5G is set to revolutionise the way we live and its true potential was highlighted by Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg at CES 2019 in Las Vegas. Speaking at his company’s keynote address, he said the technology will “change everything”.
According to Vestberg, it is a ‘quantum leap’ in the world of connectivity. After being introduced by Consumer Technology Association President and CEO Gary Shapiro, he took to the stage amid cheers and applause, to talk about his favourite topic, 5G.
To give the audience an idea about the differences between 4G and 5G, he said that a 90-minute video which used to take four minutes to download, would be available in a matter of 10 seconds. However, the fifth generation of mobile internet is not just about speed. It is also about how it can be used to enable new technologies which merge the physical and digital worlds of humans.
“5G is a promise of so much more than we have ever seen in any era of technology,” he said. The CEO, whose company is at the forefront of the connected revolution, talked about eight groundbreaking capabilities of 5G. “I call them currencies”, Vertberg clarified.
He defined them as peak data rate, mobile data volume, mobility, connected devices, energy efficiency, service deployment, reliability and low latency. Expanding on the first currency, he said, that simply thinking in terms of how fast people can download movies on 5G would be to limit yourself.
Vertberg then invited the CEO of The New York Times (NYT) Mark Thompson, who would demonstrate how his company will use the technology to create something transformative.
Thompson was excited to announce a collaboration with Verizon. Together they will establish a journalism 5G lab at the NYT’s New Work City newsroom, to transform the way stories are told. “We believe that 5G and its lack of latency can spark a revolution in digital journalism,” he said. Using a term often used at CES 2019 to describe the capabilities of 5G, he said storytelling will be taken to the 'next level'.
He showed an example of how 4G enabled interactive storytelling when reporting on the wildfires in California last year. With 5G, Thompson foresees that NYT will be able to deliver information to the intended audience with greater immediacy. The technology will also allow the publication to bring richer multimedia elements to stories.
“More photos, more graphics, more augmented reality, more virtual reality, more sound and more innovation within each of those media.” This new era of connectivity will bring the audience ever closer to what the reporter is experiencing on the ground, he said. Thompson then called this ability to relate 'the best form' of journalism.
Next on stage was Walt Disney CTO, Jamie Voris. He announced a partnership between Verizon and his company, to power Disney’s new innovation centre and programme called Studio Lab. “5G is going to change a lot about from how we connect to our production houses to how we deliver our movies around the world.”
Disney and Verizon teams have already started working on 5G enabled cloud-based production workflows, and live volume streaming of animated characters in cinemas.
After Thompson’s presentation, Skyward CEO, Mariah Scott took to the stage to talk about the potential of 5G and drones. “Aerial robots will be central to our urban and rural infrastructure,” she told the audience. She pointed out that only 10% of major enterprises have a drone programme and none of them were connected to a wireless network.“5G will usher in a new era of aviation where we connect and integrate drones.”
She also announced Verizon’s commitment to be the first company to connect one million drones to the U.S. national airspace. Scott said this would enable companies to reimagine how they do business in a 5G world.
To showcase the potential of connected drones, Hans Vestberg reemerged on stage and took the controls to an aircraft in Los Angeles. The Verizon CEO pressed the launch button and the drone took to the skies, showing impressive 'throughput' speeds of 900 Mbps. Regulations dictate that a licensed remote pilot has to also be on the ground in LA. However, it was Hans who was in complete control of the device all the way from Las Vegas.
The potential advances that 5G can bring to the medical field were also explained at the keynote address. A particular area of interest was surgery. Radiologist Christopher Morley, CEO of mixed reality company MediVis, said many of the procedures being conducted today are done much in the same way as 30 years ago.
He said that surgeries were and are often still being done, 'blindly'. However, 5G could change the way invasive procedures are carried out. He said the technology will reduce latency to an extent where surgeons can use augmented reality to operate in real time.
A mixture of AR and AI will be used to enhance surgical visualisation. Such breakthroughs enable surgeons to be far more precise than going into operations 'in the dark'.
The keynote left the audience with plenty to be excited about in terms of the potentials of 5G. With the technology expected to rapidly reach a wider net of consumers in the coming years, the possibilities are seemingly infinite.
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