We’re building an ecosystem to shape technologies with the power and reach to help address global challenges and engage citizens for the greater good.
We operate in a world where virtually anything can be connected to the internet. This Internet of Things (IoT) intersects countless areas of our lives, connecting sensors in our cars as well as utility meters, household appliances and much more. Focusing research and development to help solve social challenges — such as improving mobility and efficiency — gives us an opportunity to grow our business while contributing positively to society.
AT&T is helping companies of all sizes develop IoT solutions that can lower costs, gain efficiencies and attract new customers. While IoT can help businesses gain a competitive advantage, it can also help address major social and environmental challenges in our world, such as:
- Improving people’s quality of life;
- Helping communities become cleaner, safer and stronger;
- Improving people’s health, safety and mobility;
- Utilizing resources more effectively and improving productivity;
- Improving energy and water efficiency; and
- Reducing waste and carbon emissions.
To learn more about our environmental efforts, please see our Climate Change issue brief.
- Innovating for Today & Tomorrow
IoT solutions have the power and reach to address global challenges and engage citizens for the greater good. These solutions can also help AT&T succeed in the competitive marketplace, attract employee talent and enhance the reputation of our brand.
Through our IoT for Good initiative, we highlight multiple industry focus areas and solutions that can transform the ways we — and our customers — care for society and the planet. We work to collaboratively develop solutions that demonstrate positive impacts in the areas of health, accessibility, disaster relief and more. Examples include:
- WaveGuide is a breakthrough technology that equips handheld micro-nuclear magnetic resonance devices with AT&T Global SIM cards to facilitate the transmission of medical data in near real-time. Use of the data for early diagnosis and intervention helps improve patient outcomes and reduce costs, and could help prevent disease outbreaks from becoming pandemics.
- Connected Health Technologies powered by IoT may become essential to mass-deliver personalized care and help older adults live fulfilling and independent lives. Remote monitoring devices, connected health wearables, Mobile Personal Emergency Response Systems (MPERS) and personal healthcare companions are all examples of technologies that can greatly help the elderly. AT&T is working with many health device manufacturers and technology providers to connect these solutions to the IoT and deliver the care that this population crucially needs.
- Hanger, Inc., a leading provider of orthotic and prosthetic patient services and solutions, worked with the AT&T Foundry to develop a proof-of-concept for the industry’s first standalone, network-connected device for prosthetic limbs. The prototype, designed to attach to below-the-knee prostheses, is simple and highly mobile as it syncs directly to the cloud via the AT&T network without relying on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or a separate mobile device. This connectivity allows clinicians to monitor patients’ prosthetic usage beyond the clinical setting. Equipped with these insights, clinicians can proactively contact patients to address potential issues impacting prosthetic usage, such as fit and comfort, to enhance mobility.
- Aira is a developer of transformative, assistive technologies that connect blind and low-vision individuals to a network of highly-trained agents. Agents — equipped with an AI-powered dashboard — receive a live video stream through either a camera on a smartphone or through a camera embedded in a pair of Aira’s wearable smart glasses. In a new solution developed jointly with the AT&T Foundry, Aira’s artificial intelligence platform “Chloe™” can correctly identify prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, among other voice-activated tasks. All AT&T retail locations across the U.S. are now Aira Access Locations, meaning any member of the blind and low-vision community with a smartphone can download the free Aira app, create an account and use the service for free while in our stores. Aira has also expanded its services to Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
- Softbox and AT&T collaborated on a solution that uses drones to successfully and safely deliver temperature-sensitive medicines in times of humanitarian disaster relief. An LTE-connected drone carrying Softbox’s “Skypod” thermal-insulated packaging system, which includes a smart box powered by AT&T IoT technology, successfully completed demonstration flights in 2018, in locations across Puerto Rico. AT&T and Softbox adapted the Skypod from a connected flask prototype showcased early in 2018 at the AT&T Foundry.
We recognize the opportunity that smart cities can have to make urban living more accessible for everyone, but especially the elderly and disabled persons. In 2017, we released the white paper “Smart Cities For All: A Vision for an Inclusive, Accessible Urban Future” to highlight the potential smart city technology has for people who are aging and people who are living with disabilities, and to detail practices for building more inclusive smart cities.
In September 2018, AT&T launched a new project, “Inclusive Innovation for Smarter Cities,” collaborating with Smart Cities for All alongside organizations G3ict and World Enabled. The project convenes leaders from government, industry and disability organizations to generate ideas and tools that define how urban innovation ecosystems can create more inclusive apps and technology solutions that positively impact the lives of all people in cities.
