The arrival of the 5G or the fifth generation mobile network is not just about faster download speeds. It’s the next big thing in the age of interconnectivity.
The network promises increased speeds of up to 100 times of 4G, and will power a whole new world of interconnectivity by providing the infrastructure needed to transmit huge amounts of data in seconds.
From self-driving vehicles to artificial intelligence-enabled medicine and virtual spaces, 5G will revolutionise how we work, live and play.
Self-driving vehicles are envisioned to be the future of transportation. Computers and artificial intelligence (AI) takes over the steering wheel, freeing up humans to enjoy the journey.
However for smart cars to work, they need to continuously collect data from sensors that are placed all around the car, send it to nearby smart cars and then receive information back from them. It’s a stream of data for just two cars; with a city full of them, the data flow will turn into a tsunami. Current data networks will simply crumble under the weight of so much information.
5G will be able to support not just the higher volume of data, but deliver them more quickly in a secure and stable fashion. These are critical for computers to make decisions, in real time without lag.
5G will be critical for the development of smart cities. Without the infrastructure to support the sheer volume of data that will travel from one device to another, these cities will not be complete.
Take the humble streetlight as an example. With 5G, streetlight 2.0 could do much more than light the roads and streets at night. Armed with sensors, it can help monitor temperature, rainfall, track faces and even spot speeding cars.
Such developments will, in turn, fuel greater conveniences, and provide higher levels of safety.
Internet of Robots
The past few years have seen an explosion of the Internet of Things. But the next wave of inter-connectivity, supported by 5G, will be the Internet of Robots.
Robots are progressively being deployed in industries to do the most menial jobs, from manufacturing to food processing and even mining. They will boost efficiencies, cut wastage and raise productivity.
And while current 4G networks can support robots, having a 5G platform will turbocharge their performance.
With stronger cellular networks, costs of robots are also expected to fall. For instance, instead of having individual processors embedded in each robot, 5G will allow robots at a factory to be linked back to a cloud-based AI processor.
For most people, getting sick means heading to the doctors, getting a consultation, and collecting medicine.
But the future of medicine is likely to involve a screen, wearable technology, and lots of data.
Today, telemedicine already exists in some form. Several cities, including Singapore, have launched new ways of consulting a doctor over video conference for instance. For more complicated treatments, however, a visit to the hospital remains necessary.
With 5G, robots and AI will do much more of the heavy lifting when it comes to diagnosis and treatment. With the ability to analyse data gathered from wearable health tech, doctors, with the aid of computers, can quickly and efficiently diagnose conditions, and then later monitor patients remotely.
In fact, remote surgery – executed by robots but guided by doctors – is a distinct possibility with 5G. This means that professional medical expertise is now within closer reach for those living in rural and difficult-to-access areas.
The arrival of 5G will also herald new experiences, from sports to entertainment. One big industry that will greatly benefit from ultra-low latencies is the gaming industry.
Augmented reality (AR) games, which blend the physical and cyber worlds, are extremely data intensive. One minute of AR consumes 33 more times data traffic than a single minute of a regular YouTube video.
With 5G however, this means being to play games in an extremely detailed environment. Think Pokemon Go, but on steroids.
In addition, consumers will also be able to get a much more intimate experience with sports events and even concerts through the introduction of virtual reality-enabled spaces. If you’re a sports lover, you can now look forward to the possibility of immersive experiences and relish every goal scored at your favourite games.
Find out more about the United Global Innovation Fund, which invests in innovative companies across various industries.
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