Person using virtual reality glasses.
Image: Sofiko14/Adobe Stock

The evolution charging through the worlds of augmented reality and virtual reality has generated a lot of discussions. Part of the conversation has centered on how AR and VR technologies can take advantage of 5G capabilities.

With MarketsandMarkets estimating the AR and VR global market will reach $115 billion by 2027, the possibility of more immersive technology adoption in many industries is no longer in doubt. At the same time, 5G has witnessed growing use cases in recent years. Considering the networking capabilities, there is a need to explore how the fifth-generation network can impact AR and VR technology.

AR and VR explained

AR is a technology that allows virtual objects to be overlayed in real-world environments without obscuring the view of the real environment. AR seeks to provide more insight into perception by generating and adding artificial infographics, images, videos, sound and other computer-generated details to reality.

SEE: Meta report: Future of work includes VR headsets, the metaverse and vendor collaboration (TechRepublic)

On the other hand, VR recreates the real world and replaces it with the virtual environment using wireless VR headsets, sensors or other immersive technology tools. In VR, users are blocked from the real world and immersed in interactive 3D models of digitized objects and simulated spaces.

How will 5G influence the evolution of AR and VR?

5G is designed to offer a more responsive, faster and more reliable network connectivity than the networks that came before it. But, what do these qualities hold for the future of AR and VR?

Less data congestion between headsets and computers

The VR experience depends on a lot of data traveling back and forth between a headset and a computer system. For a high-quality AR and VR experience, the data must travel swiftly and avoid congestion. Unfortunately, 4G connections may struggle to convey all of the information at once when managing large amounts of data.

However, with 5G offering large bandwidth and low latency, AR and VR pictures, videos and animations can load without throwing up jerky performances, resulting in a better AR and VR experience.

Higher-quality displays of immersive videos

Most AR and VR that show 3D videos require a higher bandwidth for a seamless display. But, some AR and VR devices do not currently support the network connection that can facilitate and enhance the quality display of these bandwidth-intensive videos. This affects the user experience of these immersive technologies and stalls their growing use cases.

The emergence of 5G can change this situation by offering higher bandwidth volumes. And by utilizing millimeter wave technology provided by 5G, which runs on an extremely high frequency, AR and VR devices can render more realistic 3D videos and immersive displays.

Boundless extended reality

Extended reality is a term commonly used to refer to AR, VR, mixed reality and other immersive technologies. Immersive technology companies are looking for a way to develop an immersive mobile XR experience that can render photorealistic visuals by combining 5G and edge computing.

Similarly, big VR and AR development companies like Qualcomm, HTC and Samsung are all looking at making a convergence of mobile VR headsets and AR glasses into a single and more fashionable XR wearable device.

SEE: Why Apple hasn’t revealed their rumored AR/VR headset (TechRepublic)

Bringing these aspects of immersive technologies under one fold will require real-time communication, low latency and seamless data transfer. But, applying 5G capabilities to AR and VR can make this goal easier to achieve.

Advancing the application of AR and VR in healthcare practice

The need for remote healthcare has never been greater or more applicable than it is today. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the number of telehealth consultations has significantly increased. With this in mind, medical staff can be trained and prepared with anatomical visualizations through AR goggles. This AR/VR-driven healthcare practice requires high bandwidth, speedy communication and low latency, which is where 5G can have a meaningful influence.

5G can advance the application of AR and VR in telehealth medical procedures, by providing a stable connection for better response time between patient and medical consultant. Adding 5G to the mix will also ensure a high-end display of images and videos to help consultants attend to patients in real time. In other words, 5G can advance the growing use of VR in learning how to perform surgeries without touching a patient.

More realistic gaming

Before now, gamers relied on flat-screen displays to play their games. But with the advent of immersive technologies like AR and VR, players can be immersed in a more realistic and personalized environment. This new development has boosted the video game industry, shaping it into a blossoming market. According to a recent report by Technavio, the global gaming market share is expected to hit $75 billion by 2026.

With the rising application of AR and VR in modern game development, 5G can further advance these games. The application of 5G will ensure developers create games that offer better graphics qualities and better response time to commands without network lags.

There’s more? Yes, really. Read about other 5G-related matters with these recent articles: A brief history of 5G and five key 5G trends to watch in 2023.

Subscribe to the Innovation Insider Newsletter

Catch up on the latest tech innovations that are changing the world, including IoT, 5G, the latest about phones, security, smart cities, AI, robotics, and more. Delivered Tuesdays and Fridays

Subscribe to the Innovation Insider Newsletter

Catch up on the latest tech innovations that are changing the world, including IoT, 5G, the latest about phones, security, smart cities, AI, robotics, and more. Delivered Tuesdays and Fridays