As part of the project, Smart Cities for All led roundtable discussions in both New York and Chicago, engaging entrepreneurs and innovation experts across the U.S. and worldwide. The project draws on the experience and insights of leading accessibility, innovation and disability professionals to create resources for cities. Smart Cities for All aims to produce a clear understanding of how urban innovation ecosystems focus on inclusion today. The project will also develop a set of principles and a roadmap for how cities can support greater inclusion in the innovation process, scheduled for release in mid-2019.
Our goal is to leverage the AT&T legacy and culture of innovation to tackle some of the most difficult challenges related to evolving technologies such as 5G, edge computing, artificial intelligence and quantum networking. Departments and programs such as the AT&T Labs, AT&T Foundry, AT&T Intellectual Property Group and The Innovation Pipeline (TIP) will help us succeed.
Our Chief Technology Officer (CTO), who is also president of AT&T Labs, oversees organizations responsible for disruptive and incremental innovation. This culture of innovation is grounded in our Code of Business Conduct which also explains our responsibility to safeguard intellectual property.
Our suppliers also add value to our company with innovation and fresh ideas, frequently sponsoring research and working in our labs and foundry alongside AT&T employees. Many of our supplier agreements promote innovation through models of shared value — such as joint intellectual property agreements or shared revenue.
Some of the world’s best scientists and engineers work at AT&T Labs and focus their unique research capabilities and expertise on our network and anything that uses our network. We work to go beyond today's current solutions to invent disruptive technologies that will drive future innovations. The AT&T Labs research programs are at the tip of the spear in creating advanced technologies in AI and automation, software defined everything, network & customer experience, video & media analytics and open source platforms.
AT&T Labs is focused on driving leadership in open source. To that end, the organization is centered around a concept called “Network AI,” which is the AT&T framework for open source efforts that will drive the company’s software-defined network in 2019 and beyond. AT&T is a founding member of several open source initiatives, including: ONAP, Acumos, Akraino and DANOS.
At the AT&T Foundry, we work with developers, startups, customers and suppliers to bring new solutions to market faster than ever before. By bringing customers into the Foundry, AT&T can connect them with experts in engineering, technology and cybersecurity to co-create solutions tailored to industry-specific needs. Since its launch 8 years ago, the Foundry has championed collaboration on hundreds of proofs-of-concept and prototypes, and many of these projects have evolved into commercial products and services.
The AT&T Foundry represents a collective $250+ million investment, along with technology providers Nokia, Amdocs, Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, Arrow Electronics and Tech Mahindra. The AT&T Foundry has innovation centers in 6 cities around the world: Atlanta; Houston; Palo Alto, Calif.; Plano, Texas; Mexico City and Ra'anana, Israel.
The Innovation Pipeline (TIP)
We built the TIP program, a dynamic online crowdsourcing platform, to tap the collective imagination of our employees with more than 130,000 members from all 50 states and 54 countries. AT&T employees have 24/7 access to submit, vote and collaborate on ideas using the TIP platform. Ideas are refined through real-time feedback from peers. The top ideas are pitched to internal “Angel Investors” — AT&T executives who act as venture capitalists — to determine funding. Ideas are developed into working prototypes by the AT&T Foundry and then placed within an AT&T business unit or launched into the hands of our customers.
Since the TIP program started in 2009, employees have put forth more than 50,000 ideas. More than $45 million in seed funding has been allocated to top projects, and more than 90 projects have landed for development.
AT&T Intellectual Property
AT&T Intellectual Property is one of the world's largest intellectual property operations with a heritage of innovation that dates back more than a century to Alexander Graham Bell. Our patent portfolio is one of the strongest in the telecommunications industry. Our philosophy is to optimally protect AT&T’s intellectual property, respect the intellectual property of others and license or sell AT&T’s intellectual property to others for fostering continued innovation in society. We develop valuable, innovative technologies to create new features and services for customers. AT&T protects its intellectual property with patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets to ensure the company’s IP protection of all aspects of its current and future business operations. AT&T Intellectual Property offers these intellectual properties to other companies through licensing, selling or other arrangements.
AT&T scientists and engineers conduct research in a variety of areas, including IP networking, advanced network design and architecture, network and cyber security, network operations support systems, satellite technology, video platform development and data analytics. The majority of the development activities are performed to create new services and to invent tools and systems to manage secure and reliable networks for us and our customers. Research and development investments were $1.194 billion in 2018, $1.503 billion in 2017 and $1.649 billion in 2016.
Since the acquisition of WarnerMedia in June 2018 and the launch of Xandr in September 2018, we are continuing to integrate operationally and through our CSR reporting. For this reason, information for these 2 affiliates is not included in this brief, except where specifically referenced.
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