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How 5G Will Redefine Virtual Reality

How 5G redefines virtual reality


The pandemic that our world is currently going through is having a dramatic effect on our everyday lives, and the importance of digital technologies and services is growing as a result. For instance, we suddenly see an increase in the need for connectivity services, online collaboration tools, and quick and secure data access – be it from the workplace, home, or anywhere in between.

Virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) are two technological innovations that offer substantial advantages in this new digital reality. These new innovations open up new ways of doing things in fields such as manufacturing, entertainment, advertising, transportation and healthcare, allowing for both improved efficiency and entirely new user experiences.

The ConsumerLab merged reality report by Ericsson found that seven out of ten early adopters anticipate AR and VR to radically transform daily life. Additionally, VR and AR applications present service providers with new opportunities and business models. The convergence of 5G access networks, emerging application shaping factors, 5G core distributed high-performance technologies, and edge computing is what brings these emerging use cases to life.

The Technologies Driving the Evolution of 5G

Evolution in the telecommunications industry has always occurred to take advantage of advanced, improved technologies when they became available – starting with 1G, progressing into 4G, and leading to 5G today. The reality is that 5G would increase the speed with which technology is deployed.

Technologies such as automation, virtualization, network slicing, cloud native, AI, machine learning, and edge computing are essential components that facilitate the business models and use cases expected to come with 5G. Such technologies will lead to the improved performance, greater efficiency, high-dependability, and low latency offered by 5G, all of which are offered at low total ownership costs (TCO). This combination of low TCO and high performance is critical in managing both the rapid growth in data traffic and the growing number of IoT devices.

How 5G Could Transform the AR and VR Development Landscape

Widespread implementation of 5G mobile networks will facilitate the proliferation of virtual and augmented reality. However, greater availability is not the only prerequisite for AR and VR to succeed with 5G; credible applications are still needed to make these technologies practical. However, the inclusion of 5G provides developers with a wider scope to create new experiences.

Priority for the initial 5G NR requirements was based on Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) that offers faster upload and download speeds and significantly lower latency than 4 G LTE. Although eMBB requirements in 5G NR are advantageous to all content delivery applications — such as mobile VR and AR, along with 360 ° and 4K video streaming — the greatest advantages of 5 G for VR and AR are still not completely realized.

Ultra Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC) is a 5G NR feature specification planned to be officially released by 3GPP — the regulatory body for 5G NR—in Release 16 in mid-2020. URLLC is intended for task-critical instances susceptible to latency, like remote surgery powered by robots and self-driving cars / autonomous vehicles. URLLC sets latency to 1ms. To put things into perspective, the July 2019 US Mobile Network Experience report by Openmsignal finds that latency on LTE networks is 55.1ms on Sprint, 48.6ms on AT&T, 54.0ms on Verizon, and 51.6ms on T-Mobile.

Although typical 5G latencies are expected to be reasonably greater than those established by implementation specifications (1ms should be deemed a best-case scenario measure), there is sufficient scope for 5G URLLC to increase latency rates. For instance, high latencies between activity and response— especially for head movements — may trigger headaches for VR headsets users. Combating this allows for broader usage of AR and VR, and possibly for extended times, until users need to take a rest.

The Impact of 5G on the Availability of AR and VR Applications

The implementation of 5G mobile networks is presently in its initial stages. It is also faced with major hurdles to practical use in device environments, compounding uncertainty for VR and AR applications. Secondly, the 5G networks are not all equal. For instance, while implementations in Asian countries depend on sub-6 GHz radio frequencies, the majority of US 5G networks are millimeter-wave (mmWave) networks.

While mmWave radio frequencies have higher data speeds, they are generally line-of-sight, making it possible that users will lose connectivity when they meet barriers such as big buildings. This can restrict the usefulness of AR applications in cities.

5G would offer greater versatility in use cases. AR is widely used on tablets or smartphones to display additional exhibits in museums or for interior design, enabling shoppers to digitally position furniture in a room to see how it fits. With 5G, the potential to use AR in live, open environments away from secure Wi-Fi signals can affect developers’ modes of communications and integrations.

How the Combination of 5G and Edge Technology Can Help Redefine the Retail Experience

Whether a customer scrolls on a mobile or browses in a brick-and-mortar store, retail is undeniably in the midst of a big change. From drone delivery to virtual reality in malls, what once was the stuff of fantasy or science fiction is rapidly becoming a reality thanks to the network’s amplified edge, and soon, 5 G technology. The digital revolution affects demand and supply in retail, including manufacturing, logistics, robots, drones, and augmented reality.

How 5G Enhances the Customer Experience

Retailers use digital innovations to improve in-store service, better understand and anticipate consumer preferences, and build a more consistent experience for consumers switching between in-store and online platforms.

