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Singapore’s telecom regulator unveils new 5G projects

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) on Wednesday (Aug 3) unveiled three more 5G projects to help Singapore use the fifth-generation mobile network in different areas for a better consumer experience.

The projects, which IMDA billed as the region’s first in their respective categories, involve using 5G in augmented reality (AR), health technology and the maritime sector. One project will use 5G to produce an outdoor, “cinematic quality” AR experience in the Marina Bay area.

IMDA said in a statement that it is working with the industry to “unlock the real value” of 5G by exploring new business use-cases and helping companies commercialise the technology both locally and abroad.

“5G enables technologies such as AI, Digital Twin, augmented and extended reality to seamlessly work together, key for businesses at the forefront of digital transformation and providing consumers with a better-quality experience,” the authority said.

This comes after Singtel announced on Jul 22 that it has achieved more than 95 per cent standalone 5G coverage across Singapore, three years ahead of the regulatory target of end-2025. IMDA had in June 2020 given approval for Singtel and a StarHub-M1 joint venture to operate 5G networks.

In January 2021, IMDA announced a S$30 million fund to quicken the adoption and commercialisation of 5G solutions. The three projects announced on Wednesday come under the auspices of this fund.

5G-Enabled augmented reality
The first project will see IMDA work with Infinite Studios and mixed reality company D.ink to develop an outdoor, 5G-enabled cinematic quality AR experience.

The AR experience will fully utilise the bandwidth and computational capabilities of 5G and 5G-enabled mobile devices, IMDA said.

“The collaboration will bring together creative storytelling and immersive technology, producing a unique experience at the Marina Bay area that merges the physical world with simulated reality using AR,” it added.

One AR experience will feature a young girl from the future who travels back in time in search of her father. The experience will take users through significant moments of Singapore’s history and show how the country has grown from humble beginnings to megacity.

Another experience will feature a live AR performance in the Marina Bay area that will immerse visitors in “larger-than-life” AR renders with true cinematic quality of Singapore’s skyline, IMDA said.

Apple 5G mobile device users will be able to download the AR application and unlock it with performance tickets bought through a Marina Bay Sands web portal.

Possible extensions of the app ecosystem, already under evaluation, will include a dedicated metaverse and companion game, IMDA stated.

5G-Enabled health technology
Another project involves using 5G in holomedicine, an up-and-coming area of development that utilises holographic displays and images to improve and augment healthcare delivery.

IMDA said it will partner the National University Health System, Singtel and holomedicine platform apoQlar to develop 5G-enabled holomedicine capabilities that use new remote rendering technology and mixed reality devices like Microsoft’s HoloLens 2.

IMDA called it Asia-Pacific’s first 5G mobile edge computing for mixed reality and holomedicine capabilities in health tech.

“The collaboration project will enable the holomedicine platform to leverage a high-speed network which is essential for the real-time transmission of large volumes of data from the HoloLens 2 devices,” IMDA said.

This will allow operating theatres to take advantage of real-time rendering of high-resolution 3D images and holographic projections, scan reconstructions, procedure and surgical navigation, and remote assistance.

“Outside the operating theatres, capabilities such as enhanced visualisation of patient’s veins during blood taking procedures, advanced point-of-care ultrasound imaging capabilities, and patient education and counselling will be made possible,” IMDA added.

5G-Enabled smart glasses
The final project is centred on using 5G to overlay AR on smart glasses worn by maritime workers so they can get real-time support and more detailed instructions.

IMDA said it will partner Keppel Offshore & Marine and its collaborators M1, Hiverlab and Suga to develop and commercialise such 5G-enabled solutions for the maritime sector. According to IMDA, the smart glasses solution is a first in Southeast Asia.

“COVID-19 has brought disruption to physical inspections, site and vessel surveys and audits, which is heavily dependent on what is possible today,” IMDA said. “This project will enable Keppel O&M to address these challenges.”

Progress in existing 5G projetcs
IMDA also gave an update on what it called “significant progress” in existing 5G projects, including port operator PSA’s “world’s first” trial of using 5G in day-to-day operations.

PSA’s automated guided vehicles, driverless electric vehicles that pick up and transport containers, have achieved a 50 per cent reduction in latency compared to current 4G network, IMDA said. Latency refers to the time it takes for data to pass from one point on a network to another.

“This will enable PSA to scale automated guided vehicle operations at Tuas Mega Port beyond 2,000 vehicles,” IMDA added.

IMDA said its partnership with gaming company Razer has redefined the mobile gaming experience with 5G-enabled gaming controllers, pointing to how findings from a trial led to the launch of a heat-dissipating mobile phone cover that supports the heavy processing load of 5G-enabled gaming.

IMDA chief executive Lew Chuen Hong said he looks forward to seeing the “new and exciting ways” 5G will benefit businesses and consumers.

“Singapore will continue to push the boundaries of innovation through frontier technologies such as 5G,” he said. CNA

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