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The high-speed 5G networks could change the way we use our cell phones, allowing us to enjoy virtual reality on the street, make interactive live broadcasts and even project holograms from our devices.
But will continuous connection and high costs be an impediment for us to benefit from that technology?
Holograms have always been something of science fiction: think of the scene of “Star Wars” in which the R2-D2 robot transmits a holographic message of Princess Leia to the air.
Now imagine that you can project Leia from your smartphone or tablet anytime or anywhere.
Richard Foggie, a Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) specialist, says that could be possible in the next five years thanks to the arrival of 5G mobile networks, which will allow some devices to handle large amounts of data at high speeds .
“At this time, some kind of helmet or closed ‘cave’ is required to see holograms,” Foggie recalls.
“But in five years I think we will see augmented reality and virtual sprouting directly from our phones,” he predicts.
“You could use it to project videos, play video games, use industrial applications or make holographic calls.”
The experiments are already in process. Last year, telecommunications giants Verizon and Korean Telecom (KT) carried out what they defined as “the first international live holographic call in the world” .
And they did thank you while testing the 5G technology.
During the test a KT employee in Seoul, Korea, chatted with a live hologram of a Verizon employee in New Jersey, USA, who appeared on a monitor at the KT offices.
Although both firms described the test as a test in its “initial stage,” KT said it is working on marketing holographic video calls, in which users “are left with a person from a remote area in size and in real time .”
And in the UK Vodafone is planning a live demonstration on a holographic call to test 5G technology and see the potential it has.
Another change, at least in theory, is that the 5G may allow us to interact in real time on the web, eliminating the delay that is obtained with tools such as Skype at speeds below 4G.
Last year, Mischa Dohler, professor of wireless communications at King’s College in London, United Kingdom, demonstrated what it would be like to do a live concert with his daughter in 5G.
She sang from London while he accompanied him from Berlin, 1,000 km away, with an end-to-end delay of only 20 milliseconds.
“You could have a virtual audience watching a game or a live event,” says Jon Kingsbury, of Immerse UK, an organization that researches virtual and augmented reality issues.
“People could also collaborate and work together in immersive environments or make virtual conferences,” he says.
More Pokémon Go and “smart tourism”
Kingsbury also believes that the 5G will improve mobile video calls, facilitating higher quality images.
Its greater bandwidth will allow you to enjoy high-definition virtual reality and augmented reality experiences on our cell phones and tablets, something that was not possible with 4G.
“If you use virtual reality nowadays you have to stay at home with your helmet and your console, but 5G will allow you to use it on the outside, ” says Kingsbury.
He is skeptical, however, about the idea of people starting to wear virtual reality helmets on the street. But he believes that it will be used for training and simulations in sectors such as engineering and health.
And consumers will also see much more “immersive” content, as they will be able to move and interact with it.
In practice, this could be translated, for example, into more sophisticated Pokémon Go games and “intelligent tourism” with superimposed images projected from smartphones .
The 5G will not only be much faster than 4G, says Howard Jones, director of communication networks at the British mobile company EE, but also many people can use it simultaneously without slowing down.
“It will be like when we went from 3G to 4G and the service became much more reliable, and when you have a network with good capacity and speed, application developers start doing things for those characteristics.”
That could be especially beneficial in live events and broadcasts, he explains.
“With the 5G anyone in a stadium can use applications, not just a few.”
“You could also go further and become your own producer, you can have access to everything you produce, including shots from a bird’s eye view or from behind the goalpost or bench,” he adds.
And going back to the holograms., They are not yet a reality, but they are getting closer and closer.
Although we will have to wait a bit … and not all are advantages .
According to Dimitra Simeonidou, professor of high-performance networks at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom, it is possible that many people can not afford it.
That means that some companies will take time to invest in new applications or simply charge more for accessing 5G content (and for making holographic calls).
“Even though the 5G arrived in 2019, I do not think we have these services really on our phones until 2021, ” explains the academic.