Smart Retail allows a consumer’s experience in a brick and mortar store or an online environment to be customized using information about the habits and interests of that consumer. As data volume increases, the high bandwidth and low latency capabilities of 5G becomes crucial.

Today, the targeting standard is relatively common – like a supermarket providing a discount to a consumer who recently bought a product in-store or browsed the retailer’s website. Due to Wi-Fi access points and Bluetooth beacons, retailers can send updates to an app when a consumer is close to a target spot.

In the near future, data will empower retailers to be more accurate and advanced. For instance, facial recognition technology may recognize a customer when they enter the store or through integrated facial recognition in a retailer app and evaluate information about past visits to a store within the chain tallied with demographics, web search, and other related trends. After this, the retailer may suggest similar items or offers to that customer. This degree of customization would involve accelerated extraction of various sources of external data.

5G is also critical for enhanced locational accuracy. For instance, instead of just noticing a customer spent time in the shop, a retailer could learn that a customer went through a retail outlet and spent time gazing at items in the display. The existing network isn’t strong enough to completely leverage these possibilities. With current technologies, the amount of data available cannot be retrieved and analyzed fast enough to accommodate this degree of customization and personalization.

Using 5G and Augmented Reality to Enable Interactive Experiences

Many retailers offer more immersive experiences by playing around with virtual reality, a means of placing on a user’s view of the real world a software-generated image.

For instance, one beauty products manufacturer has introduced “magic mirrors” that analyze the consumer’s face and use the products of the company to digitally offer numerous makeup choices. Another company is experimenting by providing window displays in the shape of “virtual fitting rooms.” Through kinetic technology, passengers can see themselves in the products displayed in the store before they even set a foot inside it.

These smooth, immersive environments depend on the capability of delivering low latency information. Therefore, 5G would help boost the development of augmented reality.

“Mixed reality,” which is activated by 5G, is expected to be popular in the future. This ‘reality’ would enable a customer to know how a paint color would appear on their walls before they even open a can of paint. Similarly, they could find out how a new sofa would fit into their living room before they make the purchase. For these immersive environments, bandwidth and latency are extremely important, making 5G a critical enabler of future AR and VR applications.

The Changed Needed in 5G to Enable Successful AR and VR Applications

Perhaps the greatest problem with current 4G LTE networks is data cost: prepaid services regarded as ‘unlimited’ are usually asphyxiated after 22GB in the United States. Although this is not an added challenge for companies with deep pockets, these restrictions may irk the effort to offer an AR / VR experience directly to customers.

As we have been stating, the latest immersive technologies created by AR and VR will change the way we experience and engage with content from both a customer and an industrial perspective. Creating AR and VR environments, however, isn’t without technological difficulties.

The integration and synchronization of the physical world and the user’s movements with a digital environment involves a large number of visual modeling processes. Because the visual models/graphics need heavy processing, activities on-device are increased by separating tasks between the edge cloud and AR / VR site.

The rendering of visuals on the edge cloud improves latency-sensitive on-device hand scanning, head monitoring, photon processing motion monitoring, and controller tracking. ‘Rendering split’ is the name given to this concept. However, when processing occurs in the cloud rather than a mobile device, you need a simple and secure 5G link to produce the user’s final experience.

Strict infrastructure requirements such as high bandwidth, high reliability, and low latency are required for both VR and AR use cases. Some telecommunication companies have already started designing their core 5G and radio network to deliver an unrivaled, high-quality VR experience for end-users.

Next-Gen Service Delivery with 5G

Holo-Light, a software development company specializing in AR and mixed reality software, identifies the cloud and 5G as the critical technologies needed to meet the high expectations of users from its reality technology.

Although AR and VR typically require some form of a wearable device, emerging technologies do not need any additional hardware. One of the pioneers of virtual reality, KDX, utilizes two eye trackers and a TV screen to offer a 3D experience.

According to Biao Zhang, the president of the company, this technology will be improved by 5G and cloud technology through lower latency, which will allow complex data to be transferred into the cloud – allowing for greater adoption.

Mr. Zhang claims that this technology, as is the case with AR and VR, has many interesting applications outside of entertainment—medical diagnosis, the business world, and the education industry are three examples of this.

The Impact of 5G on User Experiences Will Be Huge

5G would change radically, not just the way media is accessed but also how it is produced. This will provide many customer or user-centric industries with greater access, speed, and mobile bandwidth, enabling unparalleled possibilities for interactive content. By now, we know that 5G can greatly boost latency issues and encourage viewers to experience more profoundly in the moment.

Additionally, greater bandwidth would also offer more control and choice to viewers regarding how they view content in order to keep them involved. For instance, you can expect engaging video streams in the future, which allows users to shift between Ultra HD views of live music or sports experience. The pace 5G offers will also enable content producers to play around with new channels to vary broadcasts and reach greater audiences.

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