OnQ Blog

VR and AR are pushing the limits of connectivity, but 5G is coming to our rescue

Feb 1, 2017

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5G is in the news daily as the industry accelerates the 3GPP specifications and races toward technology trials and commercial cellular network deployments.

Each generation of cellular technology has provided the foundation for unprecedented mobile experiences and services, some of which were expected and most of which were unforeseen. It’s hard to know what the world will look like 10 years from now, but 5G is being designed with flexibility in mind to support unknown future services and to be a platform for invention. Some services are known today so 5G, with its New Radio (NR), is being designed to deliver enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), mission-critical control services, and connect the massive Internet of Things (IoT). The goal is for 5G NR is to deliver all these capabilities while supporting new levels of cost and energy efficiency.

Virtual reality and augmented reality are poised to be ideal applications with 5G, benefiting from 5G’s:

  • enhanced mobile broadband with its higher capacity
  • more uniform experience with consistently high data rates
  • lower latency

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality: The First Wave of 5G Killer Apps

Why do we need 5G to support AR and VR?

Download the whitepaper

So we asked ABI Research: why do we need 5G to support AR and VR? Furthermore, what are the specific requirements 5G has to deliver in order to support the next generation of VR and AR experiences?

To address these questions ABI Research published a white paper entitled “Augmented and Virtual Reality: The First Wave of 5G ‘Killer’ Apps.” The paper explains why 5G is critical to AR and VR applications. It describes four examples that require 5G to either empower new user experiences, or improve existing ones as the capabilities of both AR and VR increase tremendously:

  1. Automotive video streaming of AR and VR content: Semi-autonomous and fully autonomous vehicles will present additional time for AR and VR content consumption, but also challenge mobility and capacity requirements for wireless streaming. Many more antennas (massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna technology and 5G NR’s multi-connectivity (allows a user to simultaneously receive data from multiple cells) are enablers to a more uniform, seamless mobility experience.
  2. Social media sharing from event venues: Applications at densely populated stadiums are already stressing cellular networks, and content upload by thousands of simultaneous users at a stadium could demand capacity on the order of 10 Tbps/km2. To address such capacity issues, 5G offers the ability to employ more antennas and to utilize much more spectrum, including high bands in the mmWave range.
  3. Next-generation 6 degrees of freedom (6DoF) video: The impressive growth of video will become even more substantial as AR and VR adoption increases, with next-generation content formats like 6DoF video stressing cellular networks even more with individual data consumption in the range of 200 Mbps to 1 Gbps.
  4. Remote control and tactile Internet: Ideal end-to-end latency requirements in the 10 ms range for remote machinery control and tactile Internet will push the boundaries of cellular networks, and could require over-the-air latencies as low as 1 ms, which is in the range of the lower target for 5G NR’s scalable latency improvements.

The AR and VR industry is thirsty for the capabilities 5G promises. It is a profound change in the way cellular networks have traditionally been developed: if you build it (the network), they will come (applications and users). While we expect 5G to enable many new and unforeseen use cases, the enhanced capabilities of 5G are required for AR and VR to reach their full potential. Be sure to download and read the white paper for more details.

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Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

Pat Lawlor

Staff Manager, Technical Marketing, Qualcomm Technologies

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