support to the ecosystem. Excerpts:
COVID-19 has impacted the world in many ways, including a massive adoption of digital technologies. How do you see 5G impacting consumer lives in the post-pandemic era?
From social engagement norms to the way we work, 2020 has witnessed a lot of changes including that in our lifestyle. More time spent at home during the pandemic has increased the interest in emerging 5G-enhanced digital services like cloud gaming, immersive education like digital AR books for kids, and services that offer remote digital live event experiences.
The catalyst to driving this growth will be the adoption of 5G in India, which will enhance the quality of life for users. 5G’s fast network speed, low latency, and massive connectivity should allow consumers with uninterrupted streaming of high-quality video content such as UHD, 4K, 8K that includes all paid OTT video, AI-based video content, and premium esports streaming.
5G will enable consumers to further explore their interests and integrate them into their daily life for better internet of experience. One-third of those considering taking up 5G will continue to engage with core digital services including video-on-demand streaming subscriptions, high-fidelity music, and live sport streaming services.
The R&D team at Hyderabad is working relentlessly on product localization and innovation in fields such as software, imaging, and communication network.
How crucial is R&D in making a remarkable change in pushing tech forward?
Oppo has always focused on innovation in order to make our users future-ready and add value to their lives and experience. With our brand vision ‘technology for mankind and kindness for the world’, our entire approach is towards making the life of our users better every day.
Our technology development strategy ‘3+N+X’, is a clear indication of our vision of tech for people and our brand philosophy of building great products for our users. As part of this strategy, the “3” refers to the three underlying technologies, namely hardware, software, and services technologies, which help the company to bring an integrated smart life to users worldwide.
“N”, represents a number of Oppo’s essential capabilities, including AI, security and privacy, multimedia, and interconnectivity. Lastly, “X”, refers to the leading-edge and differentiated technologies and strategic resources such as the flash charge technology that foster innovation and greatly improve user experience.
With this strategy, R&D plays a crucial role in understanding the requirement of our users and coming up with localized solutions. The R&D team at Hyderabad is working relentlessly on product localization and innovation in fields such as software, imaging, and communication network. Being the largest R&D center outside of China, it is a key enabler for the implementation of our 3+N+X strategy and accelerates the adoption of advanced technologies in the Indian market.
Our research and technology are not only making a breakthrough to impact the Indian Oppo users but marking its imprint on the global map as well. The overseas market is very reliant on our Hyderabad research and development team. Our techies’ footprint can be found on the phones in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Oppo has a strong patent portfolio. What drives this innovation-led culture?
Innovation is embedded in the DNA of Oppo. By following ‘virtuous innovation’, we ensure that technology empowers people. The dedication of teams can be witnessed through the different global benchmarks set by us which have led us to stay at the center of innovation in the industry.
The concept technologies demonstrated at the 2020 edition of Oppo Inno Day including the X 2021 rollable concept handset, the AR Glass 2021, and CybeReal AR application that showcases how we integrate technological innovation with a human touch in order to give users value by offering personalized technology that is appropriate and relevant. Going forward, Oppo will continue to collaborate with partners, illuminating the future of humane technology.
Unlike 3G or 4G, 5G is currently the first globally unified communication standard. This means that 5G has lower promotion costs, more flexible applications, and greater potential than previous communication standards.
On the emerging telecom standards front, where do you see India on the 5G path?
Unlike 3G or 4G, 5G is currently the first globally unified communication standard. This means that 5G has lower promotion costs, more flexible applications, and greater potential than previous communication standards. Even though many global countries have seen the deployment of 5G, the development has not yet reached its full capacity and is at a nascent stage. Currently, 92 operators in 38 countries and regions have deployed 5G in their real-time networks.
India will be a major market for 5G services and we can expect to see a lot more progress in this sector. 5G will be a key driver for the Industrial Revolution 4.0. Enterprise use cases that utilize massive IoT with ultra-reliable, low-latency communications to transform verticals such as manufacturing, utilities, healthcare, retail, agriculture and automotive, will gain significant efficiencies as they adopt 5G at scale. We witnessed how 4G impacted people in the past few years, 5G is expected to achieve wider coverage in the next few years, and we expect that there will be more diverse devices and innovative services.
Oppo India is also at the forefront of the country’s 5G push. We are among the few OEMs in India to invest in state-of-the-art 5G simulators. While most 5G tests in the country involved non-standalone models, we developed their solutions on stand-alone platforms. This meant that testing devices with an authentic 5G set-up. The team here is now working with various Indian operators on solutions to make 5G technology less complex and more affordable.
The company seems to be working with start-ups, academia, and state governments. How is it supporting the ecosystem in India?
We not only encourage in-house innovation but have also tied up with multiple other organizations to encourage a wave of innovation across the country. We have partnered with T-hub and signed MoU with the Kerala Start-up Mission to support the startup ecosystem. Through the collaboration, we aim to scale up opportunities for some of the most innovative startups in the areas of artificial intelligence (AI), network, battery, camera and image processing, gaming, and system performance.
We are also working with IIT Hyderabad to make localized camera solutions, specifically targeting the requirements in India identified after detailed consumer research. Imaging effects have been specifically designed and tuned for the Indian skin tone.
As of September 2020, Oppo has submitted over 3,000 5G standard-related proposals to 3GPP, declared over 1,000 families of 5G standard patents to the ETSI. It has deployed its 5G standard patents in over 20 countries.
What about the 5G-specific R&D initiatives globally and in India? How is the Indian scientific talent enabling innovations and IP in making 5G possible?
We have always attached great importance to the development of patents, with continuing effort on the exploration of cutting-edge technology. As of September 2020, Oppo has submitted over 3,000 5G standard-related proposals to 3GPP, declared over 1,000 families of 5G standard patents to the ETSI. It has deployed its 5G standard patents in over 20 countries.
As an early adopter in the 5G journey, Oppo became the first tech brand to launch 5G mobile products in the European market and organized the first 5G WhatsApp call from India. It was honored in early 2015 to be the only device manufacturer participating in the global push for the unification of a standard and has now become one of the most influential smartphone manufacturers contributing to the development of 5G standards.
The India R&D team is also working closely with leading industry chain partners like Jio, Airtel, Qualcomm, MediaTek, and others to soon realize the dream of a 5G experience for every smartphone user in India. With the set up of our first 5G innovation lab at Hyderabad R&D center, we aim at elevating the global 5G experience and strengthen the overall ecosystem.
The new lab will deepen the development of core product technologies for the 5G ecosystem and accelerate its rollout in the country. The technologies developed at the lab will mark a global footprint while promising our vision to make India an innovation hub. With the new 5G lab set-up, our India team will also be leading 5 G-led innovations for other countries including Middle East, Africa, South Asia, Japan, and Europe.