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The Rise of 5G: This Technology is Set to Take the World by Storm

Ever changing technology trends, especially growth of the mobile industry, are hard to keep up with.

New telecommunication companies and the huge influx of smartphones every month are evidence of this trend, not only in Malaysia, but also the world.

At the world’s biggest annual technology industry gathering, GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC), in Shanghai, China various innovations in the mobile arena segment were showcased. They included artificial intelligence (AI), 5G technology and Internet of Things (IoT) development, providing a glimpse of new products and solutions available in the near future

5G is coming, sooner than we thought. Setting the stage for our mobile future, 5G technologydevelopments will be at the front and centre of everything.

While the last MWC held in March only teased about 5G technology, this time it became a standalone topic as most of the booths and demos were 5G-related. GSMA director general Mats Granryd said in his opening keynote address: “The mobile industry continues to make strong progress with 5G, with 5G leaders planning commercial launches for this and next year including operators in South Korea, Australia and the Philippines, as well as the US and UAE.”

Operators in China, India and Japan will launch 5G by 2020, and other countries across Asia Pacific will follow.

GSMA Intelligence forecasts that by 2025, there will be 1.2 billion 5G connections worldwide, with 5G networks covering almost 40 per cent of the global population.

Asia Pacific will account for more than half of these, or 675 million 5G connections by 2025.

Huawei Rotating Chairman Eric Xu has announced that the company will launch a 5G-ready Kirin chipset next March and a 5G smartphone as early as June 2019.

5G supports faster speeds, lower latency and more connections than 4G, and its enhanced encryption algorithms and privacy and authentication mechanisms will make it a more secure technology. Besides Huawei, HTC, Ericsson, China Mobile, Nokia and OnePlus will participate in the growth of the infrastructure and introduce 5G devices.

The upcoming 5G technology will open up myriad new services opportunities for operators, with complex requirements for each service.

Nokia and China Telecom, for example, are working together to leverage AI and machine learning for the delivery of new virtual and augmented 5G services for industries and consumers, including entertainment, healthcare and education services, as well as for the widespread implementation of automated vehicles (V2X) and Industry 4.0.

China is making advances in AI which, with machine learning, invented to help factories and businesses manage complex processes and drive innovation.

There’s already a mass market adoption of smartphones and the power of machine learning today. “We’re already seeing AI in use for virtual agents and chatbots on the web, in apps or on messaging platforms, such as RCS or Rich Communications Services,” said Granryd.

“We are already familiar with AI-based virtual assistants, like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, to name just a couple,” he said. 5G and AI combined brings a new era for the industry — an era of “intelligent connectivity”. Personal assistants will also become the norm of the future. Personal assistants will understand our every need and will have a deep understanding of our environment and surroundings.

“And we will be able to control Personal Assistants with our voice, instead of keyboards and screens that dominate our lives today,” he added.

At the exhibition floor, Samsung showcased its enhanced image sensor technology, dubbed Isocell Plus, which allows more light to be captured, significantly increasing light sensitivity and colour fidelity.

To bring more innovation to its mobile cameras, Samsung partners with Fujifilm to develop a material which will minimise optical loss and light reflection. This is done by replacing the metal grids in its image sensors.

Smartphone consumers can now expect even more accurate and clearer photos in new Samsung models soon. Vivo unveiled its latest 3D sensing technology with face scanning technology that enables the phone to recognise people from three metres away.

Called the Time of Flight (TOF) 3D sensing technology, it has a resolution of 300,000 points, which the company said is 10 times the number in Apple’s latest iPhone. TOF 3D Sensing will be used in facial, gesture and motion recognition, 3D photography and AR, expanding the capabilities of the next generation of smart devices. 3D modelling is also made possible with this technology as users can scan and recreate objects digitally.

Vivo showcased its latest smartphone Vivo Nex, which has an elevated front camera and in-screen fingerprint sensor. The phone is currently only available in China and will be in some overseas markets in the future.

In the VR exhibition area, HTC dominated a large space with demos and games set up for visitors which included playing baseball, guitar and lightsabers.

Presenting its HTC Vive Focus, the company announces its partnership with China Mobile to conduct large-scale tests of precommercial 5G devices. Currently available in China only, the Vive Focus operates independently as a standalone VR headset without having to connect to a PC. HTC also unveiled games which included the use of a connected smartphone, as well as multiplayer offerings.

Meanwhile, a start-up, showcased its location-based virtual reality technology which uses eight nodes attached to the body and a set of cameras. Using Senso VR Glove as its base, the company attached it to a node, before upgrading the invention to a full body tracking solution. It does not require a physical headset and is able to track five players in a 100sq m area.

Many products and solutions were on display at the event.

One that caught the attendees’ attention was a piano. Not just any piano, this white and sleek instrument with a 88-key layout has a digital screen embedded in front of it. The screen can display music notes and shows which piano key and how long it should be pressed, just like the Piano Tiles mobile game. If you like, you can also Select songs from its list or create your own music notes, and the piano will play by itself.

Another product that drew a crowd was an autonomous minibus developed by French company EasyMile.

The provider of the driverless mini buses at Southeast University in Nanjing, China, is in talks with Huawei to install 5G implementation in its autonomous minibus.

Fingerprint Cards demonstrated its biometric technology that adds a new level of security and convenience to credit and debit cards. Rather than PIN numbers, the card uses its cardholders fingerprint to unlock and activate the card for payment use. The sensor is at the right lower corner of the card and works instantly once the thumb is placed. Even if the owner loses the card, no one else will be able to use it.

We never know what the future holds, but I’m excited by what lies ahead. One thing for sure — the mobile industry is heading in a more fast-paced, user-centric direction, and it’s up to market experts to deliver on customer expectations.

Cutting-edge products and services will continue to surprise consumers in every aspect of life, in sectors such as transport, health, agriculture, industry, home and retail. – NST

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