Technology has always been an enabler for human potential. When we look back on some of the key innovations that have changed the world, you may consider the invention of the steam engines in 1712 that drove the Industrial Revolution. Perhaps you think about the founding of the Internet that led to a more connected and globalized world. Regardless of the innovation, there have been key moments in our history that have defined how following generations would interact with the world – moments that we sometimes take for granted.
As consumers, we often don't think about the work that goes into making technological advancements a reality. But the technological evolution we have grown accustomed to is at yet another turning point, with the upcoming introduction of 5G.
The capabilities that will arrive with 5G are an absolute necessity for the Internet of Things (IoT) to realize its potential. The world has big plans for the IoT, but its power can't be leveraged unless the network connectivity is there to support it. In fact, "one-third of all executives say that their current networks already can't support the evolving needs of their business," according to a recent study by Forbes Insights.
Here are three industries that will add new capabilities to our world with 5G and the power of software:
Earlier this month, two mobile operators in the U.S. and South Korea held the first ever international 3D hologram call to showcase the early capabilities of 5G. The purpose was to demonstrate the bandwidth and speed strength of 5G, but that's just the beginning.
A new era of remote collaboration may be right around the corner. "Virtual reality users will be able to collaborate as if they are in the same physical location," states Nokia. Using a mask or another device, users will be able to interact with each other in a virtual world. The way we conduct remote collaboration and telepresence will revolutionize business appliances and processes as well as distance learning. Gamers are in for a treat, too.
When 5G is running at its full power, companies will make virtual and augmented reality a part of our every day "reality," driving innovation that applies to other industries.
Healthcare has many applications that could benefit from uninterrupted wireless connectivity. What companies are referring to as the "Internet of skills" is another area where low latency comes in handy.
For example, recently Ericsson and Neurodigital Technologies partnered to explore opportunities to improve how healthcare is delivered. Combining the powers of various technologies with 5G, these companies are enabling the possibility to do remote surgery, even from long distances. Using dummy patients, they have been showcasing how a surgeon could perform an actual operation in another location, using a VR headset and a special, glove-controlled robot arm.
But surgeries are not the only healthcare practices where 5G could make a difference. Through speedy wireless connectivity and vast coverage, telemedicine could reach new heights as well. Patients could be seen by a doctor in a hologram or virtual reality setting. While this provides patients a cheaper and more convenient option, it gives doctors and healthcare providers easy access to medical records for the patient. By eliminating distance barriers, access to medical services can be improved and provided to rural areas as well.
The shift from mechanical to software-driven vehicles has been a reality for some time now. As our reliance on software increases, our needs and expectations out of everyday "devices" rise as well. Automobiles are no exception—in fact, they currently require more than 150 million lines of code.
While autonomous cars do not need 5G to work, 5G will certainly make them work better. Consider non-critical information—such as temperature, traction conditions, congestion and route plans—being passed up to the cloud for intelligent use by other cars. An autonomous vehicle can utilize the information to make better decisions regarding routing, based on the anticipated conditions. By having a larger view of the environment instead of relying on data based on immediate surroundings, autonomous cars can anticipate and make suggestions to make the driving experience more efficient.
With the vehicle doing all the work for you, you can sit back and enjoy a high resolution movie or video call – all powered by 5G.
Utilizing 5G as the ultimate enabler, the software economy will fuel significant economic growth. But the opportunities don't end with healthcare, automotive and the power of virtual and augmented reality. Many other industries will see significant benefits over the next five years, including energy and utilities, transportation, among others.