Next-generation 5G networks are expected to deliver far much more data much more quickly than 4G, which expands the possibilities of real-time communication.
The ramifications of that capability extend not just to remote data transmission, but to new levels of automation that can dramatically advance industry, specifically: manufacturing, healthcare, retail, transportation and agriculture. (Read All Your Questions About 5G — Answered.)
How Will 5G Affect Manufacturing?
5G makes it possible to build “smart factories” that can draw on the power of connectivity for to achieve greater safety, efficiency, and automation
As a ZDnet article put it in "Will the smart factory benefit from 5G? Industry experts weigh in", the benefits of 5G for manufacturing include better data streams in real time, though it goes beyond that through enabling greater flexibility:
“Through Internet of Things (IoT) networks of sensors on the factory floor and through the supply chain, operators can be made aware of problems not in a linear fashion, but through the real-time collection and analysis of data ranging from machine performance, staff activity, and logistics — as well as through predictive analytics.”
In the video below, you can see a brief presentation on how AT&T and Samsung showcase the factory of the future that capitalizes on advanced technology that runs on 5G. The 5G Innovation Zone at Samsung Austin Semiconductor allows visitors to experience seven different uses cases in manufacturing that will improve safety and efficiency while expanding the possibilities of robots that are aware of their surroundings.
5G in Healthcare
Telemedicine could really take off without the latency problem not just for diagnosis of remote patients but even for surgery.
Back in 2018, the The American Medical Association (AMA) included a push for expanding connectivity among its policies. As Dr. Gerald E. Harmon pointed out, “Patients stand at the intersection of health and technology. Without broadband and wireless, patients in underserved areas will face even greater health challenges."
The way 5G enable automation and robotics to advance in manufacturing is being explored for healthcare to realize the vision of remote robotic-assisted surgery. In January 2019 the first remote-surgery equipment using 5G mobile network technology was tested in China when a doctor in Fujian removed the liver of in a different location.
The 5G connection allowed him to control the robotic arms that carried out the surgery with only .1 seconds of lag time.
As it says in the description of the video below, “Researchers said the high-speed can reduce the risk of deadly medical mistakes, and raises hopes that 5G-enabled remote surgery will soon be reliable enough for use on human patients.”
5G and Its Role in Retail
5G extends the usability of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), which could give people the chance to try on things virtually at home or in stores.
In an April 2019 press release, Gartner proclaimed “100 Million Consumers Will Shop in Augmented Reality Online and In-Store by 2020.” The release quotes Anna Karki, principal research analyst at Gartner, who said that consumer demand and expectations for retail experiences are prompting retailer to find technological solutions, including “AR and VR to offer customers a unified retail experience inside and outside retail stores.”
Karki explained that it enables customers to experience “immersive environments” by referencing IKEA’s Place app that makes it possible to see various pieces of furniture available for sale within their own homes. She added that "AR can be used outside the store after a sale to increase customer satisfaction and improve loyalty.”
The same release quotes Sylvain Fabre, senior research director at Gartner observing that 5G can be used to improve "not only customer engagement but also the entire product management cycle of brands.” He pointed out that: “5G can optimize warehouse resources, enhance store traffic analytics and enable beacons that communicate with shoppers’ smartphones.”
See more specific applications for retail in the video below:
5G Driving the Future of Transportation
Connectivity can make diving safer.
As explained in Carritech, 5G enables two types of communication that are key to improving safety for drivers: “Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I).” One way V2V can be used in alerting a driver that cars ahead are braking even before the driver can see the brake lights ahead.
As many collisions are caused by hitting cars that come to sudden stop, prior notice can avert a serious accident. Should the condition necessitating stops be one in the road, the V2I communication can allow the driver to know that in time to take an alternative route and avoid congestion.
Such awareness of other cars and road conditions are prerequisites for the safe operation of autonomous vehicles. (Read 7 Autonomous Vehicle Myths Debunked.)
Autonomy analyst Tasha Keeney was quoted in The Drive referring to the potential benefits of being able to transmit more larger streams of data in real time, including a ”full video feed or more information from the full sensor suite.”
That can be especially helpful in emergency situations that call for some intervention from “human remote operators.” Both the V2V and B2I data can also better direct the autonomous cars for safety and efficiency.
5G Shaping Agriculture
With real-time data delivered via 5G, farmers can monitor, track, and automate their systems to optimize results.
The Internet of Cows is already in place with dairy farmers applying sensors and smart collars to their cows to pick up on data in real-time. One company that offers that service in app form called Me+Moo is UK-based 5G Rural First. The company intends to demonstrate the value of 5G for agriculture through the app that keeps farmers aware of what their cows are doing at all times, and they did get buy-in from the government. .
An ABC News article about its implementation quotes Mark Gough, one of the herdsman at the Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre: "You can be at one end of the building, you get an alert, it's telling you exactly which cow it is, what the problem potentially is, and it's an instant assessment."
Beyond merely relaying data, the same principles that make autonomous driving possible can enable farms to operate autonomously with self-driven tractors and other machines. That was demonstrated in England by the Hands Free Hectare project, which is managed by Harper Adams University and Precision Decisions.
You can see the video of the hands free wheat harvest taking place here:
Gartner predicted that by 2020, worldwide 5G wireless network infrastructure revenue will hit $4.2 billion, an amount that represents an 89% increase over the $2.2 billion figure associated with 2019.
That rapid rate of growth just a single year attest to the proven benefits of 5G for a whole array of industries.