Ultra-fast 5G networks are rolling out around the world, and as well as faster communication it will bring new and richer experiences for us all. But how will it impact event technology?
5G delivers data at speeds that will eventually reach 1000 times that of 4G and existing Wi-Fi networks. But it would be a mistake to think that this should mean “more of the same, but faster”. Instead, event organisers and managers should think about entirely new data streams, including streaming VR, sophisticated gamification and taking a more personalised, real-time approach to curating content for online audiences.
Some of the most advanced event technology we’ve seen, such as facial recognition and real-time attendee tracking utilise sophisticated machine learning algorithms on the backend, making them data-hungry and reliant on a rock-solid connection. We’ve probably all been at events where technology set up to wow visitors has ended up as something of a damp squib, due to unreliable or patchy network reception (for an infamous example, consider the Mercedes Last Fan Standing 2018 Super Bowl incident). The adoption of 5G will hopefully make this a less frequent occurrence as steady, reliable wireless networks, wherever you happen to be, become an expectation, rather than a nice-to-have.
Due to the changed nature of the world we currently live in, virtual and hybrid events are an increasingly popular choice for organisers wanting to ensure they can reach as big an audience as possible. 5G means better streaming performance for your remote audience, and the potential for smarter, more engaging connections to be built between virtual and real-world attendees.
It also means that safety measures for those that are attending in person can be more robust. Today, events are deploying technology involving beacons and RFID tagging to ensure social distancing isn’t an issue, and choke points aren’t developing in public spaces, causing situations that could pose a health risk. 5G networks, which are able to connect to and track many more devices simultaneously than earlier network, will enhance these capabilities and create safer events.
One hugely exciting possibility is the development of streaming virtual reality (VR) capabilities. VR has enormous potential, for both live and virtual events, but the size, cost and unwieldiness of current headsets is often a barrier to entry. Just as 4G and contemporary broadband wireless networks brought about the era of Netflix and streaming video, 5G could potentially usher in the era of cloud VR, meaning headsets could be far lighter, less delicate and less costly. With all the compute power and number-crunching carried out in the cloud, thin client headsets consisting of nothing more than screens and a radio device could see us finally unlocking the potential of experiential VR for events.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a big buzzword in events, with networks of connected devices enabling more engagement at booths and better connected “smart venues”. Automated assistance will be more readily available, either through event apps or dedicated terminals.
And on an individual visitor level attendees can expect better experience and performance from their event apps. With 5G networks able to maintain more simultaneous connections, there will be less instances of connections becoming unavailable at large events simply because the network is swamped. Organisers and exhibitors will be more confident that their push notifications or targeted marketing is being efficiently delivered and this should lead to better hit rates for this type of technology.
5G promises to be a game-changer in many areas of society and events are certainly not exempt from this. For organisers, planners and managers, the key takeaway is that it will lift restrictions on what’s possible in a live environment due to current network limitations, allowing us to come up with new ways to engage and interact with our guests and visitors.
Buzznation is your end-to-end event technology and event management partner. Contact us today to discuss how we can help with your event.