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Edge computing and 5G will change your life (eventually)

It had the potential to be the most high-tech game of table tennis I’d ever played.

Unfortunately, a perfect storm of hardware issues, network issues, and a game that kept crashing meant I didn’t get to experience this power.

HTC's 5G hub will soon let you stream virtual reality content directly into a Vive headset, no PC required.

HTC’s 5G hub will soon let you stream virtual reality content directly into a Vive headset, no PC required.

The next demonstration was a remote-control car where the driver was watching a video feed from a camera mounted on the car to see where to go. Unfortunately, an unintuitive controller made steering challenging, leading to several crashes that had the car needing to make a couple of extended pit stops, which provided a chilling look into the potential future of connected cars.

Self-driving cars are often touted as one of the big advantages of edge computing and better networks. But even CEO of Waymo (Alphabet’s self-driving car division) believes that autonomous cars which can drive in all conditions without human intervention will never exist.

Google parent Alphabet is pursuing self-driving cars through its Waymo subsidiary, but the tech may never be perfect.

Google parent Alphabet is pursuing self-driving cars through its Waymo subsidiary, but the tech may never be perfect.Credit:AP

However the industry that is most likely to benefit from more robust networks and a more reliable internet of things is actually farming.

“A sector like agriculture will benefit from 5G’s scalability to millions of connected devices for such things as soil and crop monitoring and management,” a Telstra spokesperson said.

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“Fibre-like data speeds, low latency and high performance [will allow for a] connected supply chain, and industry 4.0 smart agriculture and precision farming.”

Automating more of the farming processes would be huge for reducing costs over time and offloading some of the more dangerous tasks to machines. It’s already revolutionising farming in places where there is sufficient money to invest, and a good enough network for it to be reliable.

But many of the Australian areas with the big farms that would benefit most are still lucky to catch even the faintest whiff of 3G connectivity, so these benefits are pretty far off for them.

For city-living people, the big potential benefit of such networks would be smaller, lighter devices with longer battery life, offloading all the expensive and energy hungry processing to remote networks. A great example of this is Microsoft’s upcoming xCloud project, which will allow people to play their full high-end video games through their phone or any connected device.

The big question will be whether these simpler devices will save consumers money, or whether the the savings will be mitigated by the cost of using the network. For the most part we won’t need to answer that question for some time yet, as 5G is still in its infancy and there are still plenty of kinks to be ironed out.

Still, it’s a nice dream to have.

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