- A predicted next wave of 5G-connected VR devices could bring the metaverse on the road.
- If you want high-speed data while using VR on the go, your best option is to use a Wi-Fi hotspot.
- Researchers are developing a robot for combat medicine controlled using a VR headset connected to 5G.
You may soon be able to take your virtual reality (VR) headset with a built-in high-speed data connection.
A new report indicates that 30% of augmented reality products and 23% of virtual reality shipments will include cellular connectivity by 2027. Major virtual reality headset manufacturers currently do not offer built-in high-speed 5G connections, but once they do, it makes a big difference in how you use the device and even help wounded soldiers in the battlefield.
“The future of virtual reality won’t be limited to living rooms or offices,” Danny Parks, vice president of technology for mixed reality agency Trigger XR, told Lifewire in an email interview. “It will be where people are. And mobile data will be a critical part of connecting the physical world to digital spaces and virtual worlds.”
Faster Mobile VR
Most current VR headsets get their data from a local Wi-Fi hotspot or through the computer they are connected to via a patch cable. The lack of mobile broadband options for virtual reality may be for a reason.
“5G absolutely plays a key role in AR and VR, but it depends on the time and the use cases,” said Eric Abbruzzese, research director at ABI Research, the company that authored the report on the mobile data, in the press release. “Most use cases today don’t require the latency and bandwidth improvements that come with 5G. However, push connectivity needs to match more users in more places, consuming more types of content over time.”
The future of virtual reality will not be limited to living rooms or offices. It will be where the people are.
If you want to use a VR headset on the go, the current best option for most people is to use a cellular hotspot stream, said TJ Vitolo, head of mobile products for telecommunications company Verizon, to Lifewire in an email interview. “However, these place a Wi-Fi network between the device and the 5G network. Verizon is currently working on solutions to provide direct 5G network access to VR devices.”
But Vitolo predicted that once 5G becomes widely available for headsets, it could make a big difference to users. He said 5G’s attributes beyond mobility make it significantly better than most indoor wireless networks, including Wi-Fi.
“Extremely low latency, ultra-high bandwidth, and support for large numbers of simultaneous connections make 5G the best network choice for virtual reality,” he added. “In cases where running multiple devices in one place is essential, such as group trainings or entertainment scenarios, 5G provides superior scalability and performance.”
The future of mobile virtual reality
For soldiers, high-speed data and virtual reality could be a life-saving combination. British researchers are developing a medical triage robot remotely controlled by a doctor using a VR headset. Data from the camera could be sent to the doctor using a 5G or other high-speed data connection.
Currently, combat casualties are cared for by a medical technician rather than a doctor. On the battlefield, available equipment and facilities are limited before patients can be safely transferred to a more advanced medical facility, which can take hours or even days.
“Developing a remote-controlled robotic system would significantly improve safety by reducing the number of dangers that military personnel are exposed to on the front lines,” said project leader Sanja Dogramadzi of the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering. from the University of Sheffield. Press release. “Our platform uses the latest technology and would integrate it in a way that has never been done before.”
Civilians may soon get 5G connectivity for virtual reality. Earlier this year, Verizon announced it was working with radio vendors to create companion 5G devices for High Mobility Devices (HMDs), including VR headsets.
“These devices bring all the benefits of a 5G network to an HMD by physically connecting it, via cable, to a separate device,” Vitolo said. “In our current approach, we are building a neckband; but it could be any number of form factors that suit the use case. As the size and cost of 5G radio improves over time , as with other generations of past radios (3G/4G), integration directly into the device would become more common.”
Parks predicted that the next generation of VR devices will blur the lines between virtual reality and augmented reality thanks to the power of high-speed mobile data. “This will allow users to seamlessly switch between virtual, augmented and physical worlds,” he added.
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