5G and Immersive technologies: A Love story

Take a moment and imagine billions of devices spread all over the world communicating with each other in real-time to improve distance learning, remote medical services, pandemic control, remote working, and intelligent transportation. Impressive, right? Now spend a few moments to imagine downloading your favorite artist album, a new mobile game, or even the last feature film in a few seconds. There’s no need to imagine: 5G is officially here and it will transform our daily lives.

The many things that we do with our smartphones every day are happening faster than ever before because a new dimension of speed is reached with the use of 5G. It offers an even more stable connection that allows us lightning-fast downloads of large amounts of data as well as lag-free streaming of films and live events. Thanks to 5G, real-time interaction and edge-cloud processing becomes possible. This implies that many complex processes can be shifted from user devices to the cloud, allowing even low capacity devices to run certain rendering or processing tasks.

The new 5G mobile communication standards will not only revolutionize mobile internet use with tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices, it will also set new standards in the field of immersive technologies. With its low latency, 5G creates the perfect basis for an amazing partnership of these technologies, because it only takes a few milliseconds, so that information can be transmitted in real-time. Additionally, this will also impact the price points of the headsets: VR & AR devices will become more affordable, as they will be more energy-efficient, smaller and more practical.

At the end of October 2020, 5G commercial services had been deployed in 18 European countries which are based on 4G infrastructures: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Concerning these countries, further networks are expected to launch later in 2020 and 2021. Even if Europe is investing and working on further developing the 5G network in the coming years, it is important to note that Europe is definitely far behind in the international 5G race.

European telecommunication companies team up with XR to accelerate 5G innovation

Given the unique match of XR and 5G, wireless network operators are taking the lead in showing off new products in augmented and virtual reality that will thrive if powered by a 5G connection. Below you can find a snapshot of the most recent initiatives by European telecommunications companies:

Deutsche Telekom:

  • 5G Launch: September 5th, 2019
  • Current reach: more than 40 million people
  • Objective by 2020: reach two-thirds of the German population

Together with Deutsche Telekom, the high-flying German soccer club FC Bayern Munich has equipped the Allianz Arena in Munich with 5G for the first time in May 2020. In collaboration with Immersiv.io, Deutsche Telekom has explored a new dimension of fan experience: Fans visiting the Allianz Arena will be able to explore a whole new dimension in soccer through VR and AR. As soon as it is possible to receive spectators in the stadium again, the fans can get ready for a special experience. With 5G, the audience can try out AR and VR applications, such as taking selfies with avatars of the players in front of the Allianz Arena or controlling virtual Bayern players while watching the game in the stadium. They can also become active themselves: With the help of AR, the fans can prove their own ball skills or play virtual competitions with other spectators in the stadium.

Vodafone

  • 5G Launch: 2019
  • Current reach: 10 million people
  • Objective by end of 2020: reach 15 million people in Germany

First 5G stadium in Germany powered by Vodafone and DFL

Another German telecommunication company that values ​​future-oriented sporting events with the help of 5G and immersive technologies is Vodafone. Vodafone and the German Football League (DFL) have started two-year cooperation to bring the fifth generation of mobile communication standards to the world of football. The Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg is the first Bundesliga stadium ever to be equipped with 5G by Vodafone and plans to equip its entire stadium with 5G by summer 2021 at the latest. During a match, visitors can receive real-time analyses and live graphics summarizing running speeds, ball possession and passes of individual players, with the help of a new real-time app. The fans receive information about the game that would otherwise only be available after the end of the game.

Nreal Light Glasses:

Together with Nreal, Vodafone launched Nreal Light Glasses on December 3rd to deliver Augmented and Mixed Reality experiences through Vodafone’s high-speed, ultra-low latency Gigabit 5G network. Nreal Light will launch first in Germany and Spain during Spring 2021. The launched glasses are cutting edge and lightweight MR glasses that create a sophisticated understanding of the surrounding environment, including six degrees of freedom tracking, plane detection and image tracking.

Spain:

In Spain, 3 telecommunication companies are competing for the 5G consumer:

  • Telefónica: announced on September 1st, 2020 that it has switched on its non-standalone 5G network in unspecified Spanish locations, enabling 75% of the Spanish population to obtain access to this new technology by the end of the year.
  • Orange Spain started its 5G launch in September 2020 in five Spanish cities. Orange covers 30% of each city and plans to expand rapidly to other cities. The telecommunication company plans to reach 40% of the Spanish population by the end of 2021.
  • Vodafone Spain launched its commercial 5G services in 15 cities in June 15, 2020. At launch, the service is reaching approximately 50% coverage in each of the 15 cities.

