holographic display
Aleksandra Pedraszewska

Get ready for next-generation of holographic display – thanks to the era of 5G

The switch was flipped on May 30th, when the long-awaited 5G network finally became available in select cities across the UK.

Many of us are excited about 5G bringing promise of more signal, quicker downloads and lower latency (response time). But while the prospect of a faster Netflix is not to be overlooked, the opportunities go so much further than streaming Stranger Things without staring in frustration at a buffering screen. 5G is going to revolutionise how we view and interact with content, products and objects across industries – and across realities.

Flipping the switch

Perhaps the greatest indicator of consumer appetite for 5G is a report by Ericsson which finds that most consumers (67%) are willing to pay extra for 5G services. What these services will look like will evolve over time. But almost immediately, we will be able to access enhanced mobile broadband, 5G hot zones in airports and high streets, and AR and VR infotainment and entertainment in cars and on smart-glasses.

Nowhere will 5G have more effect than in the realm of content and entertainment. According to Campaign, the media industry stands to gain $765bn worldwide in cumulative revenues from the services and applications that 5G will power. The Ericsson report shows that we will be watching three hours’ more content away from home on our mobile devices, directly as a result of this change. This is down to the pure speed of 5G: you will be able to download feature films in seconds and stream AR and VR content seamlessly.

But it’s not only the speed of AR and VR content that will change; it’s also the way we experience it. We have all had slightly underwhelming VR experiences while the technology was maturing. But 5G has the power to change that – moving content from a 2D screen to an immersive holographic projection. Essentially, we have already reached the limit of human perception on 2D screens that we currently use to consume content, including AR/VR. This means that, unfortunately, 8K television you’ve got your eyes on just isn’t going to be noticeably higher res. But 5G will bring high-definition holograms to life, by powering the huge number of pixels needed for more immersive, realistic 3D visualisations.

5G is going to be great for the availability of 2D content – but revolutionary for the new way of projecting content as 3D holograms.

Holography in the palm of your hand

5G is information everywhere, in a fraction of a second, at your fingertips. So with 5G-enabled smartphones comes a world of possibilities, with high-quality 3D experiences available everywhere on everyday devices. Nearly half (40%) of the respondents Ericsson surveyed expect holographic projection to be a feature on upcoming 5G devices.

Imagine scanning food packaging for interactive content showing you where and how it was grown so you can make ethical choices, or deciding where to have your meeting based on an interactive map of local coffee shops. Within a year following the network becoming available, these experiences could become the deciding factor for consumers on whether or not to buy.

In the not-so-distant future

Smartphones might be the device through which we explore our next-generation experiences – or they might become obsolete as smart glasses make a real entry into the market. The Ericsson report shows 50% of consumers believe we may all be wearing AR glasses by 2025. It also predicts that we will be watching an extra hour of content on AR or VR glasses per week. These glasses may well become the norm, and it will be the first step in a move away from screen-based displays to holographic projections. This is a logical evolution in a world of increasing connectivity.

Soon we will be able to move seamlessly through worlds both real and virtual, with the same ease with which we move offline and online today. VR, AR and MR will no longer be the preserve of keen gamers; they will be omnipresent and instantly accessible to anyone. With smart glasses the new normal, and powered by 5G, next-generation content will be personalised, immersive and responsive, changing today’s 2D and 3D video experiences in myriad ways.

AR maps will help you explore cities virtually. Transport for London will have holographic projections guiding you to the right Tube platform. Your car will have a 3D assistant guiding you as you drive to your favourite hangouts. Product placement in videos could change depending on the individual watching. Restaurants will show tantalising interactive, live content of food being prepared before delivery to whet the appetite of their customers. Articles about exotic places in the world could virtually transport you to walk through them, from Angkor Wat to a Bahamas beach, before you book a hotel.

Making holograms a reality

5G is going to finally make holographic display a reality. And this will intersect with other interesting tech, such as haptics (touch technologies) which will evolve alongside it. Whether it’s touching the silk fabric of a dress before buying it in a VR shopping environment, or enabling students to interact more immersively (and therefore more memorably) with the subjects they are studying, haptics and holograms are natural bedfellows.

Imagine the possibilities of virtual medical consultations for people living in underserved rural areas, or of collaboratively designing 3D models in virtual space with people on the other side of the world. Across industries, haptics and holography, powered by 5G, will enable people to work remotely while collaborating with others across the globe in a virtual environment.

5G is information in a blink of an eye. For us as consumers, it means new and exciting ways of seeing and connecting with the world. For businesses, it is a time of innovation, of next-generation holographic content. For everyone, it heralds the beginning of a truly 3D world.

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