With the promise of increased connection stability and downloads, 5G is shaping up to become a driving force for AR/VR development.

The 5G network has long been discussed by many of the worlds internet providers. And it’s easy to see why. The 5G network offers a lot in regards to download speeds, a reduction in latency and increased availability for multiple devices. With all of these advancements, we can’t help but think about what it means for virtual and augmented reality. And while the network will take years to develop, we expect to see quick and exciting changes soon.

Increased Download Speeds

Download speeds have always been a important topic among the tech savvy and gamers, and rightly so. This is because download speeds play a very large role in how effectively you can do anything on the internet. This isn’t just limited to gamers, even wanting to watch videos on YouTube required a solid download speed these days. This is just the same for virtual and augmented reality.

According to an article by Digital Trends, the 5G network could reach maximum download speeds between 1Gbps and 10Gbps. Compare this to the maximum download speed of the 4G network, between 300Mbps and 1Gbps, it is easy to understand the excitement.

The download speeds that will come from the 5G network will play a large role in the capabilities VR/AR headsets. Right now, the average VR headsets rely on the capabilities of the computer they are plugged into. Except for the Oculus Quest of course.

Image Credit: Techerati

This means that a quality virtual reality experience is restricted to those who have spent money on high quality computers. 5G can fix this. 5G will allow VR developers to create headsets less reliant on computer hardware because they will have a high speed connection to the internet. This means that like the Oculus Quest, 5G headsets will be able to potentially use servers to access applications rather than relying on hardware.

This will allow for a better quality all-round virtual reality experience when gaming. Augmented reality will also reap these benefits. By having quicker download speeds, during industrial use, AR technology will be able to access and draw information from the cloud at quicker speeds. Letting users access databases quicker and letting VR become a better work tool.

Reducing Latency

The reduction in latency promised with the release of the 5G network will have a key impact on immersive technology in the future. Latency is the time it takes for a packet of data to be transported from one place to another. Such as the time it takes for a device to transport information to a server whilst playing a game. This latency can have a very large impact on how usable an application is, especially when the network is busy.

Because VR and AR are so reliant on real time physical movements by the user, latency can have an even larger impact than in normal circumstances. When attempting to perform precise movements using either of these software, high latency can make the program almost unusable.

With the massive increase in download speeds expected from 5G, latency will become very low. If this is the case, that would mean the elimination of a massive limitation for VR and AR together, especially for industrial applications. For example, imagine attempting to perform surgery with an AR overlay displaying real time important information. Now imagine a half second delay on every action. It becomes very easy to see how this can limit immersive technology.

Augmented Reality in surgery
Image Credit: The Augmentarium at the University of Maryland (illustration by Brian G. Payne)

Increased Number of Possible Device Connections

An advantage of the 5G network that will have a positive impact everywhere is its dramatically increased connection capacity. Because of how the 5G network is setup, the number of devices that can successful connect to the network without reducing bandwidth will be increased. This will therefor pave the way for the growth of the Internet of Things.

While this doesn’t directly help advance virtual reality technology, it does pave the way for virtual and augmented reality to become truly mainstream. With the current capacity limit of the network, VR/AR would not be able to take off on a massive scale. The 5G network doesn’t have this limitation and according to Qualcomm, will allow for 100 times more network traffic than 4G.

The rollout of the 5G network will have a huge impact on the virtual and augmented reality industry. The increased speed and capacity of the network will help turn virtual reality into household technology. This new network will probably even help us develop new technology that we have never thought of before. Regardless, 5G can’t come soon enough to this growing industry.

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