For a little while now you might have heard whispers of a mythical new invention called ‘5G’, something new and exciting to replace 4G and transform the way mobile data and internet work forever.
It’s something that’s been talked about for a while, but at last, it’s a myth no more. Many providers are getting ready to roll out their 5G solutions, with networks including EE, O2, Three and Vodafone all claiming to getting ready to launch later this year.
So today, we wanted to take a look at the realities of 5G coverage, how it’s likely to affect the AR and VR world, and the impact it will have on some of the bigger industries in the UK.
What Is 5G Coverage?
You’ve probably heard of 4G by now – it’s the mobile connectivity solution that makes it possible to connect to the internet on the go.
4G made waves in the late 2000’s by making mobile internet speeds up to 500 times faster than the previous 3G solutions, and opening up support for HD TV, high-quality video calls and fast mobile browsing.
4G is now common throughout the world – but it’s about to understand what 3G felt like. 5G is essentially the next generation of mobile internet connectivity. 5G is smarter, faster and more efficient than 4G.
It promises mobile data speeds that outstrip even the fastest home broadband connections currently available, and is set to be 100 times faster too. Move over 4G, there’s a new kid in town.
How Will 5G Impact VR & AR?
One of the biggest differences between 4G and 5G service is low latency. Latency is the time that passes from the moment information is sent from a device until it is ready to be used by the receiver.
High latency means the user has to wait a long time, and might end up with a ‘buffering’ message, or even the dreaded ‘wheel of death’ while they wait for something to load. Low latency on the other hand means the connection is very fast and can feel instant.
You click on a link, and it opens right away, just like it would if you were at home with your super-fast broadband. This is important because VR and AR technologies rely on a low latency environment to provide a seamless virtual experience.
Without it, visuals and audio might get broken up and ruin the immersion of the experience. Low latency also allows for 4K quality video over mobile, which means VR environments can be rendered in super-high quality.
At the moment, both AR & VR technologies perform at their best when they are hooked into a super-fast broadband connection.
This allows them to access a low-latency, high-speed and high-bandwidth environment – which is everything VR and AR need to run properly. But with 5G, you should be able to take VR and AR anywhere and still have it run as quickly and smoothly as ever.
VR has been proven time and time again to have huge benefits in the healthcare industry. It can reduce chronic pain by 25%, reduce time spent in hospital and allows doctors to simulate surgeries that would normally be limited to the staff performing the operations.
But at the moment, top of the line VR technologies are limited by being wired into computers, making it inaccessible to many patients and some doctors in situations where it would help.
Inexpensive VR can be wireless, but the compression used to make this work means it wouldn’t be suitable for a healthcare setting. With 5G, high-end VR will finally be able to go wireless and provide the mobility both doctors and patients need it to provide.
The travel industry has spent the last 5-10 years moving slowly away from a ‘bricks and mortar’ industry into a ‘bricks and clicks’ one.
Online engagement and embracing of new technologies has transformed the way tourists interact with travel, from bookings to experiences.
High-quality mobile 5G could help travel businesses provide immersive content that uses VR and AR technologies to enhance a visitor’s experience, help them immerse themselves in a location before deciding to book, or access ‘hidden gems’ they might not have otherwise discovered.
- Fast Moving Consumer Goods: Both VR and AR could be used in retail to create more intense consumer experiences, which is among one of the biggest drivers in the world of digital commerce today. But so far the opportunity has been overlooked.
With 5G capabilities, retailers could entice buyers to take a second look at their brands, using it as a way to connect specific visuals with their brands in customers minds, and encouraging sales at the same time.
Last year saw a boom in brands using VR in this way, including UK clothing retailer Topshop, which used it to take shoppers on a waterslide through central London. Being able to do this in a home setting, in a shop front or even on a pop-up stand means better sales capabilities and better brand recognition across the board.
The BIG but…
Mobile devices will be the biggest benefactor with 5G. However, as all those who have been playing with AR apps for the last 2 years will appreciate all too well, AR and phone batteries don’t tend to get along!
Hardware, and especially battery life will need to become far more reliable before we all start embracing the plethora of true opportunities AR can bring to our daily lives. Therefore expect the mobile device manufacturers to focus in on battery life as a key improvement area… with whoever solving that problem taking the lion’s share of the market!
At Orbital Media, we couldn’t be more excited about this new progress in the world of VR and AR.
We firmly believe that 5G will be the breakout development needed to bring VR and AR into mainstream use on both the consumer and commercial side, making VR and AR accessible to everyone.
If you’d like to know more about the applications of AR or VR for your business, just get in touch with the team today.