The physical world we live in brings us many wonders. But over the recent decades the digital world has expanded so quickly, touching many aspects of our lives from the way we socialize, conduct business, and entertain ourselves.
Today, many of us (me included) wonder how we ever managed without our smartphones delivering all the information we need, some that we don’t, and of course making phone calls, wherever and whenever. Both a blessing and a curse, the second you look at that screen it forces us to interact with digital world and becomes a blocking effect on interacting with the physical world around us. Technology is about furthering our capabilities and enhancing our lives in a positive way, so blocking out how we engage with our incredible, amazing physical world and the people in it could seem at odds with our desire to move forward.
Can we have it all? If yes, what would that look like and how would we do it?
We certainly have made incredible advances in computing, the display capability of smartphones, and cellular networks which has spawned a new generation of smart devices. And these new smart device are changing how we interact, where some are like glasses able to project digital data with images overlayed onto the physical world around us, commonly known as Augmented Reality (AR). This is getting us closer to bridging the physical and digital worlds together but there is still something missing……….
What if you could hold a physical object and extend your senses by having the object connect through the network with the digital world, it’s hidden inner details and workings revealed to you. When you manipulate the physical object you see it change instantly in it’s digital augmented form. The digital world, now responding to your physical world interactions for the very first time is breaking that barrier and bringing these two worlds together.
There are a couple of key technologies required to make this happen.
The first is having sensors embededed into objects, allowing us to create vast amounts of useful data. Today we know this as the Internet of Things (IoT) and in 5G this capability is defined as massive machine type communications (mMTC). Secondly, to visualise this, we also need transmit video with very low delay in the network. In 5G this capability is called enhanced mobile broaband (eMBB).
To ensure the experience is optimal, the sensor and video information must be in sync, which requires the data to be processed very quickly and transmitted back to the users.
To do this, the network needs to understand where you are located and to move the processing of this information to servers on the edge of the network that are located as close as possible to the users in order to ensure a timely response. We need a form of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make these decisions autonomously and in real-time.
It is this combination of 5G connectivity, with edge cloud computing and cognitive intelligence that will make all of this a reality. We are taking the first steps in this brave new world as Nokia Bell Labs is developing technology to intelligently move the application processing across the network and bringing these technologies into 5G solutions from Nokia that are creating the first steps into this new world.
During CES 2019, we are demonstrating with our partner Intel how this technology can be used to transform the experience of a well known puzzle game, the Rubik’s cube!
Through sensors inside the cube, a mixed reality display, and intelligent edge processing, attendees can get help from either another player or a digital assistant in the edge cloud on how to solve the puzzle. At last, anyone and everyone can be become a solver of the cube!
While this demonstrates how consumer type entertainment services can be enhanced, there are many opportunities in the business sector too. Imagine the possibilities of having connected tools in manufacturing that guide you in how to use them or interactive medical instruments that provide critical feedback on a patient during a procedure. The possibilities are endless.
The relationship between humans and machines is constantly evolving. While we are accustomed to the barriers between our digital and physical worlds we must find ways to break these down and deliver the most natural and intutive forms of communication and interactions.
5G will undoubtly be a transformative technology and maybe the first that let’s us see and interact with our world in ways we never imagined possible. I can’t wait to explore!
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