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Achieving a Better Tomorrow Is Possible, From Education to Enterprises, With the Combination of AR and 5G Technologies – Huawei BWS 2021
June 24, 2021 News


Individual technologies unleash new capabilities to the world. When combined, they can enhance each other, bringing something that is greater than the sum of its parts. Augmented Reality (AR) and 5G are great examples, as discussed in the Better World Summit 2021 organised by Huawei.

How 5G + AR Convergence Will Accelerate the Digital Power of Shenzhen

Starting the conference is He Chengjian, Director of the Shenzhen Communication Management Bureau, who talked about the state of 5G + AR adoption in Shenzhen, the technology capital of China.

According to Chengjian, IT technologies are now ushering in the reform of technologies and industrial infrastructure, as this plays a central role in driving investment consumption, creating jobs and improving overall competitiveness. “We need to find new ways to better leverage such infrastructure and AR with information communication services becoming an important driving force for digital transformation that would definitely change the way of our life,” he explained.

In Shenzhen, 5G is already enabling smart-power grids, manufacturing, transportation, healthcare and sports. Shenzhen has also won a national competition contest of 5G applications, creating more value for the city in 2020. As such, Chengjian mentioned four key initiatives to be implemented for the convergence of 5G + AR in the city.

First, the Shenzhen Communication Management Bureau would enable an environment for the AR industry based on the demands of enterprises and consumers. This means the boost of the deployment of new infrastructure, including 5G, industrial internet and IoT, as well as AI, cloud computing, blockchain and other new technologies that will play an important role in this journey.

The second measure the Bureau would implemented is the exploration of possibilities in different use cases to validate AR technologies. “At the same time, we would like to find new demands from different use-cases of AR technology so as to encourage each iteration. We would like to first prioritise healthcare, education, entertainment, tourism, logistics and other key industries to quickly transfer the research result of 5G and AR into commercialisation,” Chengjian added.

Third, the Bureau would focus on the research on AR so it can deliver extra value for customer demands and experience. The 5G industry would also be further converged to encourage the democratisation of AR applications. Lastly, the Bureau plans to increase the corporations across different sectors to promote the cooperation of innovation elements from both China and overseas markets. In this way, Shenzhen can push the research and development of AR to be faster so that the boundaries between the world and the digital world will be dissolved.

Unlocking New Opportunities Different Industries with AR + 5G

According to David MacQueen, Executive Director of Strategy Analytics, the AR market is already maturing, with 1.5 billion AR-enabled devices already in use, such as smartphone and headsets. The market revenue is also already at USD6 billion, largely due to the use of mobile applications featuring AR, including Pokémon GO, Snapchat and TikTok.

However, the price and size of dedicated AR devices remain a barrier to their widespread adoption. As a solution, David said that tethering AR glasses or headsets to smartphones could bring both size and cost concerns down.

“Every consumer has a smartphone in their pocket today. By tethering the AR device, the processing power and the connectivity are offloaded to the smartphone. This means the device can have much fewer components. It brings down the weight and opens up new possibilities,” explained David.

Compared to a standalone AR headset that weighs 566 grams and costs up to USD3500, a smartphone-tethered device is only 85 grams and costs only USD600 or lower.

Aside from that, good connectivity and a rich experience that 5G networks can deliver will be essential for AR devices. LG U+, the carrier arm of LG, is a great case study when it comes to marketing 5G with AR. According to David, LG U+’s strategy has produced good results for them, already helping to deliver a 12% increase in their service revenue.

While it is known that AR would be of great use in commerce, where consumers would have a 3D model of their desired products, the potential for AR, which can be unlocked with 5G, is much greater. Different use cases were highlighted by invited speakers from various industries as the event went on.

AR Applications in Media and Broadcasting

Huang He, Chief Producer of Shenzhen TV Station, then demonstrated the uses of AR for the daily content production for TV programs, speeches, variety shows, cultural programs, long live broadcasts, product launches, news programs and weather forecasts.

For example, in a four-hour event where the host needs to take a break, Liya, a virtual host projected on the screen, will fill up the space for the meantime. Another example is the use of AR to change the backgrounds of a ten-hour long broadcast so that users would not be bored while watching.

AR is also used in weather forecast segments to show what would happen to an aeroplane in mid-air during a storm. In addition, He also mentioned that use of AR for dance performances that helps with the visuals and narration.

