The much-loved annual Tokyo Game Show rarely disappoints, and this year’s incarnation caused a particular stir thanks to the exciting intricacy of the 5G technology on show to visitors.
The video game expo ensured that a range of 5G base stations were installed at the Makuhari Messe convention centre this year, and the resulting displays caused quite a stir.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise on paper. 5G offers data transmission speeds that are up to 100-times faster than its 4G predecessor – meaning games can be significantly richer in detail while operating at a much lower latency.
5G and augmented reality
One particularly big draw for visitors at the Tokyo Game Show, open to the public between September 14th and 15th, was an augmented reality build of the ever-popular Street Fighter franchise.
Street Fighter V Arcade Edition combined the vast processing power of 5G with the brave new world of possibilities brought by AR to develop a gaming experience that’s a pioneering success.
Taking place at the NTT Docomo stand at the Game Show, users could watch fully three-dimensional duels between much loved Street Fighter characters take place within their physical location, with their respective smartphone screens acting as windows into the action.
Speaking to the Japan Times, an observer shared her impression of the display: “Since how the characters look changes as I move around, I could see them from different angles, from top or bottom. They would get smaller or bigger. It was fun,” she explained.
When we talk of 5G, it’s often reserved to the confines of discussing data speed and quicker streaming services, but the development’s implications for gaming opens the door to exponentially more ambitious projects set in both augmented reality and virtual reality.
Writing for WhistleOut, Ella Wagner explains that 5G could be exactly what the world of AR was waiting for in order to fully take off: “Even though AR technology has come a long way in half a century, to innovate a seamless ‘real-world’ experience for users, creators needed an entire system that could keep up with real-time events—and the speeds that 5G offers, completes that system,” Wagner surmises.
5G not only has the potential to change augmented reality as we know it but also to catapult new iterations of the technology into the limelight.
Remote Augmented Reality has been developing steadily over recent years, with the technology making waves in the fields of engineering and healthcare alongside the world of gaming.
The significant factor that sets Remote AR apart from traditional AR is that users can interact with each other from just about anywhere in the world. Their screens will display the same overlay, but the world that said overlay interacts with will vary on each user’s geographical location.
The influence that 5G could have on a piece of technology that would greatly benefit from faster data speeds is almost unfathomable, and it’s one that is already beginning to be utilised by Magic Leap in the development of its flagship application, Avatar Chat.
Avatar Chat takes the act of socialising and collaborating to the next level through Remote Augmented Reality. Microsoft HoloLens owners can download this program to build a digital avatar that can be digitally beamed into a room to communicate, nearly face to face, with friends, family, colleagues and so on.
This technology can leverage a wholly immersive experience for participants and may combat loneliness in some users who are based significantly far away from their friends and family through work or university.
Looking to the future
Augmented Reality made some significant inroads into becoming a household name after the advent of 4G. With the arrival of 5th Generation wireless data, we can reasonably expect the implementation of AR and Remote AR to be considerably more widespread.
SingularityHub reports that the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturers are racing to better embrace the growth of AR. Both Apple and Google have shown intent in producing handsets with increasingly advanced features that are designed to support the required infrastructure to implement ‘hyper-realistic AR.’ While the development of ARKit in iPhone software has begun to pave the way for a new generation of intuitive high-definition AR experiences on mobile devices.
Looking at comparison sites like Smartphone Checker, we can already see 5G-ready smartphones making their way onto the market from manufacturers in Eastern Asia, with the anticipated arrival of the technology forecast to be around 2020.
Augmented Reality has been capturing and re-capturing our collective imaginations since the summer of 2016, and with the imminent arrival of 5G connectivity, it may well turn out that we ‘ain’t seen nothing yet.