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5G is now finally becoming a reality. This inevitable shift to the next-gen networking would change and influence our lives more significantly than any other transition we have witnessed since the birth of the internet itself. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to benefit big time from 5G cellular technology, as it will become widely available. The network could unleash the complete vibrant potential of IoT, thereby playing a well-established role in the digital transformation and economic progress of many countries. This article examines the impact of 5G in IoT while exploring its many use cases and benefits.

5G – A Preface  

5G is a next-generation cellular network that would supersede the current standard of 4G. It comes with a transmission speed that ranges between 15-20 Gigabytes (GBPS). The latency will be ten times less, which enhances the scope of device connectivity. In more non-technical terms, a 5G connection can download the longest of videos in a matter of a few seconds (that’s not only it, of course. We’ll learn more).  

The Relevance 

The primary attributes of 5G include significantly faster data throughput; support for massive machine-type communications in which large numbers of machines or devices communicate without any human interaction or control; and ultra-reliable, low-latency communication, says Bill Menezes, senior principal analyst, Gartner.

IoT use cases may be simple or complex. The simple ones just require normal data collection from a few basic devices in a relatively closed system. Some others may need advanced analytics, surplus devices, enormous data, autonomous machines, and integration with an organization’s full IT and operation systems. 5G would provide operators the flexibility to support these wide ranges of potential use cases. 

The enterprise segment will emerge as the biggest contributor to incremental 5G revenues for mobile operators. The network will offer new capabilities and the flexibility that can cater to the respective needs of different enterprise customers.

“Two further GSMA surveys underline the importance of the enterprise segment to mobile operators. A more recent survey from April 2018 revealed that the industry aspires to generate 40% of its revenues from enterprises five years post-5G” – a GSMA Survey

Data Transfer Speeds Like Never Before

The success of any IoT platform depends on its performance. This again is determined by its ability to communicate with other IoT devices, smartphones/tablets, etc. 5G is set to significantly increase the data-transfer speeds.

The increased speed of the 5G network will enable IoT devices to communicate and share data faster than ever before. Nearly all IoT devices, including smart homes, healthcare, and industrial applications will greatly benefit from this boosted speed.

The Next Computing Platform

Extended Reality, or more precisely, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, is the next mobile computing platform. The age of 5G would virtually connect everything, drive smarter experiences, and power an XR world, connecting virtually everything at the wireless edge. 

“Screens will eventually disappear and the world around us will act as a browser. Smartphones may well disappear, and XR will take over” – Brian Vogelsang, Senior Director of XR Product Management at Qualcomm. 

Now let’s understand how 5G could make the best use of AR/VR experiences in a more technical diction. Combining and synchronizing the real world and the digital requires massive graphical rendering processes. Due to this heavy requirement, on-device processes are augmented by splitting workloads between AR/VR devices and the edge cloud. When the process of graphical rendering is carried out in a cloud instead of a mobile device, a fast and reliable 5G connection can potentially deliver sound final experiences to the user, (e.g. – rendering images before they are streamed to the headset). 

Further to this, the low latency, high reliability, and bandwidth of the network would help the technology deliver more distributed learning and collaborative environments. The implementation and consumption of AR experiences in the consumer and at the enterprise level will become seamless with the growth of 5G. 

A snapshot of its other benefits is covered below: 

Empowered AI, Empowered XR

The combination of 5G, AI, and XR is all set to transform the mobile industry for the next generation of immersive computing, says Said Bakadir, Director of XR Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

The networking world would soon be equipped for connecting visually everything, driving smarter experiences, to create a world powered by XR.

While Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already making waves across the world, a robust network in 5G would only propel its usage and development – a doctor ordered for the growth of device-based XR experiences. Embrace yourself for:

  • 5G facilitates the use of AR/VR in live, outdoor environments, providing increased scope for the types of interactions and integrations that developers can build.
  • State-of-the-art contextual awareness
  • Speech synthesis: text to speech or vice versa, along with live translation
  • Increased perception levels via AI-based SLAM (Simultaneous Location & Mapping), hand-tracking, body-tracking, eye-tracking, low-latency motion tracking.
  • Virtual assistants like Alexa
  • Predictive Intelligence
  • Holographic AI agent
  • Ultra-reliable, Low Latency Wireless Connection

As of now, many of the VR Head-Mounted Displays (HMDs) require the support of a powerful PC. When 5G arrives, it could push the storage and processing power away from the PCs and into the edge cloud. Meaning, VR experiences of the future need only a headset and can be consumed anytime, anywhere.

“A 5G network provides up to a million connections per square kilometer.” – Huawei

Content is King

Content will continue to play a crucial (and improved) role in the overall XR experience. 5G will improve the content we interact with, as well as the devices in which we would consume these interactive experiences – thanks to smaller, lighter, and more efficient devices. The future will truly be a global village, because the experience will get so surreal, defying all the limitations of the reality landscape.   

Smart City, Driverless Future, and Increased Traffic Controls 

  • An increase in the number of connected devices will lead to the deployment of many sensors in smart cities and buildings. 
  • Inside buildings, Bluetooth technology is already making it possible to track people, vehicles, and equipment. 5G will facilitate the transmission of a lot more data with the Internet of Things (IoT). Imagine hospital beds that constantly update doctors on the vital signs of a patient.
  • A smart city with thousands of cameras could have multiple use cases. It can instruct people around a traffic situation, advise people on parking zones, etc. 
  • The introduction of autonomous vehicles, experts say, will allow cars to interact with each other and their environment. Cars may also have the capability to record the condition of their oil/brakes, intimating the owners and connecting them directly to the designated repair facilities. 
  • The unique combination of high-speed connectivity, low latency, and ubiquitous coverage will open doors to a future with reduced traffic jams, shortened commute times, and fewer road accidents. 

According to the National League of Cities, two-thirds of American municipalities have already invested in smart city technology. To state a few examples, San Diego has installed smart lighting systems that switch off on their own when no one is around and Pittsburgh is working on a project to build LEDs that contain sensors to maintain air quality. 

Studies suggest that nearly 95 percent of traffic accidents are caused by human error. Removing humans from behind the wheel could save up to 1.25 million lives every year 

Work  

The biggest impact on 5G would be on the industrial and commercial IoT. Virtual Reality Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, etc., are already changing the way of work. Location beacons are already transforming the way goods move from inventory through shipping and delivery. Precision sensors make use of soil sensors and airborne cameras to identify any crop disease. And 5G would play a major role in acting as a catalyst, as much of these technologies require enhanced connectivity. 

Telehealth

Telehealth, despite its tremendous need and potential, is now subject to blackouts due to poor connectivity. Its reliability is under the scanner, but wouldn’t remain so for too long. The internet speed of the future, combined with the personal medical kits being worked on, would allow people with contagious diseases to be diagnosed remotely.   

Virtual Rehabs would be the order of the day People can follow their respective exercise regimens without worrying about picking up their phone for appointments (Click here to know more). 

 “5G will open the door to important developments in personalized, anywhere, anytime medicine,”  – Dr. David Teece, professor at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

High-speed wireless networks will also enable AR Surgery. Here’s what the CEO of TNQ InGage has to say on this. 

Conclusion 

It wasn’t long back when 3G networks were the mainstay of the networking world; it took 10 years for 4G to enter the fray and be so commonplace and important. So yes, 5G will change the way the world functions, the only question is when. 

The network wouldn’t catch companies by surprise either, as we now have a clear idea of what 5G means and what it could bring to the table – meaning, we are doing our homework well. However, the forthcoming era prompts IoT suppliers to carefully evaluate and understand the ways 5G could be utilized in their respective domains of interest. Change is inevitable, and the way forward is to embrace it.