This article first appeared on New Digital Age, written by Global Creative Technology Director, Simon Levitt.
In general, articles discussing 5G come in two types: the first are trend-led pieces waxing lyrical about how 5G will change the world overnight; the second err on the side of caution, urging brands to ‘walk’ before they ‘run’ when integrating 5G into their experiences. Sometimes, the latter, stretch the metaphor even further to the ‘hurdles’ they’ll need to overcome.
Both have merit – and are indeed correct – but do little to help brands incorporate 5G into their strategies.
The problem centres on how 5G is discussed – the opportunities and challenges are often without context and there is an inherent issue with the language used (5G implies a technology that is just one better than 4G). Furthermore, people associate 5G with their phones, but 5G can be 100 times faster than 4G and it will not only be connected to phones, but also to vehicles, cities and even toothbrushes!
- Understanding the benefits
One of the biggest challenges we have is helping brands understand the potential of 5G. It is not only about faster downloads but about latency – the speed at which the data travels between two points. 5G can have the same latency as a human’s reaction time, its data can travel between two points as fast as a human can react to that change.
For example, 5G can give you the opportunity to virtually control cameras in real-time at sporting events, and create games in VR with participants in different continents playing in a virtual environment with no perceptible lag.
With this instantaneous connection, the key for creative agencies is to help brands understand the benefits of this technology and conceive the new possibilities it enables in experiences. AT&T, for example, has trialled an augmented reality 5G experience at the Dallas Cowboys stadium where fans, by using their 5G-enabled phones, can see 80ft football players beamed onto the field alongside real-time game statistics.
- The infrastructure is still being built
Another concern is that the 5G infrastructure isn’t ubiquitous across all networks. Sure, you might get a 5G connection in one location but not in all locations. Additionally, not all customers have 5G-enabled phones – so how can brands build ideas and consistent experiences for all their customers? One approach is to create contained, sandboxed 5G experiences.
Creating a sandbox means we don’t have to rely on customers having the latest 5G-enabled phones, or for the 5G network to extend across a country, but we can still build real-time demonstrations of its capabilities in a controlled environment.
Working with Vodafone for example we created the world’s first haptic rugby tackle to demonstrate the 5G network, showing its super-low latency and ability to transmit a lot of data with no time lag. To do this, one rugby player tackled a cylinder containing sensors, 100 miles away another player, wearing a Tesla Haptic suit, felt that tackle’s impact in real-time.