T‑Mobile 5G Powers Immersive Experiences with Augmented Reality and Holographic Telepresence

By John Saw, EVP of Advanced & Emerging Technologies
Mar 2, 2021 10:30 AM ET
Blog

It was just about one year ago that many of us moved out of the office and into the home as the world began to grapple with a global pandemic. Our kids moved into remote learning, and the fatigue of endless video calls set in. People are wired to operate in three dimensions, but this past year more than ever we found ourselves forced into a 2D world.

With 5G this is changing fast – and life is just better in 3D. With Mixed Reality and real-time 3D video communications we are watching sports, buying products, exploring new places and interacting with our world in amazing new ways. Businesses are finding better ways to collaborate virtually and increase productivity across a remote workforce. And consumers are being engaged with virtual experiences that bring them closer than ever to the products and entertainment they love.

Augmented & Virtual Reality for Frontline Workers

Augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) technology is a key area of focus at T-Mobile for 5G use case development and it is applicable to so many industries from healthcare to manufacturing, agriculture and more. Enterprises today have complex machinery, a shortage of skilled workers, and customers with no patience for downtime, making sophisticated training and technical support capabilities more important than ever. With T-Mobile’s low-latency, Ultra Capacity 5G network, we are seeing businesses boost productivity and speed as technicians use augmented reality for immersive training, and then to collaborate and fix problems fast. 

Taqtile, a recent graduate of the 5G Open Innovation Lab co-founded by T-Mobile, is a company doing fascinating work building AR solutions for frontline workers. Timberline Communications Inc. (TCI), a communications infrastructure company, is using Taqtile’s AR solution running on T-Mobile 5G to perform cell site upgrades and maintenance on our network. With Taqtile, TCI’s technicians use AR headsets to view virtual service checklists and troubleshoot using remote assistance. AR solutions such as this enable frontline workers to improve their skills and perform complex tasks from anywhere exploring objects such as machinery in 3D from all angles. We recently went to Boston to check out the Taqtile solution in action with TCI – take a look.

Real-Time Holographic Telepresence

Another 5G use case we are interested in at T-Mobile is holographic telepresence. While holograms have been around for quite some time as highly staged, pre-recorded productions, today we are seeing the potential for 5G to take holograms into everyday life with real-time holographic video calls right on your mobile device, anytime, anywhere. With holographic video calls we’ll have a more natural, intuitive way to communicate with 3D images enabling us to better experience physical presence.

We have been testing holographic video calling technology with Omnivor, also a graduate of the 5G Open Innovation Lab and an early leader developing this next frontier of video communications. We set up the Omnivor system at T-Mobile to try this early technology for ourselves on the T-Mobile 5G network, and just recently we conducted part of our quarterly all-hands team meeting using holographic telepresence. Adam Kirk, CEO of Omnivor, and I joined about 70 people in their home offices and other locations in real-time as 3D holograms. Interestingly, Adam and I were not even in the same city during the call, yet our holograms were interacting virtually in those home offices. Talk about spicing up your 2D video call!

This solution relies on volumetric spatial processing – a technique where multiple cameras capture an image from all angles to create a 3D video that is transmitted over the T-Mobile network, allowing the image to be viewed in 360 degrees in real-time on smartphones. Check it out.

T-Mobile 5G, a Platform for Innovation

At T-Mobile we are building America’s leading 5G network with the fastest speeds and largest coverage footprint.  Amazing new 5G products and services are quickly being built, and they require a 5G network with capacity and broad reach, one that can support all use cases and reach all Americans. We call it #5GForAll and only T-Mobile has it. 

To fuel 5G innovation and support developers like Taqtile and Omnivor, we have a number of initiatives including the award-winning T-Mobile Accelerator5G Open Innovation Lab and T-Mobile Ventures investment fund. This year we will work directly with approximately 50 startups just through these programs alone, and a key focus area is on immersive technologies such as Mixed Reality and 3D video communications. Our T-Mobile Accelerator Spring Program is focused on exactly this, and we just recently expanded the Accelerator in collaboration with Georgia Tech and Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners.

Stay tuned for more as we kick things into high gear with the innovators, developers and entrepreneurs building the next big thing in 5G!