Video qualities today are also increasing, and this would further enhance the AR experience. He is thinking of the launch of 8K videos inside the passenger trains, say from Shenzhen to China, as this takes up to nine hours. With AR + 5G, the passengers can see different places with different cultures and sceneries streaming inside the train, making their experience even better during the long travel period.

Expanding the Human Field of View and Visual Perception

Wei Rongjie, CEO of Realmax, believes that as the eyes account for 90% of information input for humans, wearing AR or VR headsets can provide something he calls “super interfaces”, acting as the interface to the brain and make the means to experience to be more efficient in the future.

This is the focus of Realmax, providing an immersive experience by delivering a field of view of up to 119.5 degrees with an optical thickness on average of only 28 millimetres, so it is very comfortable to wear and can provide a very immersive visual experience.

Realmax AR devices also offer six degrees of freedom, so virtual objects will appear very realistically and support haptic interaction. “Once we combine AR with 5G enabled by this FOV, that magic leap in AR will be achieved showcasing virtual images faster,” Rongjie added.

Rongjie said that AR devices should also consider people with problems in vision, such as myopia. Realmax can support 200 to 500 degrees of FOV for such users who can go to the opticians to do a test and shape the glasses the way they need.

Driving the Next Industry Transformation by Blending Physical and Virtual Experiences

E-sports is a rapidly growing market today, but what is going to come next? According to Hiroshi Fukuda, CEO of meleap, AR, 5G and AI, along with other emerging technologies, will enable a new sports industry which they call ‘Technosport’.

“It is different from the usual games. You don’t have to speak but just act intuitively to perform well. You create virtual energy beams by moving your hand and shield yourself with a different gesture. With 5G in the game, people can join anytime, anywhere,” explained Hiroshi.

He added that HADO will be the next big thing, and 5G is the technology that empowers AR to bring new opportunities people are now seeing. “As 5G advances, perhaps we can literally take our gamers to high-definition games and AR entertainment shows and they can even interact with each other in real-time,” he added.

Hiroshi believes AR is one of the new driving forces for the next industry transformation, sports included.

Where the 5G + AR Industry is Heading

As the sessions went on, Fu Jie, Executive Director of Shenzhen AR Association, explained how the AR industry had undergone drastic changes within the past few years.

Between 2014 to 2016, there was a surge in the market growth as AR applications and aspirations grew in various industries.

As a result, from 2018 up to today, AR investments have become more sensible and there are now policies in place to support the industry development. A strategic opportunity for AR is already on the horizon from 2022 onwards, according to Jie.

Shenzhen has been an innovator for this as a hub of science and technology in China. According to Jie, the VR/AR market in China is projected to reach CNY 54.45 billion (approximately USD8.4 billion) in 2021, enjoying a 95.2% growth.

In Shenzhen, such development in the AR industry can be seen in thousands of electronic solution providers, numerous content and application developers, channel service providers, thousands of supply chain companies and nearly 100 AR/VR hardware companies.

“We know that 5G can empower AR and the combination of the two can bring a better life to us. We know that a large bandwidth of 5G connections can deliver the content to our users faster and such features can unleash the potential of industry applications,” added Jie.

He added that that combination of 5G + AR can enable more partners along the value chain to experience a period of rapid growth.

Turning Dreams to Reality With 5G + AR

The last to talk at the event is Bob Cai, CMO of Huawei Carrier BG, who discussed how AR can turn dreams into reality and create a new frontier. This includes AR making social networking more fun, shopping more convenient, travelling easier, education more engaging and gaming more immersive.

According to Huawei and a third-party institution, the AR market will reach USD300 billion by 2025. At Huawei, AR has already helped in making communications more efficient. “We made use of online technology and AR to showcase our latest products and solutions to the overseas customers. We also made use of AR so the field engineers can see very clearly which port the cable should go so 5G base stations can be delivered much faster,” explained Bob.

With that, Huawei also developed the Huawei AR Engine that makes AR application development more efficient. With Huawei AR Engine, developers only need to write a dozen code lines to enable the applications with AR. It also has more accurate recognition and sampling, a more comprehensive range of scenarios and content as well as a simple development interface.

“The development of AR will depend on the concerted effort of everyone and every party in the end-to-end industry chain,” ended Bob, as he announced the release of Huawei’s whitepaper that talks about AR insight and application practices which you can download here.