Lucas San Pedro, CTO, Immerse explains how 5G and cloud computing can herald a new era of virtual reality.

The workplace has changed beyond recognition in the last year, and business leaders are recognising the need to revolutionise their training methods to equip their teams for an uncertain future. As traditional classroom-based training models become a distant memory, businesses are looking for solutions through digital platforms, allowing immersive technologies to take centre stage.

Virtual reality (VR) is becoming one of the stand-out immersive technologies to transform the learning experience within the enterprise, with companies such as BP, Shell, DHL, and Facebook all using this technology to train their employees. In the current climate of increased remote working and disrupted business travel, VR offers a vital way of providing interactive, collaborative training. And with data-driven insight, not only can training programmes be tailored to the learner, but organisations can monitor the effectiveness and ROI of their programmes.
If this technology is so revolutionary, then why are we not seeing it being deployed across more workplaces? There are still barriers to adoption but advances in the interconnectivity of 5G and cloud computing could go some way towards removing these.

The cost of connectivity

Before VR can become truly mainstream, one of its largest barriers to adoption needs to be broken down: the price of the headset. VR is intensive and, for content to be effective, it must meet a lot of requirements. It needs to be run at a very high frame rate to render environments quickly, ensuring the experience is realistic and is not going to induce motion sickness. To do this, VR headsets are required to do a lot of heavy lifting, such as hosting and processing content at speed. This makes them sophisticated devices, and these come with a cost.

This is where cloud technology comes in. There is only so much power you can put in headsets, but if VR content can be handled in the cloud, effectively all you need is a dummy terminal to receive this information. This means that the device itself can be simple, lightweight and crucially, low-cost. It will also allow for software-as-a-service subscription-based models, which would give businesses more flexibility when implementing this tech.

The power of 5G

One of the key challenges with streaming this content via the cloud is latency. Incorporating the movements of the user into a virtual environment requires huge amounts of graphical rendering power. Every motion captured by the device must be sent up to the cloud, processed and sent back to the device. If the latency is too high, it will create a lag and the calculations become a problem.

What if there was a way to take all this heavy lifting and put it in the cloud while also ensuring the content was able to run smoothly? 5G is set to make this happen. While 4G networks currently are the mainstream, 5Gs super high speeds and low latency will open the industry. 5G enables an almost sci-fi level of immediacy, processing information four to five times faster than its predecessor and delivering a seamless experience to the user.

VR for the masses

The interconnectivity of 5G and cloud computing is a game-changer for enterprise VR. With budgets tight, many business leaders have been delaying the adoption of immersive technology, but with faster internet connection increasingly solving latency issues and bringing down the cost of headsets, these businesses may look to take the leap.

Together, these technologies could open the gates to more VR programmes being used to develop a wider range of skills across a wider range of industries, unlocking enterprise VR for the masses.

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