July 2016, a first glimpse of “reality” on a device. Pokemon Go. It fascinated the masses, like never before. Niantic, gathered quadrillions of data points and patterns on how people moved, be it on walks, bikes, cars, planes and even boats, and brought a sniff of augmented reality (AR) to the user. It showed us a window to the possibilities ahead of us. And, back then 4G was still not mature. 5G is coming soon.
About 6 month’s ago a friend asked:
“ What is the business case for 5G? Why would or should Operators spend as much money changing networks for downloading movies faster, flying drones? Why is there a need for Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality? People prefer holidays and face-face sessions? “
The covid situation, gave me deeper recognition of the huge gap between what the human mind and body can experience and judge today and all along in history, vs what devices, tools, processes provide for today. Two factors why this huge gap comes about.
- Do things faster, cheaper and better for productivity gains, is one factor. These cannot be humanly possible. 24 hours a day is the only constant. And for this very reason comes the second factor.
- Reality that we seek without having to travel as much, be it holiday, shopping or work. We seek what the human mind and body can experience and judge today, on a digital interface.
Take the current Covid era. A plethora of video calls, be it on Zoom video, House Party, Teams etc., Yet these lack the realism of a face-face meeting. Inability or impracticality for mass clapping, for recognizing visual cues, side chats and many more. As these applications gain speed to bring more “realism”, and I have no doubt they will, the networks need to support the huge volumes of data and transactions. Apply the same case for holidays and having to take days and weeks off, and travel around the world on an airplane, a ship? What if you could fairly experience this in bite sized chunks, from your living room, or a kiosk near home. Telemedicine, Automation, Production are some more examples where benefits come into play. Yet, they all have the same factors – productivity gains vs the reality we experience today.
In the covid era, we’ve learnt to adapt and adopt. Other than the mask, adoption of contact tracing, quarantine tracking and embracing digital technology such as AI have played a big part. On my phone, I check the crowd size at various malls and plan my trip to get essentials. At the store, I scan the QR Code on the contact tracing app. Apple and Google are coming together to embed contact tracing application in their operating systems. The 2 main hospitals in Singapore, NUH and TTSH are using a clinical chat assistant app, provided by Singapore AI start-up Bot MD. Healthcare people get access to clinical information. Several other AI powered apps and tools in use in Singapore. Over 1.5bn students across the globe are learning remotely today. Epidemiologists are networking and using low cost gene sequencing technologies and AI powered platforms, expediting vaccine development.
The silver lining in this pandemic, is the opportunity to experiment with technologies that leads to a sustainable living environment. 3D printed face shields, contactless drone deliveries, remote learning and conferencing, AI infused remote health and medical services. Many CEOs/CIOs have already pledged that upto 50% of their staff will work from home by 2025. The new normalcy is taking shape.
How soon will we embrace technology to build an innovative yet sustainable work life ahead of us? It’s not a question of “if”, but “when”. The business case lies in what the human mind and body experiences today in 3D, 4D and many D’s. Reality, and reality at our convenience, at a time and place we choose. Pokemon Go came out in 2016. 4G has been around. Adoption by the device and application makers is slow.
G is not the problem, it’s the D that’s the end game. Add the R – Reality.
- Tapping AI to battle Covid-19. A good read on various AI applications deployed and developed in Singapore.
- Why coronavirus will accelerate the fourth industrial revolution. Some great study of various references to make the case for technology and advancement of AI.