Italy:

Vodafone Italy:

  • 5G Launch: June 6th, 2019
  • Objective by the end of 2020: reach around 45 to 50 cities in Italy

Telecom Italia (TIM):

  • 5G Launch: June 24th, 2019 (Rome, Turin and Naples)
  • Objective by the end of 2021: at least 120 cities and 200 tourist destinations across Italy

TIM’s 5G at the last stage of the Giro d’Italia

During the last stage of Giro d’Italia on 25 October in Milan, Telecom Italia (TIM) invited bicycle fans to a multimedia space set up in Piazza Castello. The fans could follow the cycle race via a smartphone connected to 5G in multistreaming mode. 5G allowed them to simultaneously enjoy 360° degree videos in 4K resolution and other more traditional formats, both live and on-demand. The experience was designed to give fans the feeling of being on the path alongside the runners, thanks to footage taken with special cameras installed and via a drone that followed the race.

United Kingdom:

5G has been available nationwide in parts of the UK for some time. The various telecommunication companies are increasingly working to ensure that 5G is available everywhere.

Vodafone UK:

  • 5G Launch: July 3rd, 2019
  • Current reach: available in 57 locations across the country
  • Objective by the end of 2020: 5G in 60 locations across the country

O2 UK:

  • 5G Launch: March 2019
  • Current reach: available in 108 towns and cities across the country

EE UK:

  • 5G Launch: May 30, 2019
  • Current reach: available in 112 towns and cities since June

“This one’s for you. Live over 5G!”

EE’s latest ad campaign shows off the power of the Apple iPhone 12 Pro’s AR capabilities over the EE 5G network. The ad features a WebAR performance from singer-songwriter Rita Ora, where an amazingly real-looking, gold mini-avatar of the singer is seen dancing through London’s skyline while performing her hit single Let You Love Me.

With this advertising campaign, the telecommunication company wants to show its customers the refreshing creativity AR tech will bring.

  • Three UK: Turned on its 5G infrastructure in a small number of locations in central London; The operator plans to launch 5G mobile services in several locations by the end of the year

Three UK presents the fashion show of the future

Three UK partnered up with Central Saint Martin for London Fashion Week 2020 and created the fashion show of the future, using VR and AR. Through a combination of the latest video capture technology and Three’s 5G network, British fashion model Adwoa Aboah enjoyed a front-row view of the latest college collections, before witnessing a high definition, full-size digitised version of herself. While Aboah took a seat on the front row, Three enabled visitors to see her in action in real life on their smartphones at any angle imaginable, walking down the runway.

Every audience member received headphones which worked alongside a large scale audio speaker array, a giant 4K animation that stretched the length of the runway, haptics in every seat, scent, next-level sound design and a virtual model. Invitees to this fashion event didn’t just see the cuts and colours of next season. They were able to hear, feel and smell the scent of visionary style.

This technical advance shows the diversity of 5G and the advantages it brings in the domain of sustainability. 5G will cut travel requirements and it will bring another dimension to the spectacle of the catwalk. Reinventing it into a hyper immersive event, an entertainment space, creates a new opportunity for this industry.

In the future, 5G in combination with VR and AR will also offer the possibility of presenting fashion completely in the virtual world and making these digital events more accessible and attractive — for models, designers and fashion lovers.

LucidWeb & live 360° & 5G

In November 2020, LucidWeb uniquely made 52 VR festival experiences available via three device browsers: desktop, mobile and VR headset. We achieved amazing results in the stand-alone device browsers of the Oculus headset family. We tested different (home) internet connections and logically the stronger the connection, the better the streaming experience (no buffering). Our adaptive streaming tech allowed us to show VR storytelling up to 4K. Looking at 2021, we are committed to strengthening our offering and connecting our robust WebVR 360° video player to a live-stream URL, all powered by 5G. Live-stream in 360° can be the ideal technology to leverage your event to a hybrid one, with an audience at the venue and one (safe) at home. Adding to that the convenience of inviting your audience to connect to the live-stream with the device they have at hand.

If you are interested to learn more about how 5G accelerates LucidWeb’s offering as well in on-demand as for live streaming, please don’t hesitate to reach out to contact@lucidweb.io.

Interested to see the power of the web at work simplifying the distribution of 360° images & video, then sign-up for a free trial account of LucidWeb Pro today!

Credits go to Charlotte Pfeifer for the research and editorial work, Emilie Moreau created the visuals.

Your partner in all things #WebXR. WebXR players & educational experiences for brands & VR production agencies. Making it easy for everyone to get into XR.

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