06 Nov Exploring 5G Opportunities in Diverse Industries
In the first post in this two-part series, I noted that 5G networks are emerging as a key to richuser experiences, high-quality enterprise services and new business opportunities. Today, I will take things a step further and look at some of the specific ways that 5G is making a difference in industrial, healthcare and retail applications.
I selected these three industries because expected benefits are already assessed and on their way to 5G-trials that are expected to measurably enable new business processes and services. However, in reality we could look at virtually any industry, because 5G is poised to unleash new opportunities for all private and public enterprises. For organizations everywhere, 5G is both evolutionary and revolutionary.
As the following examples will show, the impact of 5G is magnified when you pair this high-bandwidth, low-latency network technology with other emerging technologies, including Edge computing, computer vision and artificial intelligence.
For industrial enterprises, including manufacturers and utilities, 5G technology is powering the automation and optimization of operational processes. Although “half a step” behind 5G networks provided by major Communication Service Providers (CoSPs), private 5G networks are emerging as a way to deploy 5G end-to-end implementations, provide secure and robust in-building communications, and extend the service domain such that customers have a choice in managing their own networks or having a CoSP manage the end point in the customer premises. This provides additional service offerings for CoSPs and a consistent end-to-end 5G experience for customers.
Manufacturers are transforming their operations with innovative 5G-enabled Edge computing solutions that collect telemetry and other data from the factory floor. In some cases, the automated data collection, Edge processing and Edge analytics enable issue identification and remediation closer to where the data is generated. These smart manufacturing solutions allow intelligent systems to take immediate actions to optimize machinery performance, equipment maintenance, supply chains, logistics, security worker safety and more. When coupled with 5G-connected off-site management and oversight teams, business-critical images, video and data are transferred unencumbered to personnel who can quickly confirm the situation and assist with the remediation.
In healthcare environments, the speed of 5G networks and the immediacy of Edge computing are enabling innovative approaches to medical care, including telemedicine and real-time diagnoses, and are laying the path toward virtual reality (VR) surgery.
In this new era, healthcare providers can monitor the wellbeing of patients and patient-care devices remotely, whether those patients are down the hall or in their homes. Add to this the need to keep track of critical staff, equipment and medicine inventory, from GPS, sensors and other telemetry, and it becomes easy to understand why the real-time access and analysis of this information can be life-critical. The resulting patient care environment becomes a virtual hospital that can potentially scale across many remote patients. These capabilities help providers deliver smarter care, respond faster to health emergencies, and automate burdensome data collection tasks to meet compliance and reporting requirements.
With the combination of 5G networks, Edge computing, computer vision and artificial intelligence, retailers are creating an omnichannel revolution — and changing the ground rules for an industry. With these new technologies, retailers are offering omnichannel shopping experiences, frictionless checkout and enhanced sales, inventory and targeted transactional operations.
At the same time, the speed of 5G connectivity is helping brick-and-mortar retailers in their loss-prevention efforts by enabling real-time analysis of data from computer vision systems that keep an eye on the retail floor and its checkout lines. These systems work in conjunction with Edge computing devices to detect signs of shoplifting, label switching and other unlawful behaviors.
The high bandwidth and low latency of 5G networks makes connectivity both immediate and ubiquitous. But 5G is about much more than connectivity. For the digital enterprise, this leap forward in technology is enabling new business services and operational processes that wouldn’t be possible in a 4G world.
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Adam Mendoza is a Field Sales Engineer for Intel, focusing on communication service providers and networking solutions.
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