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Immersion in a Better Connected World

By William Xu

Immersive technology is an inevitable trend. And today, we stand on the verge of an explosion of such technologies, in the forms of next-gen video & communications, remote reality, augmented reality, and virtual reality, culminating a 100-year trend of our screens moving closer to us and growing more interactive, from far-off movie screens to headsets, where the screens sit next to our eyes.

Next-gen immersive tech represents a quantum leap in terms of user experience over what came before. Some people think it’s just about gaming, but the potential is far greater – the death of distance, enhanced cognition, user empowerment, and a more inspired way of life, for starters.

How, exactly? Tomorrow’s video will be an interactive medium, a tool as much as a diversion. Next-gen comms will erase distances, and enable digital enhancements to the real-time equation. Augmented reality will make expertise more freely available, and greatly reduce the need to look down at our phones. And virtual reality… well virtual reality represents a whole new world – worlds, in fact.

Who’s taking the lead? Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are all making investments, acquiring companies, or offering products. All no doubt would like to be the interfaces, homepages and gatekeepers of immersive cyberspace. What’s in it for them? An immersive environment represents an order-of-magnitude increase in terms of user insight, as constant user input/feedback and precise eyeball tracking (a prerequisite for many forms of immersive tech) will enable an understanding of what users are looking for every second the interface is active, not just what users like, click, and how long they idle between clicks, as we have today. In other words, digital immersion tech will help Big Data live up to its billing as the digital oil of the 21st century.

What’s Huawei’s interest in all this? Well, we worry about our customers,and the networks they depend on, who have to support all this. Highquality virtual reality experiences could require bitrates approaching the Gigabit-range, while network latencies will have to be comparable to human response times (about one-tenth of a second) if remote surgeons operating via robot hands are to be able to do their work safely. Today, network latency could be up to 20-times that.

There’s still work to be done, and Huawei is on the case, from the hardware that carries the data, to the software that compresses the data, to the computing that analyzes the data, to the interfaces that bring the data to life. Why? Because with immersion, connection will be redefined, as will reality.    

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