5G is becoming the new standard among service providers and industries. The rollout speed might differ if you compare one region of the world to another, but we can’t deny that it will become the normal way of receiving and transmitting mobile data. Because we know this is happening, it is important to understand the possibilities better and comprehend the 5G vision beyond the buzzwords. Whether you’re a gamer or care for other applications of AR and VR, knowing the vision can help to understand better what you could benefit from.
On Monday I saw that Ericsson had unveiled a novel end-to-end solution for Time-Critical Communication to address the time-critical use cases, which need consistent low latency and higher reliability. While this is undeniably a milestone on the path to the future of ICT, such progress in the world of 5G and IoT can also enable a new kind of experience for gamers and esports athletes. In addition to the estimated 2.5 billion mobile gamers globally today who will benefit from unrivaled lag-free mobile gaming experiences, we expect that all 5G users will be thrilled with the new innovative, more immersive XR experiences enabled by the new solution.
Time-Critical Communication: Beyond the obvious
Data speed is one of the rather obvious aspects of what 5G networks have to offer, but what else is there? In order to drive innovation and enable game-changing features, you also need to consider aspects such as latency, reliability, as well as availability. Real-time media, such as many aspects of gaming and augmented reality (AR), can thrive on data transmission speed. Still, it’s only advantageous if the connection is equally reliable at constantly low latency.
I’ve been preaching about cloud gaming for some years now, and I always considered it a key feature of future gaming services. However, achieving the sort of network quality that not only enables cloud gaming but makes it a fun experience is not easily achieved on home Wi-Fi and certainly not on a 4G connection. There are also figures to back that. In a recent trial, leveraging an Ericsson network, they demonstrated a gaming experience based on Ubitus technology which delivered 85 percent lower latency of between 8 ms and 11 ms compared with cloud gaming on existing mobile networks.
What is latency, and how does it matter?
The time it takes for data traffic to make one complete loop from the device to the edge of the mobile network (packet core) and back to the device. To get a better idea of time, you can also compare this rate to other examples:
- Cars traveling at 60 mph are equivalent to ~3 ft (35 ms) for 4G and ~1 inch (1 ms) for 5G.
- 200 ms reaction time for racing driver Lewis Hamilton – typical human reaction times vary with stimuli: 250 ms to visual, 170 ms to audio, and 150 ms for touch stimuli.
- 33 ms interval between frames for video encoded at 30 frames per second.
- 11 ms interval between frames for augmented reality encoded/rendered at 90 frames per second.
- 10 ms is the refresh rate (interval between picture frames) for an LCD TV.
- 8 ms is the time it takes to shift gears on a Formula 1 car and ~50 ms for supercars.
- 1 ms is the response time (for changing color on a pixel) on a QLED gaming monitor.
Cloud gaming and esports on 5G networks
When you’re looking at esports, for instance, I remember that back in the day, gamers who enjoy competitive multiplayer would pay some money on top of their service rates to their ISP to get a slightly better ping. Some might find that unnecessary but sport is sport, and every millisecond counts. This is as true for car racing, as running, like swimming, as much as it is true for esports in matches that are carried out through displays and cables.
Based on that, we can find at least two immediate benefits of considering 5G networks for gaming when it comes to leveraging features sought to enable T. One would be to improve the experience of cloud gaming. The other would be to capitalize on new network technologies to enhance the speed of play for competitive esports.
What’s next for AR?
What else could be interesting in this area? Pokémon GO, for instance, was not the first AR game, but it was one of the titles that had the most impact, and even after all those years, it’s still widely popular. Yet, the AR features we can witness in Pokémon GO are only the beginning of what could be done. If supported by modern hardware and a 5G network, the possibilities of what could be done with AR go way further. By reducing the latency and increasing the speed of data transmission, game developers can build features that incorporate live input from a smartphone’s camera, interpret the video signal, and project a virtual object into the live feed, which establishes a degree of immersion that would be unparalleled and not possible on a slow or unreliable network.
If you imagine how AR games could also involve new multiplayer and esports aspects, then 5G for Time-Critical Communication and media processing makes even more sense. The German AR game studio forwARdgame states, “We make AR games that feel real. And real has no lag. Real is immediate and perfectly synchronized between all the participants”. Staging AR games on smartphones is one thing, but new products might introduce new form factors. AR glasses, for instance, could lift AR gaming to a whole new level, and if 5G is used to source the computing power from cloud infrastructure, then such glasses could be slim and not carry a bulky computer box right next to the frame.
How could enterprises benefit from this?
I’m confident that the future of entertainment technology is going to be enriched by leveraging 5G technology and that we can expect some interesting innovations from startups as much as from the big players in the future. But what about less casual applications? What could we realistically expect to happen across various industries?
5G for Time-Critical Communication is important for ambulance and disaster recovery teams. It could save lives in the peacekeeping segment. Industries like manufacturing could benefit enormously from critical IoT solution rollouts and automation capabilities. Smart buildings and smart cities could gain a big boost as far as availability and reliability go.
Advantages in network technology are easily overlooked if you’re not deeply involved in the industry on a day-to-day basis. We only begin to notice the network quality when it doesn’t work well. When everything works, we take it for granted.
The exciting part here is that technologies like 5G and IoT enable innovation. Such game-changers make solutions possible for problems that have previously been impossible to solve. Time-Critical Communication milestones like the one from Ericsson, as it was unveiled on the 25th of October, are what keeps the bright minds innovating – a cleared road to a fascinating future.
YouTube: Live from Ericsson Studio
Photo credit: The feature image has been done by Manuel Moreno. The photos (1/2) in the body of the article were done by Ahtisham Munir.
Source: Ericsson Mobility Report / Joseph Waring (Mobile World Live)