Universal Transceivers: Opportunities and Future Directions for the Internet of Everything (IoE)
The Internet of Everything (IoE) is a recently introduced information and communication technology (ICT) framework promising for extending the human connectivity to the entire universe, which itself can be regarded as a natural IoE, an interconnected network of everything we perceive. The countless number of opportunities that can be enabled by IoE through a blend of heterogeneous ICT technologies across different scales and environments and a seamless interface with the natural IoE impose several fundamental challenges, such as interoperability, ubiquitous connectivity, energy efficiency, and miniaturization. The key to address these challenges is to advance our communication technology to match the multi-scale, multi-modal, and dynamic features of the natural IoE. To this end, we introduce a new communication device concept, namely the universal IoE transceiver, that encompasses transceiver architectures that are characterized by multi-modality in communication (with modalities such as molecular, RF/THz, optical and acoustic) and in energy harvesting (with modalities such as mechanical, solar, biochemical), modularity, tunability, and scalability. Focusing on these fundamental traits, we provide an overview of the opportunities that can be opened up by micro/nanoscale universal transceiver architectures towards realizing the IoE applications. We also discuss the most pressing challenges in implementing such transceivers and briefly review the open research directions. Our discussion is particularly focused on the opportunities and challenges pertaining to the IoE physical layer, which can enable the efficient and effective design of higher-level techniques. We believe that such universal transceivers can pave the way for seamless connection and communication with the universe at a deeper level and pioneer the construction of the forthcoming IoE landscape.