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Optical Zeitgeist Laboratory

The Optical Zeitgeist Laboratory at INRS conducts research on future 6G mobile networks, the tactile Internet, extended reality (XR), and blockchain technology. The Optical Zeitgeist Laboratory is rethinking the role of unified communication networks with the aim of unlocking their full potential, including their future convergence with connected robots and other extended reality (XR) and blockchain technologies, to achieve the 6G vision by 2030. It focuses on human-robot communications to help fuse and recombine the mobile Internet, knowledge work automation, the Internet of Things, cloud technology, and advanced robotics—the five technologies with the highest estimated potential economic impact by 2025.

Cloudlet/Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) Infrastructure

The cloudlet/MEC equipment is a small-scale Infrastructure-as-a Service (IaaS) cloud. The goal of the infrastructure is to investigate potential open issues in the area of cloudlet/MEC integrated FiWi broadband access networks. In particular, the lab aims at developing and analyzing various cloud solutions at the edge of fiber-wireless networks. One of the potential application areas of cloudlet/MEC integrated fiber-wireless broadband access networks is virtual reality (VR). While VR has the potential to unlock numerous benefits, a few fundamental issues need to be tackled first. In particular, high bandwidth and ultra-low latency are essential requirements for a truly immersive VR experience in converged fiber-wireless broadband access networks.


Tactile Internet Infrastructure

The Tactile Internet lab investigates real-time human-to-robot (H2R) communications systems, where humans can control real or virtual objects remotely over the Internet with ultra-low latency and ultra-high reliability. The overarching goal of the lab is to foster research activities that provide a deeper understanding of how machines (AI agents, robots) can help humans solve hard problems by using machines as complements for humans, rather than substitutes.


Smart Grid Infrastructure

The smart grid lab is a scaled-down low-voltage 13-node power distribution network used for developing and analyzing various new smart grid solutions. Network parameters, such as resistance and inductance, are scaled down by using a per unit approach. Multiple power metrics (voltage, current, etc.) are periodically sensed at the sub-second level at each node, whereby local consumption is controlled by means of nanocomputers and fiber-wireless communications technologies. The set-up can be used to investigate coordinated and distributed smart grid algorithms, e.g., plug-in electric vehicle charging or smart microgrid coordination algorithms.


The Optical Zeitgeist Laboratory is available to Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre faculty, students, and staff for their research projects, with the lab manager’s authorization.

Lab resources can also be used for external collaborations or research and development contracts. Contact us for more information.

Here are a few examples of research projects carried out at the Optical Zeitgeist Laboratory:


Toward 6G: The Internet of No Things

Future 6G networks should not only explore more spectrum at high-frequency bands but, more importantly, help converge upcoming technological trends such as multisensory extended reality (XR), connected social robots, human-machine interaction, and blockchain technology. This project will explore the so-called Internet of No Things, with its human-oriented services that appear when needed and disappear when not needed. The goal of the Internet of No Things is to help make the paradigm shift “from 5G engineering to 6G humanity,” as envisioned in the world’s first 6G White Paper.


Ethereum: Decentralized Applications and Autonomous Organizations

The objective of this research project is to combine the capabilities of Ethereum blockchain and emerging tactile Internet technologies to build a truly distributed P2P architecture capable of adopting resilient, autonomous, and decentralized control for tactile Internet applications. This project will also promote interaction between humans, machines, and smart contracts. We believe the outcomes of this research will lead to significant transformations across multiple industries and open up new challenges and business opportunities that will revolutionize our digital world.


Artificial Intelligence–based Mobile Edge Computing

Two-level cloud-cloudlet architectures leverage both centralized and distributed cloud resources and services, whereby the cloudlet infrastructure is typically based on data-centric FiWi access networking technologies. Cooperative automation is a key feature that is expected to enhance unified FiWi and Het-Net networks by means of artificial intelligence (AI)–based mobile edge computing (MEC) capabilities. This research project will address the key obstacles to enabling AI-based MEC in FiWi-enhanced 4G networks in order to meet key design requirements such as ultra-low latency. Moreover, TensorFlow, an open source machine-learning library, will be used to achieve collaborative automation as an important stepping stone toward human-robot symbiosis.

The Optical Zeitgeist Laboratory has received funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and its Leadership Fund, as well as from the Quebec Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport (MELS).


Martin Maier
Professor and Scientific leader
Phone: 514-228-7024


Optical Zeitgeist Laboratory

Institut national de la recherche scientifique

Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre

800 de la Gauchetière W, Suite 6900

Montreal, Quebec  H5A 1K6


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Zeitgeist Laboratory Website