Major things 5G will change besides smartphones
The age of 5G is upon us and what happens in the next few years will be instrumental in how the new-age connectivity standard will change the way we live our lives. Carriers in the US have already started leveraging the platform in a big way, offering incredibly fast download speeds to users on their smartphones. And while many countries around the world are also following suit, the prospects of 5G for consumers look incredibly bright.
However, it’s not just smartphone users who will be benefiting from it. The advent of 5G will open up a whole bunch of new avenues for a number of industries. The Internet of Things (IoT) will benefit in a big way, while there are plenty of other branches where the application of the fifth-gen cellular technology will be of great use. Today, we’re going to give you a look at the most prominent fields in which 5G is about to make big contributions, changing them forever.
Remote Robotic Surgeries and Telemedicine
In the field of medicine, the applications of 5G are going to be all about remote treatment. High-quality video conferencing and virtual reality will open up new telemedicine avenues, even as doctors will be able to have more interactions with patients without meeting them.
Remote surgeries are also something big that will be made possible by 5G, with doctors being able to operate on patients while sitting in another part of the world. The equipment and the expertise to do this are already available and a few such surgeries have already been performed, but the arrival of 5G will definitely make them more common.
Researchers from Columbia University are working on virtual physical therapy that will be aided by 5G’s low latency. It entails a patient wearing a virtual-reality headset and moving controllers to manipulate digital versions of physical objects like a ball, mimicking motions in a traditional therapy session.
Support for up to One Million Devices per Sq Km
5G isn’t only about speed. It is about higher capacity than you could possibly imagine. You know the lag in Internet speeds you experience when too many people are connected to one Wi-Fi router at home or in the office? You would never face it if it wasn’t for your 4G connection.
According to the International Telecommunications Union, 5G can support up to a million connected devices per square kilometer. If you want to compare it with 4G, the latter is only capable of hooking up approximately 2,000 connected devices per square kilometer. Additionally, 5G networks are compatible with low-latency connections.
Latency can be understood as gap time, or transmission time for a packet of data. As we’ve mentioned above, the ultra-low latency provided by 5G can offer the precision required to safely perform operations on people across the world, make self-driving cars safer and so on.
5G Leakage and Weather Forecasts
5G wireless networks have been found to interfere with weather forecasts, according to a recent Rutgers University study. It is the first time ever that the effect of 5G on weather forecasts has been quantified. This peer-reviewed paper was published at the 2020 IEEE 5G World Forum.
Signals from 5G frequency bands apparently have the potential of leaking into the band used by weather sensors on satellites that measure the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. This has an unintended effect on weather predictions. The Rutgers study used computer modeling to examine the impact of 5G leakage.
Leakage in this case means the unintended radiation from a transmitter into an adjacent frequency band or channel, on forecasting the 2008 Super Tuesday Tornado Outbreak in the South and Midwest of the US.
It found that 5G leakage power of even a small amount apparently affected the accuracy of forecasting of precipitation (by up to 0.9 mm) during the tornado outbreak and temperatures near ground level (by up to 2.34 degrees Fahrenheit).
Does this mean we have to be afraid of 5G? Not at all. We will find a way to work around this potential issue, as we have always done when it comes to adjusting to new technologies, or any big change, as a matter of fact.
Safer Self-Driving Cars
One of the most awaited applications of 5G has to be the self-driving vehicles industry. Companies like Uber, Google, and others are already testing their viability and some locations are also allowing consumers to take advantage of them.
Again, the reduced latency of 5G networks will be the key here. These autonomous vehicles will be able to respond up to a hundred times faster compared to current cellular networks, which could make a world of a difference in terms of safety.
The main goal here will be the development of a vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication network, which will allow vehicles to automatically respond to objects and changes around them almost instantaneously. For this to happen, the sending and receiving of messages must be instantaneous, which will only be made possible by 5G networks.
In the field of autonomous driving where so many dangers are involved given that there’s no one in the driver’s seat, having the advantage of the low latency 5G networks will definitely be a matter of life and death.
Smart Cities and Traffic Management
Smart cities are the ultimate aim of IoT and 5G will serve as the foundation of small-cell networks that will power the next generation of wireless network infrastructure in a city. The advanced connectivity and computing capacity made possible by 5G will allow officials to adopt new technologies for smart city solutions.
Many cities these days are deploying Intelligent Transportation Systems, while also trying to enable connected vehicle technology. Aspects of these systems are relatively easy to install using current communications systems that support smart traffic management to handle vehicle congestion and route emergency vehicles.
Some applications of 5G in smart cities could include drones that help with public safety, video cameras allowing first responders to act faster, autonomous ambulances, automated traffic signals that understand what’s needed to get rid of traffic jams faster, and much more.
