As the pandemic pushes more and more customer interactions into the virtual realm, augmented reality could become one of the major new use cases for new 5G networks, according to a new report from Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson this week.
The report examined how quarantine conditions had affected expectations about the markets the next generation of cellphone services could open, including growing interest in mixed reality, improved video streaming and cloud gaming. By 2030, the authors of the report expect that AR in particular will account for around half of all revenue from immersive video formats, a category that includes any video medium with an interactive element.
“When we looked at the use cases, some of the use cases that seemed very unconventional at the time – May 2019 – were now much more relevant given the pandemic,” said report author and head of Ericsson’s ConsumerLab division Jasmeet Singh Sethi. “The 5G use cases are much more relevant and exciting, and address the question of how to turn an on-site experience into a digital one.”
It was also found that general consumer awareness of 5G has increased by about 20% in the months since the first Covid-19 outbreak in the US. At the same time, however, financial troubles caused by the virus have reduced the premium that survey respondents are willing to pay for the new service has dropped from 20% to 10%.
Singh Sethi said consumer uncertainty about spending on 5G makes it even more important for carriers to develop use cases like mixed reality and gaming that make it more attractive.
“It is more important for service providers to be much more proactive in enabling new customer experiences that can then convince consumers of the value of 5G,” said Singh Sethi. “And that is exactly what we are really pushing for and calling on service providers to be much more proactive with 5G.”
Experts believe that 5G networks could potentially reach speeds between 10 and 100 times the current 4G LTE wireless speed and offer advanced processing power to support more sophisticated AR and other mixed reality graphics . However, the current statistics of 5G networks still in the making do not fail to achieve this potential.
The technology became much better known when Apple launched its 5G-enabled iPhone 12 last month.
Even without widespread 5G service, AR saw a surge in popularity amid the pandemic. Fashion retailers are using it as a virtual replacement for in-store locker rooms, and other marketers have turned to the technology as an alternative to large-scale personal activations.
“In the long term, we expect AR to be expanded with 5G functions [being primarily used for] Games for applications like home planning, education and even advertising and mobile commerce, ”said Singh Sethi.