Part two of this article will look at how 5G will enhance technology and have a big impact on businesses in the future. Click here to read part one, where I discuss the immediate impact of 5G on businesses.
There’s a lot of hype around technology that has potential, but hasn’t taken hold in businesses quite yet. Last year AI caused a lot of buzz (and still does). But this year, we’re slowly starting to see businesses implement AI and machine learning solutions. Though virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and blockchain offer a lot of potential for businesses, many haven’t implemented these solutions yet. This is due to cost, availability and compatibility with current technology. 5G will change that. The rollout of 5G will have a big impact on how businesses adopt these technologies.
5G will have significantly faster speeds than past generations. Initial tests from Qualcomm recorded browsing speeds more than seven times faster than the average 4G browsing rate, and with theoretical limits going up to 20 Gbps, there is much more room for even greater speed increases. High speed, combined with low latency, and additional wireless spectrum and MIMO antenna technology makes 5G the fastest and most reliable connection businesses have ever seen. This type of connectivity is ideal for enterprise BYOD initiatives, mobility, and IoT devices that businesses are currently investing in. It’s also ideal for data-intensive applications like AR and VR, which businesses are slowly starting to adopt. While 5G is likely still three to five years away for most businesses, so are VR/AR and blockchain initiatives.
Enabling Widespread AR Adoption
When most people think of VR and AR, they associate games like Pokémon Go AR+ mode. However, AR has incredible potential in the business landscape, and the technology is here. Unlike VR which requires a headset, all a user needs to access AR is a recent smartphone, something that employees already have on hand. The problem is, not many businesses realize the potential.
One example of AR’s potential is improving employee training through contextual documentation and resources, step-by-step virtual guidance and realistic simulation. Since AR requires employees to engage different senses, it creates a more immersive learning experience, which often resonates better with employees and helps them learn faster. Another example is projecting references and demonstrations as a digital storyboard, which helps engineers by saving costs in physical design and time spent designing, quality improvement and more. However, for AR to be effective, it requires network connection.
AR requires massive amounts of data to be processed, and fixed reliable internet connects in order to feed in data remotely. While 4G is considered fast in terms of streaming video and sharing content, it’s not quick enough to handle intensive AR/VR on its own. Limitations in bandwidth, latency and consistency severely hinder AR’s full potential. 5G network speeds will be able to handle high-resolution video and new innovative media like AR and VR a lot more smoothly.
AR is a technology that’s available today, but most businesses don’t take full advantage of it. When 5G comes to fruition, it will enable employees to use their cellphones to access AR applications and improve job processes on the fly without having to rely on fixed internet connections, which will drive more adoption.
Supporting Business’ Investment in Blockchain
Like AR, blockchain isn’t exactly new to the world, but relatively new in the context of business adoption. Blockchain initially took off in the late 2000s alongside electronic currencies such as bitcoin. Recently, experts are looking to apply the technology across a number of industries, and there are already blockchains in use.
Blockchain is a network where every transaction – such as exchange of data or goods and services – is permanently recorded in digital blocks across multiple decentralized databases. Each block contains the history of that particular transaction and every transaction before it, with note of the exact time it occurred down to the micro-second. The linking of these transactions, or blocks, is what makes the blockchain. Blockchain has a lot of potential for businesses because it eliminates a single point of failure, cyberattacks, and control by any one entity, ensuring immutability. In short, it’s the most accurate and secure log of information a business can have.
Coordinating IoT devices and blockchain servers is where 5G comes in. 5G’s speed and reliability makes it ideal for real-time “communication” between devices. Currently, batch or near real-time transactions are ultimately responsible for logging information in the blockchain. In the future, IoT sensors can feed data directly into the blocks real-time and recorded into the blockchain. Real-time communication will ensure that exact transaction times are logged accurately and feeding data directly from IoT devices to the blockchain removes the risk for human error.
Blockchain is just starting to be adopted outside the cryptocurrency industry, but it has the potential to transform the way businesses store data. The upcoming rollout of 5G will make blockchain management fast, simple and accurate.
Technologies like IoT, AR/VR, blockchain and AI have potential to optimize business processes and help businesses save on critical resources. 5G will only bolster the abilities of these technologies, and help businesses to adopt them. 5G won’t have a widespread impact for a few years, but businesses can expect immense benefits when it does.