The advent of 5G means that cities will be able to use artificial intelligence to analyze the massive amounts of data being collected. Of course, this will need large-scale privacy measures to be in place as well, but it could result in the collected data being used to automate processes that are currently done manually.
Use of Drone Tech in Newer Fields
Drone technology took off in a big way a few years ago, resulting in a wide variety of consumer-level tech that has revolutionized filming. Not just big productions, but even the common consumer can now afford to buy these drones to film their travel adventures and put them up on YouTube.
But there are plenty of other avenues where drones are bound to come in incredibly handy. As Amazon has already demonstrated, drone-based deliveries aren’t quite far away from turning into reality and they will receive a huge boost when 5G spreads its wings wider.
Today’s drones, however, lack the potential to travel over long distances. And even if they do manage to travel long distances, they are of no use if they are out of your sight since you won’t be able to control them.
5G is expected to allow drone technology to flourish in a massive way. You’ll be able to control them over long distances, or better yet, have them move around and perform your tasks autonomously. And when you do feel like you need to see what they are up to, you’ll be able to get their video feed on virtual reality goggles.
5G is Not Yet as Widespread as You Think
Hardware companies and carriers are just starting on the path to bring 5G to the masses. Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T have launched 5G networks in select regions across the US. You don’t even need all your fingers and toes to count the number of smartphones with 5G capability that are available right now; and these are restricted to Android phones.
UPDATE: Apple has rolled out the iPhone 12 series consisting of four new iPhones. Happily, all of them have 5G chips.
There’s a rumor that Apple will launch a 5G-capable iPhone this year. But even then, only the high-end iPhone 12 model is expected work on the ultra-fast network. On top of this, there are a number of conspiracy theories doing the rounds about the ill effects of 5G. None of these are backed by science.
In other countries across the world, China launched its 5G national network and began commercial operations in November 2019. Telecom companies in Japan, New Zealand, Germany, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, Italy and some other nations have deployed 5G in a limited manner.
Several other nations including India are still in the process of testing the network or auctioning spectrum for this purpose. To sum it up, 5G networks are still a long way from uninterrupted global deployment and availability.
Bonus to the Manufacturing Industry
5G will offer manufacturers the ability to work with telecom operators and build smart factories that do their work on their own. With this partnership, they will be able to harness the full potential of automation, artificial intelligence, augmented reality for troubleshooting, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
This could eventually lead to completely new revenue streams for the manufacturing industry. According to an Ericsson study, the expected addressable market in 2026 will be $113 billion with a substantial 7 percent potential revenue growth from current service revenue forecasts.
5G technologies can deliver network characteristics that are ideal for the manufacturing industry. These include low latency and high reliability that come together to provide secure and pervasive connectivity. When applied to manufacturing units, they will lead to higher flexibility, lower cost, and shorter lead times for factory floor production reconfiguration, layout changes, and alterations.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
The biggest problem facing augmented reality and virtual reality right now is the slow rate of their adoption. A big reason for this is unreliable connectivity outdoors. The spread of 5G could very well end up accelerating the adoption of AR and VR by a number of industries.
AR and VR require graphics with heavy rendering, while they also demand greater on-device processing. If graphics are rendered on the edge cloud, latency-sensitive tasks like on-device head tracking, controller tracking, hand tracking, and motion tracking could be done with the help of something called split rendering. And this is where 5G will come in handy.
There are plenty of usage scenarios to consider as well. Suppose a service technician is not available in the factory at a certain time and some equipment needs to be fixed immediately. He could take advantage of smart VR glasses that will give him a complete view of the site and help him solve the problems remotely, thanks to 5G connectivity.
5G will also pave the way for more immersive education with the help of VR. Not only can it transform the way educational content is delivered, but it can also enhance student learning and engagement.
Hotspots for Concerts, Car Races and Other Events
Grabbing front row tickets to big sports games or concerts is not possible for everyone. In such cases, you are forced to watch the games on the TV or in the case of concerts, miss the whole experience completely. This is when something called 5G hotspots will prove to be beneficial.
With these set up at such events, a live feed will be accessible to you with control of the multiple cameras operating at the event. Better yet, thanks to the high speed and low latency of 5G, you could also be treated to a virtual reality experience that can get you close to the action from the confines of your home.
This way, there would be no need to spend droves of cash on front row seats anymore. And yet, you’d be able to experience what it is like sitting in the front row. 5G hotspots truly do show a lot of potential.
Moreover, this idea is useful now more than ever. With the COVID-19 pandemic, so many sporting events are happening without the involvement of any crowds. Had 5G been a bigger norm than it is right now, we’d have been experiencing these events in virtual reality, not missing out on any action.
It will definitely take a few more years for 5G to establish deep roots around the world. And only then will all the possibilities we’ve mentioned here turn into reality. Until then, we can still enjoy the benefits of ultra-fast internet connections on our 5G-capable smartphones.