We are turning the page to a new chapter – the
fourth industrial revolution – thanks to rapid advances in technology,
including Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).
According to IDC,
the worldwide shipments of augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR)
headsets are forecasted to reach 8.9 million units in 2019. In addition, by
2023 virtual reality headsets are expected to reach 36.7 million units. On the
other hand, the AR headset market is poised to reach 31.9 million units in
2023. Indeed, both emerging technologies have quickly gone mainstream in recent
years and will only make more headway into both the enterprise and consumer
worlds across healthcare, manufacturing, entertainment and other industries. In
fact, according to IDC, AR and VR technologies are expected to grow $6bn by
2020 in the Middle East and African market. The UAE, unsurprisingly, is at the
forefront in implementing advanced solutions for its industrial sector.
VR is a 100 percent virtual, simulated
experience. This emerging technology is exceptionally sensitive to lag and
slowdown—delays between when an input is placed and when the system reacts to
it, and noticeable disruptions in the consistent stream of data being
delivered, respectively. A significant portion of its value proposition
includes the experience of actually being transported somewhere, and thus a
frozen screen or patch of pixelated haze smashes that illusion quickly, ruining
the experience for many—and in some cases causing motion sickness.
When an event is broadcast in VR— for
instance the Expo 2020 Dubai, which will offer innovative digital experiences
to attendees—camera rigs that capture 360-degree (or 180-degree depending on
the event) panoramic views are needed to provide the viewer with the ability to
look at every angle. This requires a number of lenses and thus multiple video
streams moving side-by-side. To transmit this information, copious amounts of
bandwidth are required—up to 4 to 5 times as much for 360-degree video compared
to regular video, according to YouTube’s Anjali Wheeler.
Furthermore, how the content is being
streamed as ‘live’ or not also impacts the bandwidth requirements which will be
significantly higher in this case.
It is also important to differentiate the
two types of ‘live’ VR – ‘live’ as in watching an event as it occurs; or ‘live’
involving interaction with others within a virtual environment. In the first
format, the unit is passively accepting the data stream from the network, which
requires low latency and a high bandwidth connection to achieve high video
throughput. With the latter, to enable interaction between the VR source and
multiple users, low latency is required so there is no noticeable delay, even
as data is moved back and forth between the individual VR units connected and
Reality: Blurred Lines between Real and Digital
The crucial difference between VR and AR
lies in the way digital content is mixed with reality. Unlike VR, AR allows
users to integrate elements of reality into their experience. For example, AR can
work through mobile phones using the integrated camera and is the kind of
virtual reality that powers Pokémon Go. The game’s massive adoption showed the
average consumer’s appetite for AR technologies.
There needs to be a way to deliver AR
content to devices with high bandwidth and low latency while allowing compute
to happen outside the unit. According to GSMA Intelligence, generic AR
applications will require upwards of 100Mbps bandwidth throughput and nearly as
low as 1ms delay—difficult specs for a device you can walk around with.2
As the increase in demand for network
bandwidth continues, service providers must bring new approaches to how they
design, deploy, and operate their networks so they don’t compromise a great
customer experience. Technologies like Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and
Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) are designed to help deal with some of
So will machine learning, a form of AI that
uses statistical techniques to enable systems to ‘self-learn’ and progressively
improve network performance on a specific task. For example, Blue Planet’s
Proactive Network Operations solution uses advanced machine learning algorithms
to pinpoint potential issues before they occur and instructs the network the
best course of action to take to resolve.
emerging the digital experiences through AI-Based Automation
The success of AR and VR doesn’t solely
depend on hardware; it requires intelligent software capabilities. As more
companies move to digital, they adopt software-based approach which relies on
AI. In fact, according to Gartner, the adoption of AI in organizations has
tripled in the past year.
The adoption of AI is a great enable for
several businesses. For instance, Over-the-top (OTT) content and service
providers such as Google, Facebook, Netflix, and Amazon are leveraging big data
analytics and AI-based automation in their services to provide every customer,
a highly customized experience.
Thus, by leveraging AI and an intelligent
automation platform, service providers can dynamically allocate resources to
specific demanding applications, such as those run for AR/VR. In addition,
intelligent automation, built on software-defined control and orchestration
with integrated analytics—and one that should be on every provider’s road map. Seamless
AR and VR experiences demand the highest bandwidth possible and with AI,
applications for AR and VR devices can be configured across the network so they
receive the service they require.
As AR/VR continue to find use cases in our
day to day lives end-customers have increasingly high expectations for their
quality of experience. Therefore, enterprises need to ensure technical bedrocks
such as AI are in place to be able to deliver a satisfying user experience.