There are high hopes for the potential of VR, AR and mixed reality applications, with a stream of organisations from startups to more established names announcing plans for the technology. Indeed, the UK Government announced investment of up to £33 million in the space as part of its Industrial Strategy earlier this year.
Requirements for ultra-low latency and reliable, high-speed data connections mean that the full potential of these applications has yet to be realised.
Fortunately, 5G is set to provide ten times the bandwidth of current networking technology, to ten times the number of connections, with latency of less than two milliseconds. Its arrival will finally open the doors to such high bandwidth services as AR, VR and mixed reality applications, as well as 4K and 360-degree video.
Service providers are already working with AR and VR tech providers in anticipation of 5G and, once the right content is developed, we’ll begin to see this part of the market truly ignite.
What types of applications could we expect to see?
There’ll be a raft of enterprise applications ranging from the relatively straightforward, such as the use of VR in helping workers to navigate a warehouse to pick and pack the right products, to the more complicated, such as using AR to guide engineers through complicated repair processes while on-site.
The robustness and resilience of the technology also makes it well suited for mission-critical, ultra-high availability services such as virtual remote surgery, and connected car and assisted driving applications. We’ll start to see AR-enabled motorcycle helmets, for example, that utilise 5G connections to project rich, real-time traffic and weather information on to inside of a rider’s visor.
What’s needed to make it work?
It goes without saying that, with the right content and applications, AR and VR have the potential to revolutionise mobile services. Both are reliant on high quality, low latency connectivity to provide a decent user experience, however.
For 5G, delivering this experience introduces a new approach to service assurance; one that must take into account the requirements of the service actually being delivered over the network.
In order to deliver the high-quality experiences expected of AR and VR, it is critical that service providers monitor their 5G networks. As 5G is a virtualised environment, this should be carried out using software-based or virtual probes using smart data technology to provide visibility into the performance of individual applications and services.
In today’s connected world, people expect their digital experiences to work seamlessly and securely. However, the complex provisioning of those digital experiences generates huge volumes of data, both structured and unstructured, and from internal and external sources. While companies rely on vital intelligence from that data to optimise the user experience, few can manage the data deluge with speed, quality, and fidelity.
Bridging that gap, and achieving pervasive real-time visibility of a network, requires smart data – data that is prepared and organised at the collection point such that it is ready and optimised for analytics at the highest quality and speed.
It was summed up rather neatly in a Wired article, which said that “Smart data means information that actually makes sense… Algorithms turn meaningless numbers into actionable insights.”
Smart data has another important attribute in that it is lightweight which makes it ever more practical in the age of exabytes and petabytes of data. Smart data “saves the signal” and “removes the noise” from IP communications to create a rich, extensible meta data.
Why is visibility so important?
The intelligent visibility provided by this smart data approach will give service providers the insight necessary for their systems to make automated decisions that will support the delivery of a great user experience.
The requirements for providing weather data in the corner of a motorcyclist’s helmet visor, for example, are very different to those for serving the high bandwidth demands of an on-site engineer servicing a power-generating windmill, and provision therefore should be adjusted accordingly.
Connectivity and content are both key to unlocking the potential of AR and VR, but intelligence and visibility will help service providers to deliver the optimum user experience – whatever their reality.
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