5G and Edge Computing Fueling Industry Innovations

AR and VR have been popular amongst certain sectors such as gaming for quite some time, however, broader adoption is still in its nascent stages in the industrial sectors due to a number of factors, such as advances in AR/VR technology, bandwidths and speed, smooth and immersive experiences. The arrival of 5G and edge computing may just be the right engine to catalyse AR/VR take up.

There are different 5G and edge computing deployment models – some a combination of both technologies, others individually. They can also be deployed as public and/or private networks. Telcos are in the best position to create a 5G-and-edge-computing environment where they have complete control over the quality of services end-to-end through capabilities such as edge processing, capacity, bandwidth, and speed. Enterprises who are looking to create new immersive experiences through AR/VR applications will now be able to do so faster, cost effectively, and at scale.

This article explores the technologies and what it means for companies looking to provide AR/VR services and capabilities. Appearition is one such company, that offers a unique AR/VR enabler middleware platform, which will help enterprise adopt AR/VR quickly, cost effectively, and at scale.

5th Generation Mobile Networks or 5G

5G, the 5th Generation of Mobile Network Technology 5G promises to offer extreme speed, massive capacity for machine connections, and ultra-reliability and low latency characteristics that would fuel industry innovations.

5G is well and truly here. According to a GSMA report in October 2021, 469 operators in 140 countries have acquired 5G licenses, conducted trials, planned, been deploying, or launched 5G networks.

5G is an important technology for industrial IoT and mission critical applications and there are three key characteristics that make it paramount right now:

  1. Enhanced/Extreme Mobile Broadband, eMBB – 5G technology New Radio interface and the use of different spectrum bands available bandwidths mean it can achieve significant speed improvement over 4G, with peak rate of up to 20 Gbps. Early 5G test results in Australia have shown that download speeds of 1 Gbps, 2 Gbps and up to 4 Gbps were achieved in certain network conditions. Independent tests by CNET and others have inferred that the average user experience data rate (DL) varies between 400 Mbps to 600 Mbps, depending on geographical location, user density and capacity.
  2. Ultra-Reliability and Low-Latency Communications, URLLC – with the right network setup, 5G network can achieve very low latency of 10 ms, or lower, compared to LTE with average latency higher than 15 ms to 20 ms. URLLC enables mission critical applications, and other industrial use cases that require near real time responses. Industrial applications in this category include AR/VR, HD video streaming, remote surgery, drones, factory automation, etc.
  3. Massive Machine Type Communication, mMTC – 5G enables a massive number of connections for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Theoretical calculation puts this figure around 1 million connections per sq km. The technology is perfectly suited to support the growing number of Internet of Things connected devices in a wide area network (WAN).
Various industry analyst groups have put the number of IoT devices anywhere from 22 billion to 28 billion by 2030. Projections for the future indicate a surge in the usage of IoT devices worldwide. Use cases in this category include Smart Cities, Water and Energy Utilities, Transportation, Healthcare, Mining, Tourism, and Smart Homes.

Edge computing

Edge computing refers to the concept that brings capabilities such as compute, storage, networking closer to the customers/processing plants to deliver guaranteed consistent and immersive user experience, and/or real-time processing.

Edge computing are grouped into four broad categories depending on the different deployment models:

  1. Network edge – edge computing at the edge of the network such as Points of presence at local exchange sites, owned by ISPs ot Telcos
  2. On-premises edge – edge computing on the enterprise premises, and usually owned by private enterprises.
  3. Edge cloud – edge computing (virtualized) infrastructure implemented through distributed data centers, such as regional data centers and local exchange sites. 
  4. Telco edge cloud – similar to the Edge computing model, with distributed computing resources managed by Telco.

There are services already being offered across a combination of the deployment models above, however, the Telco Edge computing is of special interest, especially when it comes to the 5G network.

5G and Telco Edge Cloud - a Powerful Catalyst for Industrial IoT Applications

The combination of 5G and Edge Cloud computing capabilities enable industrial innovation potentials and value for enterprise users by supporting ultra-low latency, reliability, extreme mobile broadband speed, at scale and capacity.

Telco operators can now partner with public cloud providers to deploy 5G Network Function services as microservices in containers at 5G edge cloud locations owned by Telcos.

For the first time, not only can Telco bring cloud services closer to its end users, but it can also do so with guaranteed QoS end-to-end, through network slicing, enabling real time applications and whole new level user experiences never possible before.

5G & Telco Edge & AR/VR Application

Industrial use cases that can benefit greatly from 5G include the following verticals:

  • Education/Training
  • Utilities (Energy, Water, Gas)
  • Smart Factory
  • Health Care
  • Retail
  • Digital Infrastructure
  • Transport

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) stand to benefit the most from this -‘5G Telco edge cloud’ combination, due to 5G characteristics of ultra low latency, reliability, extreme high speed and high bandwidth, and compute resource and scalability offered by cloud services.

Appearition AR/VR Platform

The Appearition AR/VR platform is a headless, composable, API-driven platform. The platform positions itself as a middleware platform, enabling applications to be created and deployed by multiple applications and content providers, and is device agnostic, supporting all headset mounted devices, or mobile devices using web AR.

As a middleware platform, the Appearition platform has been designed with API at the core, and with open-source principles. Appearition recognizes that for it to work, it must integrate with existing databases, and other business systems.

The Appearition platform’s architecture is cloud-based, and its core functions are designed to be modular, and can be deployed in virtual machines or as microservices in containers.

The power of the Appearition platform comes in when it is deployed at the Telco edge cloud, to take advantage of the edge compute capability. Enterprise users can now develop AR/VR applications to take advantage of the edge compute capability. High intensity video and graphics processing and rendering that normally require CPU power from the user devices (headset mounted display) can now be delegated to the edge compute to do all the heavy lifting.

5G Telco edge compute processing for AR/VR applications brings multiple benefits. It –

  • Enables user device battery to last longer,
  • Reduces the cost of AR/VR devices, as processing power won’t be needed at the device, thus lowering the cost of entry
  • Improves and delivers consistent immersive experiences to end users, regardless of the type of devices.
  • Enables AR/VR service providers (Telco, clouds, etc.) to quickly roll out new services and to scale quickly.

Appearition SmartConnect

Appearition SmartConnect is an edge product powered by AWS Wavelength, that enables Telcos and enterprises to create AR/VR solutions that take advantage of the 5G edge cloud capabilities and scalability, without having to develop the AR/VR backend architecture.

AWS Wavelength provides the GPU powered instances that can be located at the edge of the 5G mobile networks, enabling applications to achieve ultra-low latency and high-bandwidth connectivity between AR/VR devices and GPU-based compute on AWS’, (AWS Wavelength, 2021).

To know more about Appearition SmartConnect, click here.

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