There is great potential for 5G to usher in significant near-term business impacts in the enterprise, and augmented reality (AR) applications will be the poster child that demonstrates the value of 5G.
The sprawling footprints of industrial organizations are tailor-made for 5G. High-speed wireless data coverage will be available throughout dispersed industrial environments which simply can't be served via Wi-Fi alone. 5G cellular connectivity for field-based uses, including AR platforms that help frontline workers keep complex machinery in good working order, will be rapidly adopted.
There are also many enterprises that have not deployed wireless infrastructure for cost or security reasons. The recent adoption of mobile digital tools by frontline workers to perform daily tasks and remote guidance makes 5G a valuable investment for these organizations. In many instances, 5G may be easier to deploy while delivering more functionality and higher security than Wi-Fi alone.
A solution needed today
COVID-19 created monumental disruptions for enterprises, impacting both the health of employees and the operational capabilities of companies. These challenges have made a compelling case for the adoption of AR platforms. AR's ability to enable remote work, particularly in support of frontline workers, makes the technology essential in today's environment. A new ABI Research report projects that increasing digitization and connected workers will drive a booming $70 billion industrial AR market by 2025.
And 5G is about to make AR systems faster, more secure, and even more resilient.
Driven by the need for more flexibility and resilience, executives are turning to technologies like AR to ensure their companies are better equipped to handle future disruptions. And 5G is the network solution that will enable these new platforms to reach their full potential.
Maximizing expertise within organizations is also an enterprise priority supported by AR and optimized by 5G. When new members of staff are hired, there's a natural lack of knowledge and experience that must be overcome. Training new employees on complex tasks and procedures is time and resource-intensive. For industries facing a shortage of skilled workers, like manufacturing, AR can harness the knowledge of an organization's seasoned experts and distribute it to staff members, regardless of location. And trainees can learn at their own pace, receiving hands-on experience with guided AR instruction that enables them to learn more quickly than they would in traditional classroom settings.
Content is always king and this holds true for AR enterprise applications. 5G's throughput capabilities will deliver real-time access to the rich media required by enterprise across multiple industries – manufacturing, logistics, utilities, defense, and others. The types of support that AR applications provide to frontline workers are diverse, ranging from step-by-step video instruction walking employees through complex repair procedures on mission critical systems or industrial machinery, to holograms that will enable delivery of the robust instructional content that will exponentially increase the value of enterprise AR.
5G enables a new level of collaboration, maximizing the capability of advanced AR solutions to share voice, video and augmented content in real time. The ability of 5G networks to enable two-way video, real-time remote guidance and access to intelligent cloud solutions where repositories of knowledge are stored, will empower new staff or less-experienced workers to safely, efficiently and thoroughly complete complex tasks right at the machine. This will be especially beneficial for industries that are reliant on younger, more inexperienced workers – for example, in military and defense or manufacturing applications – where errors can be life threatening.
When it comes to AR applications, the need for exceptional throughput is paramount. And 5G throughput will unlock the full benefits of advanced AR applications, from facilitating real-time collaboration – both between remote experts and on-premises frontline staff and across teams – to enabling advanced communication tools, like streamed video with virtual ink overlays, hologram sharing and even eye tracking.
5G will also increase the efficacy of AR platforms. For example, the integration of AR with Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies will be greatly enhanced by 5G, bolstering the incorporation of sensors into legacy equipment. The benefits will be significant, providing transparency of information for frontline workers by enabling them to directly and securely access data from any on-site location, thereby making more informed decisions and keeping equipment and personnel safe.
Latency will also be reduced in 5G applications, which may have a critical impact on IIoT data display in AR, especially for sensors monitoring the processes and status of machines where milliseconds matter. And it will enable the deployment of more sensors and connection of more simultaneous users, providing more data for machine learning to help inform preventative-maintenance tasks. By delivering better and faster access to critical real-time IIoT data through AR, 5G will help organizations limit or even prevent industrial accidents that can damage equipment and harm workers.
In addition, 5G ushers in a new era of network security. Advances in measures for device authentication, encryption of user traffic between devices and the network, and additional security protocols provide a level of security robustness required by many enterprises.
Ride the 5G wave
As industries ranging from manufacturing to defense installations leverage the flexibility, reliability and adaptability of 5G technology, organizations that have embraced advanced AR applications will experience immediate benefits. Consumer applications of 5G may be the sizzle, but enterprises investing in AR applications are getting the steak.
— Kelly Malone, Chief Customer Officer, Taqtile
About the author: As Taqtile's Chief Customer Officer, Kelly Malone is responsible for technical pre-sales, project delivery & services, and customer support & account management. For over 25 years, Kelly has worked in technology primarily focused on software operating systems, development platforms, and software application commercialization. He joined Taqtile in 2015 following his role as Director of Business Development at Microsoft supporting the Windows Platform team, specifically the HoloLens. Kelly spent over ten years in a variety of sales, business development and product management roles at Microsoft, and has also held sales VP roles at Accenture and Spring Wireless.
Photo by Science in HD on Unsplash