The metaverse is a looming technological landscape that promises to fundamentally change how we work, play, and socialize in our daily lives. However, at the heart of this brave new digital frontier will be 5G connectivity, paving the way for data speeds that will deliver the technology of tomorrow.
The age of the metaverse is already upon us, and analysts anticipate more and more applications to arrive in the metaverse over the coming years.
At the foundation of this growth will be 5G, the cellular standard that many metaverse-facing firms will be counting on to achieve the levels of connectivity that will help to make the data-consuming virtual constructs of sprawling worlds truly come to life.
“5G has a significant task on its hands to power an industry that’s poised for exponential growth over the next decade.”
5G has a significant task on its hands to power an industry that’s poised for exponential growth over the next decade. In 2021, the global metaverse market size was estimated to stand at $39 billion, while 2022 saw estimates grow to $47 billion. Should the metaverse continue on its path toward growth, we may witness a $679 billion industry rise.
The metaverse will take several forms and be accessible through augmented reality and virtual reality headsets and tools. Powered by Web 3.0 tools, we’re set to see a new level of user experience where websites and apps will have the ability to process information in a more intelligent manner and be capable of delivering personalized experiences through machine learning.
Already, many major tech companies are scrambling to release the potential of the metaverse, with Meta, Google, Microsoft, Snap, HTC, and Apple all seeking to create interconnected devices to make the metaverse more accessible for users. Hardware like HTC’s VIVE VR and Meta’s Oculus Quest are strong early examples of metaverse-facing technology. Still, it’s likely that more sophistication will be required en route to developing a virtual ecosystem that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg believes we will one day ‘live in’.
How 5G will power the Metaverse
We have already seen glimpses of how the metaverse can change how we access entertainment. From immersive video games to VR fashion shows, many real-life staples are already making the jump into digital environments. However, for the metaverse to truly emerge into mainstream usage, it’s essential that users have the connectivity to process the vast data that Web 3.0 apps will produce.
“Fundamentally, the metaverse will require huge amounts of computational power, and both AR and VR depend on specialized hardware, powerful CPUs, and data storage.”
Fundamentally, the metaverse will require huge amounts of computational power, and both AR and VR depend on specialized hardware, powerful CPUs, and data storage. At its core, the metaverse will only succeed in an environment where low latency and fast streaming are assured–otherwise the immersive experience will be lost on mass audiences.
This is where 5G enters the fray. With typical download speeds reaching hundreds of megabits per second and latency falling to single-digit milliseconds, this generation of mobile connectivity will be the first to be capable of accommodating metaverse platforms.
Crucially, the availability of 5G-ready smartphones and devices is rising while costs are falling in developed countries. However, this is not the case on a global scale. 5G bandwidth must be made more available and affordable throughout every continent to help the metaverse achieve its potential.
The metaverse will only be capable of succeeding in an environment where user interactions are seamless without latency issues and lag coming into play to ruin the overall experience. 5G is imperative in delivering this because applications can utilize edge rendering and streaming to offload more processing to edge computing as a whole–which helps to power smoother experiences without having to rely on processing scores of data through the app itself.
The next-generation workplace
5G also serves as an excellent solution to growing issues associated with the emergence of work-from-home (WFH) in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to an Owl Labs State of Remote Work report from 2021, 84% of employees are happier working from home, while a PwC US Remote Work Survey found that 83% of employers have found that employees are more productive when working on a remote basis.
Although these statistics show that WFH is likely to be here to stay in some form or another, it also presents firms with challenges in terms of managing human interaction on a similar scale to that in traditional office environments.
With task delegation still an essential component of many businesses, 5G and the metaverse can work to break down the communicative barriers facing many companies in the remote work era.
It’s through 5G that businesses can replicate in-person interactions within the metaverse on a low-latency basis that ensures nothing is lost in translation. For all the developments in video conferencing in the wake of the pandemic, employees still struggle to build meaningful bonds with their colleagues, but with 5G helping to support connectivity for AR and VR devices, the metaverse is likely to be capable of hosting immersive virtual experiences and team meetings that can help to bring employees closer together.
A steppingstone to an interconnected future
Here, it is important to note that 5G is likely to provide us with a comprehensive glimpse into an interconnected future. It’s also more likely to be an essential stepping stone toward even more powerful cellular technologies that will take the metaverse to new heights.
6G will ultimately take the work of 5G and accelerate it, paving the way for a more comprehensive merge between the physical and digital worlds.
“6G will ultimately take the work of 5G and accelerate it, paving the way for a more comprehensive merge between the physical and digital worlds.”
Through immersive interactions with both AR and VR, human augmentation will be capable of going to the next level with the rise of digital twins and spatial computers. Through digital twins, it will be possible to monitor, design, simulate, analyze, optimize, and anticipate the behavior of physical systems. At the same time, spatial computing will be capable of delivering fully engaging experiences that can emulate the real world.
Although we may still be many years away from the age of the digital twin, it will be 5G that forms the cornerstone of the modern metaverse. It’s certainly worth watching this space. The lower latency means it’s liable to change at a far quicker pace.
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