Inside Verizon’s 5G lab + Sunday NY Times: Can Holograms Give Surgeons X-Ray Vision?

Verizon showed off new technology at its Cambridge, MA lab last week, seeking to demonstrate that (pre-standard) “5G” networks are as much about reducing latency as they are about providing blazing speeds.  (That’s bizarre because the low latency component of 5G won’t be specified until 3GPP Release 16 and IMT 2020).

The #1 U.S. wireless telco showed out a robot that could potentially rescue people in dangerous situations and explained how 5G will lead to advances in education, medicine and other areas.  “With 5G, the robot and the operator can communicate instantly,” said Yan Gu, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

Verizon paid for a “5G” flyer ad insert in Sunday’s NY Times: Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband Brings AR Surgery to Life.  It was quite impressive, but very futuristic in this author’s opinion.  “Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband is a new canvas for innovation.” said CHRISTIAN GUIRNALDA, DIRECTOR OF VERIZON’S 5G LABS.

At Columbia University, staff and students use Verizon’s 5G Labs to experiment with remote physical therapy using virtual reality. The technology allows patients and therapists to use a virtual reality headset and controller to manipulate shared objects within a virtual environment. This level of smooth interactivity and responsiveness is possible with Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband connectivity.

Dr. Choudhry, left, and Dr. Christopher Morley, wearing an AR headset, use Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband to test Medivis. 

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Current Status of “5G” in U.S.:

In the US, Verizon and AT&T, the nation’s two biggest wireless carriers, have switched on mobile 5G networks in only a small handful of locations. Sprint just turned on its network in four cities at the end of May, right about the same time that wireless carrier EE became the UK’s first 5G provider.

Verizon customers looking to experience “5G” right now will have to head to Chicago or Minneapolis, and then find the right street corners — plus buy one of the very few 5G-capable phones out there at the moment. By the end of this year, you won’t have to look quite so hard. Verizon plans to double the coverage area in those two cities, and also drop “5G” into 30 additional cities. (In addition, the company has a “5G” home service in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, California.)

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5G use cases and applications -from remote surgery to mixed reality and autonomous cars – are expected to thrive. “They just get better with 5G,” said Christian Guirnalda, director of Verizon’s 5G Labs.

To help drive that point home, Verizon’s demo before a group of journalists showcased a small array of projects experimenting with 5G in health care, manufacturing and public safety, tapping into the company’s Ultra Wideband service. It was a showcase of winners of the company’s 5G Robotics Challenge and other partners working in the Cambridge facility.

The Cambridge lab, set in a colonial-style brick building on a leafy side street nestled next to the Harvard University campus, is one of five that the company’s currently operating. The others are in New York; Washington, DC; Los Angeles; and Palo Alto, California.

A product manager at Proximie shows how 5G helps bring AR capabilities to telemedicine.
A product manager at Proximie shows how 5G helps bring AR capabilities to telemedicine.Jon Skillings/CNET

With a Verizon 5G small cell lurking overhead, software maker Proximie, based in Bedford, Massachusetts, demonstrated its cloud-based, augmented reality-capable telemedicine platform on a high-resolution screen with multiple livestreams — as many as three upload and six download streams running at about 10 to 12 megabits per second each.

A Proximie product manager moved her hand across a blank tabletop in front of a camera, and the screens showed the hand overlaid on a cutaway model of a mock patient’s midsection. It illustrated how a doctor in LA could provide AR input to a surgeon performing an operation in New York without lag or dropped signal. The system could also allow, say, radiology images to be matched up with the view of the patient.

“Once it’s rolled out, it’s gonna change the game,” said Auri Vizgaitis, Proximie’s lead software architect.

“5G lets us get more computing off the device,” said Rahul Chipalkatty, CEO of Boston-based robotics software maker Southie Autonomy.

But even with these industrial applications in mind, there’s still a spot for 5G-enabled smartphones. Pittsburgh-based robotics company RealBotics demonstrated how 5G could help get factory employees up to speed on managing robots, through a combination of smartphone speed, low latency, HD video and augmented reality via edge computing.

The advances these companies are envisioning — highly capable autonomous cars, far-flung surgeons collaborating in real time, the internet of things working in high gear — are the future that 5G’s been dangling in front of us for a while now, and probably will for some time still to come.

“It will exist at some point in the future,” said Palmer. “This lab is about how do you innovate on top of that network.”

References:

https://www.cnet.com/news/verizon-5g-lab-tunes-up-robots-and-medical-tech-heading-your-way/

https://www.nytimes.com/paidpost/verizon/can-holograms-give-surgeons-x-ray-vision.html

2 thoughts on “Inside Verizon’s 5G lab + Sunday NY Times: Can Holograms Give Surgeons X-Ray Vision?

  1. OpenSignal: No country manages to break the 30ms Latency Experience milestone In only 13 of the 87 countries we rated our users averaged Latency Experience scores under 40 milliseconds, while none scored under 30ms. One continent dominated our Latency Experience analysis, with six European countries in our top 10. 5G’s designers target much improved latency as one of their goals. That low latency has yet to be realized and won’t even be spec’d till 3GPP Release 16 is completed in early 2021!

    https://www.opensignal.com/sites/opensignal-com/files/data/reports/global/data-2019-05/the_state_of_mobile_experience_may_2019_0.pdf

  2. Verizon Communications Inc. VZ recently launched its fifth 5G-enabled device — Inseego Corp.’s MiFi M1000. Markedly, the Inseego MiFi is Verizon’s first business-ready 5G device that combines bandwidth and speed to meet customers’ expectations, with enterprise-grade security for businesses.

    Furthermore, the telecom and media giant launched 5G Ultra Wideband mobility service in Saint Paul, MN. The latest addition joins Denver, Chicago, Minneapolis and Providence (in select locations) as the fifth of more than 30 Verizon 5G mobility cities that the company plans to launch in 2019. (Read more: Verizon Launches Inseego 5G MiFi, Service Reaches St. Paul)

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