By Joe Dyer
Director, Experience Strategy & Insight
In limited areas of the United States, 5G is already here. Some mobile providers have begun to roll it out in test phases.
It’s yet another development in the world of wireless technology, but unlike past upgrades from one G to the next, 5G will provide more than just speed.
Sure, 5G will represent speed — and a lot of it. The technology will provide download speeds up to 1,000 times faster than 4G. It will cut latency down to one-50th of what it is now. It will increase network availability to about 100%.
5G will be so powerful that in some areas, it might replace broadband internet.
By 2020, most U.S. consumers could experience 5G at its fullest, downloading movies and music at lightning speed and streaming video and audio without any lag.
All this speed is great for entertainment, but it’s not just about having fun. 5G technology has the power to completely alter the consumer experience.
VR/AR Becomes More Than Just Fun
Virtual reality and augmented reality experiences have become more mainstream over the last four years as 4G and broadband technology have increased speed and reliability.
When most people think of virtual reality, they think of games. They put on a virtual reality headset and play as if they are a part of the game’s world, seeing the environment in real-time as they move.
Virtual reality in this sense relies on ultra-low latency so the game’s world refreshes and presents itself as the player reacts to it. When the player turns his or her head to the left, the game environment should move as well.
5G will dramatically lower the latency, giving VR players a much better user experience. But again, 5G isn’t all about entertainment.
With Amazon’s augmented reality offering, for example, consumers can virtually place items such as couches, speakers, wall pictures and more throughout their homes to see how it looks if they purchase it.
This type of AR technology can advance the consumer experience dramatically with 5G. Companies can replicate this Amazon experience and expand it into other industries, giving consumers a way to virtually experience tangible items.
Shopping Becomes an Experience
Retail shopping is already transforming into an experience. 5G can take that a step further.
Retail outlets already collect data on consumers and use it to personalize marketing toward them. However, 5G is much more than targeted email marketing.
Consumers might soon walk into a store and be greeted by a sales associate who tailors the shopping experience to each individual. Imagine trying on new clothes without actually wearing them, as consumers are “virtually dressed” in new attire. Then, based on a consumer’s reactions to how he or she looks, the AI technology might suggest alternatives or similar products.
To do this, though, stores need what’s referred to as “fast data,” enabled by 5G.
Autonomous Cars Become Viable
Much like in the VR space, low latency means the world for autonomous cars. In fact, a millisecond can mean the difference between life and death.
Autonomous cars require an immense amount of data transfer in real time. Experts predict self-driving cars will generate about 3.6 TB of data per hour from all the sensors and cameras they will need to turn, accelerate and brake, for example.
In this space, 5G will allow the market to advance at warp speed. With an ultra-high-speed network for sending data, the autonomous car industry could begin producing vehicles viable for the road.
Healthcare Soars to New Heights
For all the focus on advancing medical technology and educating and training more qualified physicians, the most important aspect in the industry is the patient experience. What 5G can do for the patient experience is perhaps the most awe-inspiring factor.
Today, health-monitoring watches, apps, wearable devices, cybersecurity to protect patient data, and AI in hospitals are becoming more commonplace. 5G can help healthcare providers take these further.
Through the use of home medical sensors and wearable devices, it’s possible that an annual trip to the doctor for an exam won’t be necessary. Neither, too, might be the reliance on calling a doctor when one feels sick.
5G can allow advancement of remote patient monitoring no matter where people are, because of the network’s speed and reliability.
In theory, this could improve the health of all Americans in two ways — by automatically notifying healthcare providers in real-time if there is a medical issue and by providing preventative notifications directly to people as they go about their day.
This aspect of 5G technology can advance the quality of U.S. healthcare and drastically reduce its cost.
There is No End to 5G’s Capabilities
These are a few of the many possibilities of ways 5G technology can completely transform the consumer experience.
5G isn’t just another G up from 4G, with faster speeds; it is a whole step above and beyond what the world has seen so far.
With network access and reliability expanded exponentially, there is no predicting exactly how transformative 5G will actually become. What is known is that its capabilities are endless and the world may soon see the depths of its functions.