The Future with 5G

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5G is the latest generation of cellular communication. It’s significantly faster than 4G, has a higher capacity for data, and has the bandwidth to support interconnected devices without slowdowns.

The technology is still being tested, and only a limited number of people currently have access to 5G. A full transition won’t happen overnight, but the mere idea opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. For growing business owners, 5G will eliminate the need for a lot of IT-related infrastructure. It should also allow companies to better utilize the Internet of Things to track and monitor equipment that isn’t currently internet accessible. To take it even further, incorporate virtual reality with a 5G network and we’re talking about a whole new world.

In Trenegy’s book, “Jar(gone),” co-author Peter Purcell envisions what a world catalyzed by 5G might look like. The following is an adaptation from the book.

Ever see the futuristic crime thriller “Minority Report,” starring Tom Cruise? In one scene, Tom walks into The Gap sporting his newly-transplanted black-market eyeballs. A computer scans his Franken-eyeball and a holographic sales associate chirps, “Hello, Mr. Yakimoto! Welcome back to The Gap. How’d those assorted tank tops work out for you?” This quick exchange reveals a future world that has mastered the ambient user experience.

Ambient user experience is the idea of interacting with electronics with minimal user interface. Devices learn a user’s habits almost to the point where a device’s functionality becomes unnoticeable but critical in the user’s life—essentially ambient.

Where We Are Now

With current technology, individual devices learn from a user’s patterns to simplify their life with minimal user interface. Google Maps is one of the first visible examples—your smart phone can tell you when to leave the house to account for a 15-minute slowdown on the way to work.

Today, compatible devices can communicate with each other, but devices from different manufacturers are often incompatible. Apple devices communicate with Apple devices, and Amazon with Amazon. Across manufacturers, there’s a language barrier.

Meet the Jetsons

In an imaginary near-future world, all devices owned by a user or family can communicate, regardless of manufacturer or function. The user can truly live a smart life.

The alarm clock monitors breathing and wakes us at exactly the right time in the circadian rhythm. The alarm triggers our thermostat to raise the temperature to a comfortable 72 degrees. The morning playlist plays automatically while we dress. As we leave, the lights turn off, the thermostat rises to eco-mode, the doors lock, and the security alarm activates. In the car, the music switches to the car stereo and the navigation system calculates the best route to avoid traffic.

For this to become the norm, we’d need a common platform to render device manufacturer and configuration irrelevant. The Amazon Echo and Google Home are beginning to break this barrier.

A “Minority Report” World

Moving a little further into the future, imagine all devices working for you, regardless of ownership. Like John Anderton, imagine being identified with an eyeball scan, implanted microchip, or wearable device. Walk into a hotel room, and the room adjusts temperature and lighting levels to our liking. Borrow a friend’s iPhone, and the phone reflects our contacts, settings, and photos instead of theirs. Billboards reflect ads tailored to us when we walk into a store, and digital restaurant menus cater to our dietary preferences and restrictions.

The most obvious challenge is developing the technology to facilitate such a massive network, not to mention a user’s willingness to be on the grid. While a custom smart world sounds convenient, there’s no denying the creepy Big Brother factor. When every device becomes yours or someone else’s, concerns about security and privacy increase exponentially. A hack to a network of this scale could compromise sensitive personal information for everyone on the grid.

The idea of implanting microchips or incorporating retina scanning into everyday life is enough to make even the earliest adapters say, “Ehh, no thanks.”

The demand for ambient user experience has the potential to drive technology development into the next century. Market research has already established millennials and generation Z as the perfect target market: tech-savvy with a hunger for instant information. If implemented correctly, with a focus on security and privacy, this new experience could change the way we live, work, shop, and interact with technology. However, it will be up to the consumer to draw a line to tell technology developers how far is too far and how much information is too much information. And maybe we don’t want everyone in The Gap to know about our affinity for sleeveless garments…

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