With the industry buzzing about this year’s Mobile World Congress, the talk around 5G and announcements from major operators about 5G continue to be hot topics of discussion throughout the mobile world. While we have written in the past about the technological innovations inherent in 5G, we have since had many QDN developers ask how they can prepare for this next generation of wireless technology. Since Qualcomm Technologies has been working on 5G for many years, we thought it might be helpful to add a developer perspective by answering a few questions we have received from the community.
What are some of the key attributes of 5G that we as developers should keep in mind?
We here at QDN see four principal areas of differentiation between 4G and 5G:
- Faster, fiber-like speeds without wires
- Lower latency near one millisecond
- Greater capacity to potentially accommodate billions of IoT devices
- More uniform experience across all kinds of coverage conditions
What killer app should I develop that can best utilize a 5G network?
Similar to 4G, we don’t anticipate there being one app to rule them all. Rather, given the new features of 5G, you will find the increases in transmission speeds, reduced latency, and vast improvement in reliability can give you new opportunities to turn on your creativity for a variety of new apps and additive user experiences in a range of form factors. 5G is sure to facilitate areas like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and IoT across all sorts of mobile devices.
What type of devices will we see with the coming of 5G?
5G will be able to connect to smaller, lower powered devices. So, in addition to our familiar mobile smartphone form factor, 5G will support a range of devices and sensors from automobiles to wearables and small hubs. This will likely facilitate a greater concentration of devices, perhaps in crowded urban areas, or in remote locations that just aren’t possible with 4G. For example, a crowded downtown core could consist of a wide variety of sensors, measuring everything from foot and vehicle traffic to the weather, and all working in concert over 5G to keep people moving and facilities operating smoothly.
What can we develop for 5G that is not possible today with 4G?
Ambient computing is one area that will have a lot to gain. Ambient encompasses the idea that digital user experiences can occur all around the user at any time, blending into other everyday occurrences, thanks to an endless variety of devices and sensors. And thanks to the promise of 5G connectivity, your applications can become “ambient” thanks to continual data communications. For example, you might build wearable technology that can constantly track location, biometric and other data as a user traverses an area, and then provide real-time feedback. This could come in the form of AI and machine learning, which can generate on-the-fly recommendations.
How will 5G affect XR technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)? What should we consider?
When planning for 5G, think of ways your games or experiences can be highly interactive and more responsive. Already developing multi-player games? 5G will make it possible to present them in virtual reality at any location, meaning tethered VR experiences will become a thing of the past. Your users can take their heads-up displays anywhere and anytime they want, and have the best six degrees of freedom (6DoF) experience thanks to the reduced lag time and constant connectivity.
With the faster speeds of 5G, an AR experience can be brought to live events where users can experience stats or conversations with the entertainers in real time. In health care, emergency response personnel can deliver a more immediate diagnosis and care in cooperation with specialized remote medical care workers by assessing a patient through high-fidelity video chats enhanced with AR overlays that display data collected through biometric sensors.
How will 5G affect Internet of Things (IoT)?
As IoT applications expand with increased devices and sensors, more data will be created. With 5G you’ll be better able to respond to critical or time sensitive data. Smart city projects will be able to connect more citizens through the installation of sensors in dense locations, to make many conveniences available such as rerouting traffic in case of accidents, or simply optimizing the flow of traffic at intersections based on traffic volume.
Industrial IoT will be possible in applications supporting remote agriculture or mining operations that can access cloud-based data storage, analysis and artificial intelligence. This could allow for better and faster decisions to be made in the field or on a job site, rather than waiting to transmit information when connectivity becomes available.
Another area where 5G could make an impact is with large conferences and expositions. Attendees will no longer think twice about where to find a fast Internet connection, so you might want to start thinking of applications that can help them find their way and connect with other registrants that hasn’t been done before.
How will 5G affect artificial intelligence and machine learning?
The speed of 5G will bring the power of data to more industries and allow many devices at the edge to send information automatically. Your AI app will have to process more information than ever thanks to the sheer amount of data that will be produced. With an ever-growing collection of AI and machine learning frameworks, your applications should consider both edge computing and tight integration with sophisticated back-end cloud platforms.
For example, consider a power grid that now has real-time information on weather, crowds and pollution that can assess a situation in order to meet environmental and pollution obligations and fluctuating power demands. With the multitude of sensors required to feed this information in real-time from virtually anywhere, the smart power grid can become even more intelligent with access to real-time machine learning.
As you can tell, the conversations around 5G and its impact for developers has only just begun. We expect to see a variety of 5G pilot projects next year and global rollouts in 2020, so we encourage you to stay informed and keep abreast of all the latest developments. Our Qualcomm Technologies OnQ blog is a great place to learn how we are helping drive advancements in 5G connectivity. And of course, we plan to continue uncovering new and unique opportunities for our QDN community with resources as they become available.