Augmented reality and virtual reality sure have been two trending technologies that almost every enterprise is looking into incorporating in their operations. But the world hasn’t actually managed to push through its full capability just yet. But with the new 5G connectivity, developers are sure they can change the way we live.
Just recently, Gartner released a report stating that in the next years, over 100 million consumers are expecting to shop with AR and VR technologies. The business advisory company then predicted that more retailers will use AR and VR apps to shake up the customer experience.
This has, however, been a struggle in the past years, mainly because AR and VR environments need huge amounts of data and fast connectivity for optimum performance. And the solution that experts are looking at is the 5G connectivity.
The higher throughput of 5G network is said to be necessary in cloud streaming VR and AR contents. With an access to 5G getting easier and more common, it may be that AR and VR will go mainstream with it.
The 5G network just launched this April and its capabilities reportedly can support multiple uses such as real-time rendering for immersive video, shorter download times and extension of brands and shopping experiences beyond stores.
Following this, both Verizon and AT&T already launched mobile 5G networks and are ready to deliver more powerful AR and VR experiences to online shoppers of IKEA and other retailers.
Experts claim 5G is engineered for massive bandwidth, and will deliver faster and more reliable mobile connections than the previous generations of connectivity. According to a report, Verizon’s Senior VP of Strategy, Toby Redshaw says it’s a “quantum step forward” in wireless technology. He continued:
“You’ll see things today that simply aren’t possible without 5G that I think are going to revolutionize a whole series of consumer experiences and how business is operating.
It’s going to going to kind of enable a lot of new functionality – for businesses, for cities, for education, for healthcare.”
But the real technology that will benefit from the 5G network is believed to be the augmented reality.
The 5G network is said to be essential to the future of augmented reality. Augmented reality is predicted to be much bigger than virtual reality. It is not just used in games like Pokemon Go or for Snapchatting. Many industries rely on augmented reality for improving their operations and employee productivity. Commercial, automotive, industrial and healthcare sectors already use augmented reality through interactive AR devices for planning, trainings and operations.
The founder and CEO of the NY-based computer vision and spatial computing software company Evercoast, Ben Nunez, says the technology will “really change how people interact, how they consume content, how they engage with products, and brands, and even each other.”
Several companies are now upgrading with the 5G network in their operations. Evercoast, for instance, is showing off its “virtual fitting room,” which captures video of a person using 16 high-definition cameras from 180 degrees, then delivers that in 3D form to VR goggles or a looking glass display, so they can put themselves in different outfits and settings.
The AR glasses developer, ThirdEye, boasts its smart glasses that use augmented reality and mixed reality software to provide remote help, now with 5G connectivity. The glasses are now faster in delivering instructions on how to provide medical treatment for an injured person.
Lastly, Envrmnt, the XR arm of Verizon, is building technologies that will exploit the latency and bandwidth advances of 5G networks. It has developed an AR powered object recognition tool that allows customers to get product details and reviews instantly, just by holding their smartphones up to the grocery store shelf.
Some of this tech is already being consumers by people in the U.S. while others are yet to be deployed.
More 5G Involvement on AR VR
Currently, the chip maker company Qualcomm is promoting a platform for smartphone-powered virtual and augmented reality headsets that rely on 5G networks, alongside partners like Acer, LG, and Sprint. Qualcomm just announced this effort at the Mobile World Congress, saying it would help push phone-powered VR and AR headsets onto the market this year.
Qualcomm is set to create an “XR-optimized” certification program for mobile phones using its Snapdragon 855 processors. So far, two VR goggles will support this program – the Acer OJO and the Nreal Light mixed reality glasses. More products are said to use the program including Pico.
How 5G Improves AR VR Experience
5G was initially introduced to the world in 2018 but it was not until earlier this year when companies were able to produce hardware products using the connectivity. Intel, Sprint, and T-Mobile were among those who announced their 5G plans for 2018.
But why is 5G technology so important to AR and VR?
Experts believe that 5G connectivity will open the floodgates of mass adoption. When it happens, it will finally allow people to use VR and AR to its full capacity.
1. 5G Reduces Latency
In a research conducted by ABI Research:
“This is where 5G’s significantly faster speeds and lower latency will come to the fore. We anticipate that 5G will bring about ‘a 10X improvement in throughout, a 10X decrease in latency, a 100X improvement in traffic capacity, and a 100X improvement in network efficiency’ over 4G.” The new speed that comes with this decrease in latency is going to change everything.
5G network would reduce the wait time to seconds.”
With this speed, latency is actually almost discarded. AR and VR will run super efficiently without lag time which is very important to industries like medicine that rely on AR for critical operations.
2. Improves Connection
AR has already invaded our mobile devices but it needs a solid connection to work optimally. Remember how Pokemon Go users complained about glitches? It was running on 4G. Now imagine it running on 5G which is exponentially more powerful than 4G.
According to Huawei, “A 5G network provides up to a million connections per square kilometer. This will bring an exponential increase in the number of connections.”
A basic example of this is your wifi. Connectivity becomes poor when more devices are connected to one single modem. More devices on the network will create a need for more connections – something that we cannot do with 4G. Hence, with 5G, more devices can be supported and AR and VR apps will that needs heavy connectivity will still operate smoothly.
3. Increased Traffic Capacity
5G network will usher to millions of new devices that will change the quality of life of users. However, it is a requirement to have a strong network connection to handle all the new traffic.
According to Qualcomm, 5G can offer a 100X improvement in traffic capacity compared to 4G connectivity. For businesses and individuals to take full advantage of VR and AR every single day, this improved traffic capacity is a must. A network that is overloaded with traffic will create latency that VR and AR simply cannot withstand.
4. More Bandwidth Equals Better Quality Screens
The wider the bandwidth, the faster your internet is. VR and AR needs internet and it hates lags. Screens and the equipment required to run VR and AR will require speeds and bandwidth that 4G does not offer.
According to Spectrum:
“One way to get around that problem (lack of bandwidth) is to simply transmit signals on a whole new swath of the spectrum, one that’s never been used for mobile service before. That’s why providers are experimenting with broadcasting on millimeter waves, which use higher frequencies than the radio waves that have long been used for mobile phones.”
5G uses frequencies of 30 to 300 GHz compared to previous bands that have below 6 GHz. Increased bandwidth will be required to ensure connections are not lost and speed remains at a high level for the best VR and AR screen quality. It cannot be done without 5G.
Indeed, 5G has the ability to make VR and AR a mainstream reality for the world. It will greatly improve screen and equipment quality, increased traffic capacity, improved connection speeds and for latency to be almost nonexistent.