The GSMA today announced the launch of a new industry-wide initiative called The GSMA Cloud AR/VR Forum that will focus on the development of cloud virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology. The programme which was unveiled at Huawei’s 9th Global Mobile Broadband Forum in London, is backed by mobile operators including China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, KT Corp., NTT DOCOMO, SK Telecom, Telefónica, Telenor, TIM, Turkcell and Vodafone, as well as other industry partners including Huawei and HTC. The programme aims to encourage all parties to collaborate on accelerating the delivery and deployment of 5G cloud-based AR/VR services.
“Both VR and AR are disruptive forms of immersive multimedia that, combined with operator edge cloud and 5G connectivity, will transform the cost structures of the enterprise and entertainment fields,” commented Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA. “Mobile operators will play a key role in its development, but without a common approach and industry-wide collaboration we risk fragmenting the market from the beginning. The establishment of this forum will overcome this hurdle and ensure we can scale compelling solutions faster.”
The new forum aims to encourage knowledge sharing between members, as well as discussion about new business models including the development of a service reference architecture to avoid cost fragmentation. It will also focus on technical development areas including research into ultra-low latency codec compression, graphics processing unit (GPU) rendering in the cloud and virtualisation technologies, as well as the development of simplified interfaces so that developers can easily deploy services.
“The convergence of 5G networks and clouds will enable mass market adoption of immersive experiences like AR and VR. Utilizing scalable computing power at the network edge allows for unprecedented immersive and pervasive customer experience while leveraging cloud economics. Hence, we need to work towards open ecosystems providing common interfaces across the end to end value chain in order to scale Cloud AR/VR services fast across different markets. With this approach we will unleash the full potential of 5G,” commented Arash Ashouriha, SVP, Group Technology innovation at Deutsche Telekom AG and Chairman of GSMA Future Networks Programme.
AR/VR headsets require a large amount of storage, power consumption and processing power that is currently provided by a PC or gaming device. This makes the headsets expensive and limits their portability, which in turn inhibits their potential as a mass market product. By moving these capabilities to an edge cloud platform away from the PC, it will mean that consumers will just need to purchase the headset making them cheaper and more widely available over time. Cloud AR/VR technology also requires an incredibly fast, low latency bandwidth data connection in order to deliver an ultra-high resolution 4K or 8K viewing experience. 5G will be able to deliver this via its new network capabilities as well as a more reliable experience through edge cloud, which opens up ultra low latency services. – CT Bureau