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How will 5G impact everyday experiences?

26 November 2019
person sitting on grey floor with cloudy background with stars, holding hand up towards a white light

Rory Byrne, Business Director, Immersive Studio, explains low latency, thin clients and the reasons why 5G will change our relationship with everyday experiences.

This article first appeared on Shots.

The hype surrounding 5G has been pretty extraordinary with some claiming that it will change the whole world for the better. OK, some of these claims are rooted in fact, but it’s hard to get your head around them unless you really understand the nuts and bolts of what 5G is and why it’s not simply a 4G upgrade.

Explaining 5G; low latency and high bandwidth

The two key principles behind 5G are low latency and high bandwidth. Low latency is the time between interaction and output, ie, the time it takes between an action and a result. High bandwidth is the amount of information you can send at one time. It’s these two principles that you always need to keep in mind when talking about 5G. This ability to send a huge amount of information instantly will allow us to solve challenges that we have in the world today and come up with solutions that would have previously been impossible.

How will this change everyday experience?

5G is not a magic pill. What the low latency and high bandwidth really means is that every person has a new and more efficient way to gain information from cloud computing, where a huge amount of information can be delivered to a relatively ‘dumb’ device such as your ‘smart’ phone or tablet. In real terms, this means that all anyone will actually need to access a potential new wealth of technology is a screen, which could make expensive hardware purchases based on the capability of the device something of the past. These new devices are called ‘thin clients’ and a whole new industry will be formed around them.

Thin clients will become an access point to new services and products; it is a skeleton key to the fourth industrial revolution and how we interact with these thin clients will dramatically change. At the moment we are still interacting with technology in the same way we have since the 60s, via a screen, mouse and keyboard (yes touchpads/interactive screens, but the principle is the same). We are still being forced to be technology-literate, 5G will allow us to build hardware and services that are people-literate, allowing us to communicate over and with technology in the same way that we communicate with each other, voice, touch, smell etc..

This is where immersive technology plays a role, as all devices will be thin clients capable of streaming services which are streaming from the cloud, giving us the most realistic VR experience or being able to deliver spatially mapped AR content to every corner of the globe via the AR cloud. The AR cloud offers a whole new platform for experience. It could be seen as the next internet, an internet that is spatially mapped against our real world. This is where the magic really starts to happen.

But what could it do?

  • AR cloud: A truly new platform; a spatially mapped digital playground onto the physical world.

  • AR advertising: Adverts and experiences that react to you in the real world.

  • True AR wayfinding: A spatially mapped AR layer to the real world, showing you where to find a retailer or guiding you step by step to a friend’s house or event, allowing that friend to draw their own bespoke sign posts displayed via AR.

  • Interactive sports experiences: AR overlays on sports experiences, delivering data-led predictions and content and AR dioramas that show you the position of players/vehicles in real time so you don’t miss a thing.

  • Real time live event experience: AR overlays on live experiences or best-in-seat experiences where you decide the camera angle from home.

  • Gaming: Cloud-rendered gaming experiences and real-world multi-user gaming experiences; think Pokemon Go, but on steroids.

'5G ready'

With 5G in its infancy, you could surmise that we are still in the ‘HD-ready’ stage of the technology, as the infrastructure is still being rolled out. Soon, new services and platforms will harness this technology and then we will really start to see a profound effect on everyday experiences.