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Volumetric displays that show everyone in a room 3D video from any angle, without VR headgear. Micropositioning apps that guide shopping center visitors to stores with the accuracy of street-level maps. Telesurgical suites that let surgeons operate on patients all over the world with the same precision as they would in person. These are just some of the advances around the corner thanks to new cellular networks powered by 5G.
5G is the fifth generation of cellular telecommunications technology, and it promises a leap forward in bandwidth and response time. Today’s LTE networks, for example, clock in at a maximum of 300 megabits per second. They carry a latency—that is, the time to receive a response to a query sent to a remote server—of about 50 milliseconds. 5G networks, in contrast, could enable a top speed of 10 gigabits per second with just a millisecond of latency. That’s enough bandwidth to download a standard-definition movie in four seconds, and low enough latency to allow practically instantaneous communications over the internet.
The possibilities for 5G are only just being realized as mobile carriers roll out service around the world. And data centers will play a vital role in realizing its full potential. That’s why we’ve named it one of the top ten cloud technologies changing the world.
Jason Yim, CEO of Trigger Global, gave us his insights into just a few of the implications of 5G.
3D pictures and video have long been available via glasses or goggles that send 2D images with slightly different perspectives to each eye to create the illusion of three dimensions. It’s generally a solitary experience, with each viewer required to don his or her own headgear.
Volumetric displays, on the other hand, bring science fiction to life with devices that occupy a volume of physical space, like a three-dimensional TV. Viewers can watch together, at any angle, with the perspective shifting for each viewer.
The higher bandwidth offered by 5G will bring today’s experimental technology out of the lab and into the mainstream, says Yim. “As bandwidth improves with 5G and costs of authoring go down, we expect to see a proliferation of volumetric 3D content.”
Yim envisions the day when navigating large indoor spaces such as shopping centers and airports will be as easy as following GPS-enabled street maps. 5G’s high bandwidth and low latency will make it possible.
“I think the initial game changer for all businesses will be accurate indoor positioning with the help of micropositioning.” This positioning, says Yim, will guide users not just to a storefront, but also allow them to navigate to specific products inside.
Connectivity at Events
Another area Yim sees ripe for 5G-powered innovation is enhanced social media interactions at stadium-level events. “5G will play the critical role of just providing a base level of connectivity inside a venue that we normally take for granted outside of a live event,” says Yim. In other words, higher bandwidth will prevent the slowdowns that typically plague areas of heavy internet use.
“However, 5G can also unlock experiences that were not possible before—experiences that tie in real-time statistics and data because of the reduction of latency,” says Yim. That could include experiences involving high-quality 3D video and real-time game stats, and even real-time video of crowd reactions.
In our post on Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), we talked about how AR will transform everything from teleconferencing to medicine. 5G will take AR to a whole new level, says Yim.
“Processing in the cloud will elevate AR away from single-use experiences,” he says. “Natural-language processing AI will allow you to talk directly to characters.” At the same time, “Cloud-based rendering will fill the real world with photo-realistic and accurately lit 3D content.”
Infrastructure for Growth
As 5G networks start what is expected to be a years-long roll out, mobile network providers and data centers are ramping up for the tsunami of data that will soon stream through our cities and towns.
T5 Data Centers, for example, is nearly tripling its staff in 2019 to build and operate new data centers. “After building data centers for more than a decade, we are seeing changes in the market,” says Pete Marin, President and CEO of T5 Data Centers. “We are adapting our operation and scaling to meet the evolving needs of our customers.”
This will be especially important with the advent of another cloud technology on the (literal) horizon: internet everywhere, the subject of our next post on transformative cloud technologies.