What makes a vacation for you? Do you need to feel the sand between your toes? Maybe sip a caipirinha on the Copacabana? Or see a show in London’s West End? Or are you the adventurous type, and want to know how it feels to climb Everest in your spare time? Or walk with dinosaurs on a prehistoric safari (after you have walked the dog, of course)?
Thanks to emerging and future technologies such as extended reality, immersive holographic communication and the Internet of Senses, these possibilities could all very soon be available to you at a place of your choosing, all thanks to innovation-enabling high-performance mobile technologies.
Ready to take your first VR vacation? Here are five ways 5G, 5G advanced and 6G could very soon bring the world to your doorstep:
Sightseeing from your sofa
Imagine hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu as it would have looked in the fifteenth century. Or climbing the thousands of torii gates at Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine in unspoiled isolation, apart from your own personal virtual tour guide of course.
With ultra-low latency and the capability to support multiple high-performance devices with positioning down to the centimeter, 5G and future networks can turn those possibilities into reality, or rather new immersive virtual- and augmented realities.
Ericsson’s recent blog post on 5G metaverse use places takes you on a tour of some of the exciting ways this can change how you work, learn, socialize, shop and even travel. Today, most tourism services are only available in a few major languages and are not always available when you want them. Visiting a mix of physical and virtual attractions could change that. It can also enable new ways to open tourist attractions to wider audiences, making them more accessible and perhaps even more enjoyable.
At present there are 1154 UN listed World Heritage sites, many of which can be costly and difficult to access, and upon arrival you can expect to be greeted by swarms of other tourists. But what if you could visit each of those in all their unspoilt glory, and with a tailored VR guide? Ericsson is already well on the way to making this immersive AR storytelling a reality thanks to its augmented reality platform EPHAS, which addresses both the creative and consumption side of immersive AR storytelling while also democratizing AR storytelling.
So, whether you’re vacationing from your sofa or on-location, emerging AR and VR can offer new ways to make those experiences truly unforgettable.
Take your seat before the show begins
Maybe you’re a musical tourist and your idea of a vacation is a pilgrimage to far-flung stages to follow your favorite artists? 5G-enabled technologies could enhance that too.
Technologies such as extended reality and holographic communication provide a toolkit that could revolutionize how you experience live music in the future, for example by taking to the stage yourself in VR (as was recently demonstrated at Madrid’s Mad Cool festival) or even share in the experience remotely in real time, even when you’re hundreds of miles away from the action.
In his blog post about the future of concerts, Ericsson’s Michael Björn argues that, while VR concerts may detract too much from the whole point of concerts (that is, to connect with the artists on stage and people around you), the potential of seamlessly combining physical with digital experiences could be a lot more appealing.
So, imagine this: instead of traveling to those far-flung places to catch your favorite artists, what if you could share in the same experience from your local concert venue using a live holographic representation of say, Bruce Springsteen, merged seamlessly with local musicians ? And what if that same global music event could be streamed simultaneously to hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide, yet still gives you an environment to bounce along to your favorite songs and interact with like-minded fans?
Think this is too far-fetched? Think again, as it’s already happening today thanks to ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus and his gang of pioneering avatars (or ABBAtars in ABBA-speak). Already, this concept is providing the benefits of making concerts more accessible to a wider audience, as well as reducing travel-associated emissions and the risk of super-spreader events.
Feel the thrill of the stadium
This summer, the world has become populated by armchair soccer and athletics fanatics, spurred on by the women’s soccer championships in Europe and North America, and the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, US. While the most die-hard fans will have had the pleasure to trek to the events themselves, the mainstay of moral support has been largely filled by sofa pundits, like me, watching from home on a flat 2D screen. But surely there must be some kind of in-between?
With 5G, there is. Augmented- and virtual reality, and even tactile immersion, are enabling new ways for armchair fans to immerse themselves in real-time events that are unfolding many thousands away.
As Penny Schröder-Smith puts it in her blog on the future of sports: ”Sports and players are set to enter the home itself through augmented and virtual reality. It won’t matter if season tickets are hard to obtain, or if a stadium is inaccessible for some fans. In the future, every seat will be the best seat in the house through immersive technology, which will bridge the current gap between the stadium and the home experience.”
One market which is ahead of the curve in trialing these possibilities is Germany. This summer, a so-called “Innovation Game” supported by Deutsche Telekom and played out between the Bundesliga’s FC Köln and Serie A’s AC Milan demonstrated how this can be introduced as a new consumer offering on the market, thanks to immersive augmented reality replays made possible by mobile sky cams and player-worn body cams. This example builds on earlier 5G augmented reality fan experience trials such as 5G SIM enabled cameras and immersive AR fans applications that provide images, statistics and match analysis as an AR overlay in real-time.
Learn local lingo in real time
For me, going on vacation is all about going off the beaten tourist track and immersing yourself in the local scene, culture and language.
Now thanks to VR-assisted hybrid learning, you can find everything you’re looking for from the comfort of your own home. Today there are many VR language learning apps available on the market which allow you to put your foreign vernacular to the test in tricky real-life situations and without the pressure of stumbling or stuttering. And all the while you can receive real-time feedback on your pronunciation and delivery.
So, who knows, maybe next time you go on vacation you’ll have the verve to step outside your old comfort zone of “Lei parla inglese?”
And if you haven’t the time or knack to learn the language but still want to keep in touch with friends, the low latency of 5G now even makes it possible to automate translation simultaneously in real time without lag or delay. This technology is already available today both in the cloud, via powerful AI-enabled voice-to-text and voice-to-voice translation engines, and even in-built within 5G-enabled devices through powerful processors, as demonstrated by Qualcomm.
Revisit your favorite places on-demand
What if technology could make all the spatial, haptic and other sensory aspects of your all-time favorite places available to you on-demand in an instant? So, instead of scrolling through vacation snaps, you could transcend to space where your physical and digital perceptions would be merged; a space where you would literally smell the scent of the surrounding environment or hear nearby sounds with full spatial effect – like the smell of a warm evening breeze, or the crashing of the waves as the tide rolls in.
Ericsson calls this the Internet of Senses and in its latest hot consumer trends report it has even designed hybrid reality malls of the future where all this will take place, also known as the ‘everyday plaza’.
Ericsson’s Sara Thorson delves deeper into this world of immersive experiences with XR in her recent blog post, in which she predicts that digital and physical worlds will ultimately become increasingly indistinguishable from each other:
“Like deep fake videos that fool the eye and ear with lifelike copies, which can be both entertaining and scary, the blend of digital and reality can also give us fantastic and unrealistic additions to our daily lives. The point is that digital or remote visuals, such as rendered objects or holographic video with spatial sound and even the possibility to touch, will be integrated with our physical context of reality.”
This year, UK service provider EE laid a marker on that flight path when it created a digital immersive tour of digitally enhanced tropical rainforests, freshwater and saltwater worlds in central London. Known as the Green Planet AR Experience, EE demonstrated the ability of 5G standalone and edge computing to recreate powerful virtual worlds where seasons change and animal- and plant life can be rendered in real time.
So, with all that in mind, and exciting immersive reality use cases under development and on the horizon, your next vacation might just be powered by 5G.
Visit Ericsson’s learning pages on extended reality, immersive holographic communication and the Internet of Senses.
Take a tour of the 12 unexpected 5G metaverse use places of the future.
Learn more about immersive AR storytelling and the impact of connectivity on digital and real world experiences.
Visit Ericsson Consumer Lab’s merged reality everyday plaza of the future.