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LTE Direct

LTE Direct is a new and innovative device-to-device technology that enables discovering thousands of devices and their services in the proximity of ~500m, in a privacy sensitive and battery efficient way. This allows the discovery to be “Always ON” and autonomous, without drastically affecting the device battery life unlike other Proximity solutions such as OTT based that use GPS, or BT-LE and WiFi Direct.

LTE Direct uses licensed spectrum, allowing mobile operators to employ it as a way to offer a range of differentiated applications and services to users. It relies on the LTE physical layer to provide a scalable and universal framework for discovery and connecting proximate peers. Qualcomm Research, along with other 3GPP participants are leading the standardization of this feature in R-12.

Much more than just a ‘friend finder’, proximate discovery is a platform fundamental in defining the next generation of services across an extensive set of use cases from advertising, to SNS, Gaming, Education and more.

Everyone has a need to discover something, and passive proximity services allow each individual to be perpetually on the look out for whatever social or affinity interests he/she is partial to. There are many scenarios where LTE direct could provide benefits such as by allowing consumers to be alerted of nearby scarce services or events (e.g., concerts) they are passionate for; a doctor’s access to patient records could be restricted more than 100 meters from the hospital; gaming could integrate elements of the physical world (e.g., scavenger hunts); a hotel could know when its best customers walk through the door; a tourist could remain continuously notified of nearby items of interest; home lights could turn on when a car reaches the vicinity of a home; a parent could be notified if a child leaves the yard; pedestrians could be advised of crime alerts in the area; expatriates could identify others from their home country. The list – and the vision – goes on and on.

The existing proximal discovery solution is a cloud-based paradigm and is based on the application perpetually tracking the user’s location and comparing it against a database of what is in the vicinity. Anything relevant will trigger a particular action (e.g., notifying the user of nearby value).

LTE-D is an alternative for mobile developers seeking to deploy proximate discovery solutions as extensions of their existing cloud services. It is a distributed discovery solution – apps forego centralized database processing in identifying relevancy matches, instead autonomously determining relevance at the device level by transmitting and monitoring for relevant attributes.

This approach offers crucial privacy benefits. LTE-D does not utilize the typical perpetual location tracking in determining proximity. In addition, by keeping discovery on the device rather than in the cloud, it allows for user level controls over what is shared.

LTE Direct uses radio signals – called ‘expressions’ – which can be private and discreet (targeted securely for certain audiences only) or public (transmitted so that any application can receive them). Public expressions are a common language available to any application to discover each other, and this is the door to consumer utility and adoption. Public expressions exponentially expand the field of value. For example, someone using Facebook to monitor for ‘photography’ may find a new exhibit opening (broadcast via Yelp), an SVP of photography at ESPN (broadcast via LinkedIn), or another photography expert (broadcast via Twitter). Public expressions combine all applications – all value – into one single network, thereby expanding the utility of the system.

Mobile operators would bethe spectrum holders for LTE Direct, and as such will be authorizing and controlling access to the system. Any application seeking to equip itself with LTE Direct must work with the mobile operator. Thus, this is an excellent opportunity for mobile operators However, its important to note that LTE Direct offers value and opportunities to the entire eco-system including app developers, infra-structure providers, OEMs, system integrators and the various verticals that can translate the platform to meaningful utility for the end consumers.