Augmented/Virtual Reality and 5G

Terry Williams
14 February

How will Augmented and Virtual Reality Technology be impacted by 5G? It seems to only open more doors for the growing industry.

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Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash


Don’t get me wrong, I love New York. But one of the most painful memories I have of living there is traveling to work each day. Since the entrance to the parkway only accommodated one car at a time, there was always a queue of irritated drivers waiting their turn. Once on the two-lane parkway, things didn’t get much better. Drivers were subjected to stop-and-go traffic for miles. Tempers flared as drivers leaned on their horns and cut each other off in the futile hope of making it to work on time. Ah, such fond memories!

But I didn’t write this to relieve this hideous experience. It’s to make a point about 5G. We can think of the congested parkway that barely accommodates its traffic as 4G. To be fair, 4G does a creditable job as long as it’s not expected to manage too much data (like rush hour traffic).

What Is 5G

According to Kyla Ismail in CMS Wire , 5G wireless broadband represents the 5th generation of mobile cellular networks and promises speeds ten to twenty times faster than today’s 4G cellular networks. Ismail cited Tim Sherwood, VP of Mobile Strategy at Tata Communications, who said that the 5th generation wireless networks will provide greater speed, lower latency, and the ability to connect several devices at once.

5G allows more devices to do more and, overall, better work.

What Does 5G Have To Do With AR/VR

The higher throughput of 5G enables devices to handle huge amounts of data from things as mundane as a refrigerator and as uncommon as self-driving cars — in other words 5G allows more devices to do more, and overall better, work.

David Roe from CMS Wire, cites research from Mangala Bhattacharjee, senior marketing manager at Research on Global Markets, which indicates that the initial implementation of AR applications at the consumer level (navigation, virtual tourism, immersive gaming) and enterprise level (digital twins for predictive maintenance in the manufacturing sector, remote surgeries for healthcare) will become seamless once 5G networks become widespread.

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Photo by Billetto Editorial on Unsplash

Current Status Of 5G In The United States

According to Thomas Duesterberg of Forbes, Huawei, the Chinese multinational technology company, has the advantage of being able to outcompete and move ahead of American companies such as Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung. Reasons for this frontrunner status in the 5G race include: the company being subsidized by China, the superior scale of its business model and the fact that it has had a head start in Europe and Asia.

By 2020, 46% of retailers planned to deploy either AR or VR solutions to meet customer service experience requirements.

Duesterberg stated that some of the reasons 5G has not gained a foothold in this country include the capital costs of installing the needed 5G infrastructure and software upgrades and security issues related to Huawei’s 5G system.

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Photo by Alexandre Debiève on Unsplash

ack here in the US, Lifewire indicates that big carriers such as Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have 5G service in designated areas. For instance, Verizon offers 5G in areas of Houston Texas, Sacramento, California, Indianapolis, Indiana, Los Angeles, California and Chicago, Illinois.

From the retailer and consumer’s points of view, it would seem that 5G couldn’t arrive soon enough. Gartner, a research and advisory company, estimates that by 2020, 46% of retailers planned to deploy either AR or VR solutions to meet customer service experience requirements. With VR’s immersive interfaces, retailers can create task efficiencies or reduce the costs associated with designing new products. They can also enhance the understanding of information through advanced graphical visualization and simulation technologies.

Pilots and implementation examples include Alibaba’s full VR shopping experience, virtual reality tours by Tesco, Adidas’ VR video to promote its outdoor clothing collection, and eBay’s Australia’s partnerships with Myer to create personalized stores.