2020: The 5G Revolution Begins
“5G will also allow for new engagement and experiences to become real. With the low latency and high-speed data capabilities that 5G offers, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences will become more commonplace,” Carney says, noting that in many industries, companies will now be able to better promote products by allowing customers “to visualize them in their own space and surroundings.”
AR/VR powered by 5G could transform everything from shopping for clothes to buying a home, he adds. And, as an added bonus, because VR and AR capture consumers’ attention and trigger their emotions more than any other medium, this evolution could lead to deeper levels of engagement with companies.
This is also a benefit cited by market research firm Nielsen in a recent report on the future of retail. In it, the company notes that with 5G, the retail landscape is set to change forever.
“With 5G, the Internet of Things finally becomes a mainstream reality, providing end consumers with access to more data at their fingertips with virtually no response delay, so they’re less limited in their ability to come to an informed decision on the retailers and brands they want to work with,” the firm predicts.
At the same time, Nielsen expects 5G to bring about a push-and-pull between the in-store experience and shopping at home. Augmented reality, it says, will improve, and 5G will indirectly reduce barriers to entry, based on the shift to the cloud and the enablement of smartphones as AR devices.
Yet AR can also improve the brick-and-mortar experience with special in-store promotions accessible via smartphones, Nielsen also contends. As such, mobile, AR-based buying will reach critical mass and up the ante for brick-and-mortar to keep consumers coming back with experiential benefits.
And the benefits extend to other industries as well. Joe Tobolski, chief technology officer at Nerdery, a digital consulting firm, sees 5G-enabled AR/VR improving medical care through the use of virtual doctors. And, in manufacturing, retail, and education, “5G will allow companies the option to actually visualize product data and useful business scenarios, even building virtual warehouses, classrooms, or stores,” he says.
Along those same lines, 5G is also expected to speed the world toward a “connected everything,” Carney says.
“As our networks evolve to 5G, the number of connected devices will dramatically increase, allowing for more services to be sold and more data to be captured from connected devices to disrupt other industries,” he says.
As an example, he notes that the insurance industry is being disrupted by new companies that can offer personalized premiums based on individual driving behaviors rather than a wide average of premium costs.
5G is able to power this new, more robust Internet of Things because the number of devices a single radio tower can support is much higher. 4G can support anywhere from 5,000 to 6,000 devices per cell tower; 5G can support anywhere from 600,000 to 1 million connected devices in some cases.
“The number of devices that can be supported will make it very easy for use cases around industrial Internet of Things (IoT) and connected cities to come to fruition,” Carney states.
In the same fashion, mobile employees will also benefit from greater connectivity, allowing them to better communicate with colleagues and systems back at the office. “Field technicians and door-to-door sales will have more reliable connectivity as 5G rolls out to ensure constant connectivity and the ability to communicate to the data centers and receive immediate help as quickly as possible,” Carney says.
5G’S NOT FREE
But this greater connectivity will come at a price. “With 5G kicking into full gear, its greater processing speed is creating new consumer expectations across a variety of industries in terms of demand for fast service,” warns Philip Say, vice president of innovation product management at Sutherland Labs, a customer and employee experience design firm.
Under pressure to keep up with these heightened demands, more companies will need to harness edge computing for data processing at the source, according to Say.