A new era for wearables

5G is the evolutionary link to where we are in the present and where we can go in the future.

Full Transparency

Our editorial transparency tool uses blockchain technology to permanently log all changes made to official releases after publication. However, this post is not an official release and therefore not tracked. Visit our learn more for more information.

Learn more

This year, when CES returned in person in Las Vegas, the show wowed tens of thousands of attendees with “technology of tomorrow” displayed by exhibitors from around the world whose innovation is advancing two significant trends: intelligent automation and the metaverse. Without a doubt, wearable technology will be key—along with 5G—to the evolution of each. But not the wearables of yesterday.

Some of today’s—and many of tomorrow’s—wearables have moved off the wrist and on to other parts of the body thanks in part to new capabilities enabled by 5G. Take Motorola, for example. Last year the company set out to push the boundaries of the look, feel and behavior of the mobile experience and worked with Lenovo to develop ThinkReality A3 smart glasses that allow users to display content on virtual screens around them.

This year, Motorola teamed with Verizon and went a step further, creating a hands-free 5G plug-and-play wearable neckband that turbocharges both AR glasses and VR goggles. Leveraging Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network and mobile edge compute platform, the lightweight neckband powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 mobile platform delivers high bandwidth and ultra-low latency connectivity to bring truly remarkable immersive experiences to life across a broad spectrum of industries.

Potential AR/VR applications include everything from medicine and manufacturing to sports and entertainment

Think about what this means for an engineer designing and building an airplane or robot, or a doctor training for a difficult surgery, or a professional sports team training for an event. With humans untethered and free to create and explore in both the physical and virtual worlds, the experiences are limited only to the imagination. Making the leap from 3G and 4G to 5G will be a watershed for wearables and the foundation of the mobile world in the coming months and years ahead. Here’s why: 5G represents a major generational change for wireless communications, and the anticipated benefits of 5G go far beyond increased speed. This new standard permits flexible bandwidth allocation, high capacity and low-latency communications and capabilities that make 5G networks a match for the most advanced technologies for virtualized and agile networking, as well as the Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing and cloud-computing processes and applications.

5G utilizes three groups of frequency bands:

  1. High band (includes millimeter wave, or mmWave - speeds can reach in the tens of Gbps with lower latency)

  2. Mid band (sub-6 GHz including C band - peak data speeds can reach as high as 1 Gbps)

  3. Low band (sub-1 GHz - peak data speeds top at around 100 Mbps)

Service providers can take advantage of the different bands to provide a range of throughput capacity with consistent, low-latency delivery over diverse geographies. The low-band spectrum propagates well, bringing with it improved building signal penetration, while mid-band, with its larger channel size, will be able to deliver subscriber services like hotspot-based mobile broadband, as well as ultra-reliable low-latency services across urban and suburban footprints. The mmWave spectrum provides the highest throughput, making solutions such as autonomous transportation and Industry 4.0 (near-real-time industrial automation) possible. Although the propagation range will be shorter (currently, about 2,500 yards in dense urban settings), it is expected to someday be able to support millions of connected devices with average peak speeds in the 1 Gbps range.

It’s the mid and high spectrums that are expected to deliver the most immersive experiences that can transform interactions for both employees and customers. In general, the lower latency and increased wireless bandwidth and flexibility of 5G will let organizations dream bigger about new projects that give them a competitive advantage, particularly as they apply their ideas to cloud-computing architecture. In lower bands, a key 5G capability is Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) technology, which gives providers the ability to expand 5G networks beyond dedicated deployments into areas they are currently serving via LTE. It allows a carrier to decide if the spectrum is used for LTE or 5G connections in real time, based on priority and the unique needs of customers.

Untethering education from the confines of the classroom and campus

Verizon recently brought 5G to university labs and test beds at Caltech and Penn State, as well as University of Illinois and University of Michigan and Arizona State University, where it is working with faculty, students, startups and established companies to test and develop use cases in a wide range of areas such as manufacturing, robotics, drones, autonomous vehicles, immersive education and more.

The field of education alone stands to benefit tremendously from wearable technology, taking students out of the classroom and into experiences and locations they may otherwise never experience. World-famous museums, opera houses, underwater reefs, remote civilizations and even space are just a few of the infinite possibilities for exploration without requiring travel outside of a building or campus.

5G will give healthcare the shot in the arm it needs to level up the industry

Particularly as health has come into sharp focus in the last two years, 5G will usher in a new generation of wearables that do more than monitor vital signs and track fitness. Empatica—an MIT spin-off—has developed a wrist-worn wearable for epilepsy. Called Embrace2, it can detect a convulsive seizure before it occurs and instantly alert caregivers, whether they're in the next room or hundreds of miles away.

For people who are blind or have low vision, Aira provides live, on-demand visual information through its mobile app or smart glasses. Users can opt in to connect to human agents who can see their environment through the user’s smartphone camera. Agents can help describe objects, read signs, provide navigation and much more, whether they are in an airport, grocery store or walking outdoors in a city.

New applications and wearable technology depending on real-time data transmission and security will get a significant boost with 5G and mobile-edge computing, which will allow complex functions to be performed closer to the user and away from decentralized servers. This not only reduces network latency but also enables the near-real-time execution some of these wearable technologies will need to reach their full potential. While many of the capabilities are already available, the new generation of 5G-enabled wearables may make wearables of yesterday seem like ancient history. It’s important to remember, however, that every step in the evolutionary process is an essential link to where we are in the present and where we can go in the future.

Find out the latest innovation in 5G from Verizon: https://www.verizon.com/business/en-us/solutions/5g/

Related Articles

From healthcare to museums and everything in between, metaverses are popping up all over. The metaverse is here and is taking on many forms enabled by 5G.
The kind of digital worlds that we’ve only seen in sci-fi films or in a VR experience snippet — it’s called the Metaverse