5G — or “fifth generation” internet — is the catalyst industrial mixed reality technologies need for today’s primary use cases to take hold. With 5G’s promise of virtually eliminating latency, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will finally thrive within the enterprise in instances when time is of the essence.
Two primary use cases established for mixed reality in an industrial context are informational overlay utilizing AR (think technician repairs on- or off-site), and training and education in high-stress or dangerous situations (think training for an oil spill without the risk). While both of these use cases have seen success in experimentation and small-scale use, operators are still challenged by achieving real-time data flow to complete tasks in virtual and real-world environments — especially in areas of low signal.
For example, a surgeon is needed to operate on a patient, but not at her hospital; the patient is halfway around the world. Utilizing a virtual reality headset, haptic gloves and virtual twin robotics onsite, the surgeon is able to operate without being physically present. This theoretical healthcare industry use case is only possible if there is zero lag between the actions performed by the surgeon and the effects happening in real time across the globe. For now, it’s relegated to training scenarios only.