5G could make content and media more immersive and responsive than ever through higher bandwidth and lower latency. These changes could enable 8K video streaming, accelerated mobile gaming, and a host of other applications. In this article, I’ll cover four key trends that the next wave of 5G devices might make possible.
1) 5G Unites Augmented and Virtual Reality Under Extended Reality (XR)
You might already be familiar with one popular use of virtual reality (VR) in VR gaming. One major issue with this technology has been tethering. VR headsets have historically been physically connected to a powerful smartphone or PC, in order to fully render video games with minimal lag. It’s been the only way to handle the data processing and storage demands of virtual reality video games. Similarly, augmented reality (AR) goggles – which create layers of digital information on top of real-world objects to create engaging and immersive experiences – require more ubiquitous connectivity that provides high capacity, reliability, and cloud computing capabilities for connected AR devices. But, a reality shift seems inevitable, thanks to recent developments.
Collectively, AR, VR, and mixed reality are being brought together as “extended reality”1, or XR. 5G could lead to tetherless, 5G XR. Users could game with faster scene rendering and highly-immersive gameplay using wireless headsets. They could also use real-world data augmented with digital information to make more informed decisions. The lower latency and higher bandwidth of 5G might further drive the adoption of smaller form factors that provide XR products with a better user experience and longer battery life.
2) 5G Accelerates Mobile Cloud Gaming
It was predicted that, in 2019, 2.4 billion people around the world would play a mobile game2. That’s nearly 1/3 of the entire world’s population. While mobile and MMO gaming are popular, they are not without their challenges – namely player-server-player responsiveness. With 4G, longer latencies have sometimes meant slower and fragmented gameplay, which creates a less than ideal gaming experience. The problem is that mobile games currently rely on a remote cloud server for scene rendering, instead of processing on a user’s local device. This reduces the need for a huge processor on mobile devices and preserves battery life, but leads to increased latency.
5G has the potential to reach latencies of less than ten milliseconds, which would be between four to five times faster than current 4G speeds. With a dedicated 5G network slice along with edge computing, the mobile gaming market could reach an inflection point. It could open new business cases and revenue streams for ads and in-game purchases, along with improved gameplay. Newer cloud-based game streaming services are starting to take 5G connectivity into account. For mobile game developers, the goal is to make mobile gaming ubiquitous across smartphones, tablets, and connected PCs.
3) 5G Enables 8K Video Streaming on Home TVs
Today’s high-end television sets are 8K, but come with a hefty price tag and limited content libraries. Much of the content displayed on 8K displays, as of now, uses artificial intelligence to upscale lower-definition content (such as 4K TV shows or movies) into 8K resolution3. One hurdle has been quickly moving all that frame data – over 33 million pixels for a single frame – through home networks.
Using a 5G connection could alleviate some of these issues with streaming 8K content, and save users from installing an ultra-high-speed, fixed-line home internet connection. Already, some TV suppliers are developing 8K TV sets that are 5G-enabled4. This built-in functionality could make it easier to connect to the broader 5G infrastructure being built out.
4) 360-Degree, Total Field of View Content
Imagine being able to see the full field of view at your favorite football stadium, hockey arena, or basketball court. The crowd is roaring, the opposing team is geared up, and the game is about to be underway. This 360-degree experience could be possible, thanks to the high bandwidth and low latency of 5G. Audiences could watch a game from multiple angles, experiencing in-game situations much more closely to the athletes playing. 360-degree live sports content such as photos and videos could be viewed on 5G-enabled devices and shared on social media to increase engagement with fellow sports enthusiasts.
The Near Future is 5G
Already, 5G-enabled devices are beginning to be rolled out – including mobile devices, standalone TVs, and connected cars. This transition for the telecommunications industry could enable more immersive content for users to not just watch, but experience high-definition content.
To learn more, read our latest whitepaper on storage demands for 5G mobile applications.
- What Is Extended Reality Technology? A Simple Explanation For Anyone. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2019/08/12/what-is-extended-reality-technology-a-simple-explanation-for-anyone/#6e927daa7249
- Mobile gaming is a $68.5 billion global business, and investors are buying in. https://techcrunch.com/2019/08/22/mobile-gaming-mints-money/
- Here’s the secret behind 8K AI upscaling technology. https://www.techradar.com/news/heres-the-secret-behind-8k-ai-upscaling-technology
- Samsung’s 5G 8K TV promises to make Netflix streaming faster than ever. https://www.techradar.com/news/samsungs-5g-8k-tv-promises-to-make-netflix-streaming-faster-than-ever