When Boris Johnson announced lockdown on 23 March, for many this meant embracing a digitised lifestyle almost overnight. Since then, digital technologies have proven to be essential for society to function and support our new ways of working, living and socialising - from virtual conferences, online workouts and video meetings with friends and family. With many in society confined to their home, telecommunications, networks and connectivity are now more vital than ever.
The good news is that technological advancements over the past couple of years have made the rise of video conference calls and virtual collaborative working possible. Much of what has become the new normal over the past couple of months wouldn’t have been possible if COVID-19 had decided to strike a few years earlier. However, despite the current situation, it’s critical to look forward. And as we anticipate the future, people are looking at 5G to deliver better coverage and data speeds which will ease our already accelerated transition to remote working, not just in office teams but across manufacturing, medicine and media.
Beyond work, as 5G capabilities begin to roll out nationwide, real time capacities will change the way we currently think we can live and play. Consumer expectation is high. Our research found that 83% of UK millennials claim they already expect their digital experiences and interactions with brands online to be seamless, innovative, and to enhance what’s happening in the real world*. It’s 5G - high-speed, high throughput of data combined with low latency connectivity - that is the key ingredient in meeting these expectations. So, what can it deliver to ensure not only a digitised lifestyle post COVID-19, but also a technological revolution that will fundamentally change our lives for the better?
Its impact will be widespread. From immersive gaming experiences and autonomous vehicles to how we consume media and entertainment as we move towards 3D and AR experiences where digital technologies overlay seamlessly onto reality. 5G is set to have a huge impact on how we watch sport, promising better quality on video streaming, immersive experiences and real-time in VR and AR overlay that will allow viewers to watch the game from multiple angles – including cameras on the players and referees themselves during live sports. 5G will also meet the growing appetite for e-sports, where users can play at home or on the go without connectivity being affected. Live events will have virtual counterparts that can be opened up and streamed globally. Just look at the Travis Scott concert event on the video game Fortnite for what is being done right now with pre-recorded digital materials. Now imagine what you will be able to do when connectivity allows that to happen in real-time, globally.
5G will also open up numerous opportunities for marketers and advertisers, including personalised advertising opportunities and new avenues of immersive, interactive and real-time moments where brands can provide real value to their customers. This includes the likes of in-store experiences from home, virtual test drives, virtual concerts and global cultural experiences that brands can be part of and add to the virtual environment experienced by consumers. At the very least it will mean instant ad loads and landing pages, negating lag and drop offs.
At Verizon Media, we recently opened our first 5G Lab and production studio in London, which will allow us to produce virtual and AR experiences, using state-of-the-art facilities like volumetric capture, motion capture and AR broadcast. These capabilities have already seen us create memorable, never-before seen moments such as bringing to life virtual Sith jet troopers at the premiere after-party for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. As examples, these capabilities allow us to create next-generation digital content experiences like bringing animated characters to life that consumers can interact with in real-time, as well as bring virtual environments into real-time behind presenters in AR broadcast, transforming the way we consume broadcast content.
As the capabilities of 5G begin to integrate into our everyday lives, we are excited to help our customers and partners be at the forefront of creating new and exciting immersive experiences. COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed the world forever. However, the advent of 5G will enable the world to move forward into these changes and bring even better experiences when we do see some sort of normality return.
*Research was undertaken by YouGov on behalf of Verizon Media between 6-10 March 2020. Methodology: 2,210 online interviews with a national representation of UK adults aged 18+
Kristiana Carlet is Vice President EMEA at Verizon Media.
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