The age of 5G has arrived, and we’re just beginning to see the true potential of 5G revolutionizing how we communicate, collaborate, work, play — essentially how we live in the digital age. With unheard of download speeds and extremely low latency, this next generation of wireless technology is purpose-built to make download lags, streaming glitches, and the dreaded mid-meeting face freeze relics of the past. 

In the first article in this series, we turned to experts at Qualcomm Technologies — the inventor of foundational technologies for 5G — to explain these new capabilities and why they’re so exciting. Now it’s time to geek out about some amazing experiences that 5G experts envision, and to speculate on the exciting future scenarios that we’ll owe to 5G.   

Real-time collaboration

Image: Qualcomm Technologies

One of the game-changers of 5G is its extraordinarily low latency, or the time between data request and delivery. This means virtually instant cloud access designed to unleash a new wave of real-time experiences that allow  us to collaborate like never before. 

At the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ Tech Summit in Maui, the world got its first glimpse of live VR telemedicine, through a demo with Verizon and Columbia University. Making use of the almost zero lag time of 5G, the demo showed two people remotely engaged in real-time actions, simulating how a doctor and patient could engage in real-time rehab exercises, utilizing 5G’s live 4K video streaming and low latency capabilities. Verizon’s 5G hotspot is expected to launch sometime in 2019, in a device made by Inseego that utilizes the Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform and Snapdragon X50 5G Modem. VR telemedicine is just one of the revolutionary real-world (and potentially life-saving) applications of 5G.

5G holds potential for collaboration not only in medicine, but also in the workplace across many industries. While most of us are already accustomed to connecting instantly via cloud-based apps, imagine creating projects together in real-time thanks to 5G’s low latency.

And what about social media interactions? Today we’re at the phase of sharing our daily “stories,” but the stories are always from one vantage point only. We want to see an app that allows us to create high-quality group stories—like a shared video document on steroids. 

Imagine going on a road trip or to a concert. All of your friends could pull up the app and add video clips from their own devices and begin editing the “master” video simultaneously.

This type of real-time collaboration isn’t possible with 4G, due not only to the amount of time it takes to download and upload massive file sizes of high-resolution images and videos, but also to the fact that real-time collaboration requires almost zero lag. But 5G’s super low latency is designed to ensure that each collaborator sees the other edits being made in real-time, so you’re not tripping over each other as you work. Imagine fun, professional-looking group stories as an everyday thing.

Augmented Reality grows up

Image: Qualcomm technologies

Most consumers are familiar with AR by now thanks to simple executions with pre-set digital objects that use basic AR mapping to overlay virtual objects on the real world.

But with the speed of 5G networks, experts believe that AR interactions are likely to become more meaningful and attuned to the ever-changing details of the world around us. The recent  Snapdragon Tech Summit in Maui included demoes of amazing new AR capabilities. 

Qualcomm Technologies worked with AT&T to show off AR Voyager, which could transform the classroom by allowing you to visit far away 3D environments—imagine Yellowstone National Park or the Great Wall of China—right on your phone. The user could then enter the environment for a real-time experience that adjusts to his or her movements. Qualcomm Technologies, in collaboration with AT&T, showcased how 5G will handle volumetric video, capturing an entire 3D space, which entails a massive amount of data, to create VR videos with virtually no lag time.

Image: Qualcomm Technologies

It’s also fun to imagine how 5G’s more sophisticated AR capabilities play a role in social settings. Let’s say you’re with a group of friends trying to figure out where to grab a drink or watch the game. You’ve consulted Yelp, but that doesn’t tell you anything about real time elements like crowd size and noise level. 5G could inform your decisions with a “Yelp meets OKCupid” type app, where you could input specific parameters and receive recommendations for the best bars, based on what’s happening inside them at that very moment. The app could pull data from the business itself, and from the user’s past decisions. 

A meaningful virtual display that interacts with the constantly changing real world: that’s the true promise of AR made possible thanks to 5G.

A platform for tomorrow’s more connected world

The near future of 5G use cases goes well beyond enhanced mobile broadband. 5G NR is building a new infrastructure for a world that has become increasingly connected. From industrial automation to remote healthcare to building sustainable and energy-efficient cities, 5G aims to bring the mobile ecosystem to new industries, with huge results. 

Smart cars of the near future could communicate directly with people, infrastructure and other vehicles, thanks to 5G vehicle-to-everything communications technology. Transportation safety could improve thanks to vehicles that share real-time information with other cars on the road. For instance, when your car is about to shift into the next lane, the other cars on the road will already know. Imagine a freeway full of cars driving in a highly coordinated fashion, sharing real-time 3D maps and more. 

Qualcomm Technologies is not only building the tech we need for a smart and streamlined future, but also bringing to life some of the amazing use cases they have for 5G. 

Qualcomm Snapdragon is a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries

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