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Better World Summit 2021 Showcased the Best of AR and 5G

by Nitesh Patel | Jun 21, 2021

Strategy Analytics attended Huawei’s BWS event on June 17. The event was designed to showcase how rapidly maturing 5G networks are integrating innovative AR technology to enrich the user experience.

I have to say I think the event did a fantastic job of this – AR is a really visual technology and it can be a challenge to simply talk about it; words are just not enough. The event had plenty of live demos and seamlessly integrated AR visuals across all the presentations. “Practice what you preach” is a common mantra, and this event had Huawei doing just that, and to great effect. It made this one of the most exciting and visually stunning online conferences I have attended since that has become the new normal of the pandemic. I was entertained and informed by AR which really enhanced the content. If you didn’t watch the event live, you can see the replay here.

There were a range of speakers from across the AR ecosystem. Content, hardware, and infrastructure were all represented, alongside Huawei itself discussing the networks side of things.

Presentation highlights:

  • He Chengjian, Director of Shenzhen Communication Management Bureau
    • This presentation showcased how the advanced 5G network in Shenzhen has provided the building blocks to become an innovative testbed for over 100 new AR applications. Shenzhen already has a very dense 5G network, with 46.5k 5G hubs. As well as the advanced infrastructure, success has been achieved by providing a cloud service model to different players across the ecosystem, including academia and different verticals across the private sector, including healthcare, education, tourism and smart ports.
  • David MacQueen, Executive Director of Strategy Analytics
    • Strategy Analytics provided its market data and forecasts to set the scene for the AR market today, and how it is expected to evolve. We anticipate a market of 53m AR headsets shipments in 2026, leading to an installed base of over 91m consumers who will need to be supported by a good quality 5G network. LG U+ provided an innovative case study of how carriers can benefit from this. Driving this market uptake is a shift from standalone, high end but expensive headsets costing $3,500 today, to a more consumer-friendly market of smartphone-tethered devices at a price point closer to $600. The subsequent presentation by Realmax showcased such a device.
  • Huang He, Chief Producer of Shenzhen TV Station
    • From the content side of the industry, this presentation really showcased how AR is becoming transformative in TV production with a range of innovative case studies. These included:
    • “Super Launch” launching new products in a travel-limited world. The launch of the Audi A4L provided one example of the many events (the company is running an average of 2 super launches a month now), where the Chinese launch was also attended virtually with holograms of speakers from Germany and the USA.
    • For the next example, Mr. He was joined on stage by Liya, the virtual host of the “Friend of Time” annual event, who exists only holographically.Liya
    • At the Spring Festival event, a 10-hour broadcasting special shown on the Lunar New Year, AR was used heavily over the entire 10 hours to provide dynamic and innovative sets for the 50+ guests. Similarly, in the “Dance in Step” dancing show, AR is also used to provide the sets for performers. This allows the stage to be changed instantly, without breaks in filming to reset. Many fantastic examples were shown, with digital sets able to include effects that conventional staging wouldn’t allow, such as helicopters flying overhead (which also formed part of the presentation at the BWS event).
    • For an upcoming show, the remote but spectacular Mogao Caves have been captured digitally, which will allow more people to enjoy the tourist destination in AR.
  • Wei Rongjie, Realmax CEORealMax Glasses
    • Realmax focused on how much the human brain relies on visual information, and how the wide 70o FoV (field of view) of its next generation RealMax AR device provides a level of immersion which feels much more natural to the user. In order to deliver these graphics in a thin (7mm) and light design, 5G cloud processing is used to render to graphics. The ultra-slim design (almost like a normal pair of glasses) can be tethered via USB to a 5G smartphone to provide the 5G connectivity.
  • Hiroshi Fukuda, meleap CEO and Liang Jinhao, Representative of HADO China RegionHADO Game
    • Meleap demonstrated its innovative Hado AR app, the next generation of eSports (or “technosport”). In a new gaming experience made possible only by AR, the physical and virtual worlds combine in a dynamic way, allowing players to throw energy balls at each other, or erect shields. Very cool. 5G enables the ultra-low latency for a good gaming experience.
  • Fu Jie, Executive Director of Shenzhen AR Association
    • The Shenzhen AR Association discussed the evolution of the AR market so far, and how the early hype has now been replaced by solid market growth. They see 3 key market growth drivers; content, technology (particularly lens technology and audio controls), and the networks. Mr Fu gave a number of examples of innovative AR applications, many of which can be found in the white paper, such as AR gaming and AR shopping.
  • Bob Cai, CMO of Huawei Carrier BG
    • “Practice what you preach” was once again a phrase that springs to mind, with Huawei showing some examples of how it was using AR itself. These included using AR to meet clients when international travel is restricted, and to assist its engineers when installing 5G base stations. Undoubtedly Huawei is using technology built on its own AR Engine. A new feature of this platform was also demonstrated – Air Photo – which uses the 2D phone camera to create digital 3D models.
    • Mr Cai closed the event and launched the AR Insight and Application white paper, which is available for download here, or in Chinese here.

Overall, the event did a great job of demonstrating how 5G and AR can combine to create novel experiences that can provide value to consumers. With players from across the ecosystem giving many real-world examples, enhanced by slick integration of AR demos with the presentations, the event really gave attendees a flavour of the innovation surrounding AR. This ecosystem approach is key to Huawei’s philosophy when approaching the AR market, which they summed up as “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together”.

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