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Entertainment leveraging on 5G

Entertainment may exploit 5G to deliver new experiences…. Image credit: Forbes

The area of entertainment will be seeing significant changes and the one leading the pack, with a potential impact on communications requirements, is going to be augmented reality, AR. Notice that AR already, and more so in the future, is being applied in a variety of areas. We already have had applications in industrial sectors, for the maintenance of complex systems like aircraft engines, in health care where AR is being used to assist surgeons by augmenting the information directly on the operating field, overlaying images derived from MRI and TAC, in automotive a few cars are already providing HUDs (Head Up Display) using the windshield, in tourism, in real estate not to mention important application in military area.

However, the entertainment arena, for its mass market characteristics, is bound to take over in terms of market value (thanks to volumes) and most important in terms of innovation, because of its shorter life cycles and sheer volumes.

AR started in niches where price was not an issue as long as it could bring value, think about the fixing of an aircraft engine where the AR systems cost is more than offset by the possibility to execute the fixing in any place in the world by providing the required skill guiding the maintenance crew through AR. In the last few years the cost of systems capable to provide a good AR experience has decreased to the point of becoming within the range of the mass market affordability, most recent smartphones provide support to run AR applications.
Pokemon GO has been the first game raising mass market awareness on the entertaining aspects of AR and so many more are coming that ranking of the best AR gaming apps are now common.

It is now extending beyond gaming, as an example to music, giving, as an example, the possibility to enjoy a famous singer seeing her performing in our kitchen or engage in a karaoke with a famous pianist that appeared in our living room. AR has reached the point that some are starting to see it as an entertainment in itself.

To enjoy AR one needs an appropriate terminal onto with the various real and virtual images are merged. It can be your smartphone screen as well as a surface in your home or in the car, it can even be the back of the seat in front of you at a movie theatre. What matters is that the experience gets very personal and this requires a strong integration at the terminal level. In turns this implies a seamless communications systems able to “bring” the world into the terminal.

For this reason the 5G might turn out to be better than the 3 and 4G. These latter support, obviously, AR (Pokemon GO didn’t even required the 4G to be played) but the possibility to manage several channels at the same time, provided by 5G, that can bring on the fruition point several streams of information/images/clips, local and remote, might lead to a much more engaging experience.

The entertainment area can benefit from 5G also in the multiplayer gaming arena, where the lower latency should increase realisms in action games with players acting from remote locations and in addition the management of multiple channels can help in taking advantage, at the same time, of local and global networks.

The increased availability of bandwidth, at a lower cost (!), will push further the streaming of content, at the expenses of downloading and ownership. It has already happened with the 4G and 5G, if it becomes pervasive, will further this trend.

One could also imagine that the possibility of 5G to operate on local networks, with a smartphone becoming a network node, could enable new forms of participative fruition: a smartphone receives streaming content and acts as a hub broadcasting that content, possibly with some variation to a specific audience. We are starting to see a few people commenting soccer matches and having a growing audience that appreciate watching the game with their comment. This can take a further spin with the possibility offered by 5G. Obviously this opens a can of worms, with issues on copyrights but it would indeed open up new biz opportunity to many, including the content providers.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. He's currently Head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital, co-chair of the Symbiotic Autonomous Systems Initiative of IEEE-FDC. Until Aprile 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books. He writes a daily blog,  http://sites.ieee.org/futuredirections/category/blog/, with commentary on innovation in various technology and market areas.

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