Huawei has put an approachable face on the future of 5G wireless technology with an innovative — and somewhat terrifying — immersive virtual reality experience.
This afternoon in Barcelona we took a tour through Huawei’s Enterprise Business Group stand at Mobile World Congress, although calling it a stand is a disservice; the ‘stand’ is the size of a city block, including many cafes, a buffet restaurant out the back, and a swathe of technology demos in the middle.
We saw some fascinating things being done in the realm of IoT (Internet of Things), including smart water meters and smart parking solutions, which communicate over the carrier networks to central systems to monitor things like broken water mains, availability of parking spaces.
It sounds a bit mundane, but it really is quite cool; instead of maintaining expensive monitoring systems with thousands of kilometres of cable and switching systems, utility companies can use IoT devices with 20-30 year battery life which communicate over existing LTE networks, saving companies millions of dollars in labour, communications, maintenance and more. This is from a future that isn’t really here yet, but companies like South East Water in Victoria are rolling out this technology today, with some 30,000 IoT smart devices coming online each year from 2017.
The real highlight of the tour, though, was the 5G technology demo. VR experiences thus far are either tethered to a very powerful computer by cable (such as HTC’s Vive) or rely on a smartphone to deliver the experience (like Google’s Daydream, or Samsung’s Gear VR). Huawei’s VR demo, though, used 5G wireless technology to deliver not only streaming 360° visuals to the headset, but also to track your motion in real time.
This made for one hell of an experience. You can see me having a go in this video below:
After I was filmed enjoying this experience (and let me tell you, I would pay good money to play this game a second, third and maybe a fourth time), I watched Tech Guide’s Stephen Fenech and Fairfax’s Peter Wells have a go, and let me tell you — it was hilarious. Pete let out a few squeals, and it was hard to be critical; the zombies come out of nowhere, and they’re terrifyingly real.
As much fun as the game was, it shows us the potential of 5G: low latency networks, extreme bandwidth for real-time data, and the possibility of much.
Chris, Jason and Duncan travelled to MWC 2017 with sponsorship from Alcatel, Huawei and Motorola.