Moving between realities – with augmented reality and virtual reality

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Want to take a quick trip to strange new worlds? There’s nothing easier – with augmented reality (AR), 5G, and Tiana Trumpa, our expert for innovative technologies. 

Tiana Trumpa, expert for innovative technologies.

Tiana Trumpa, our expert for innovative technologies.

Basketball, air hockey, flying a kite – what would you like to do today? With augmented reality and 5G, it’s all just a few movements away: Take out your phone, put on your AR glasses, and off you go. But why are so many people delighted by such technologies? And why does 5G make the corresponding applications a true experience? Together with Tiana Trumpa, responsible for augmented reality at Deutsche Telekom’s Innovation Hub, we will take a look at a fascinating world in which reality and fiction are effortlessly combined.

Tiana, what makes augmented and virtual reality (AR, VR) so exciting? 

The exciting thing about these immersive technologies is that we can create much more intensive digital experiences by stimulating several different senses. The combination of visual 3D experience, spatial audio, and haptic feedback can make the experience surprisingly realistic. 

What's the difference between AR and VR? 

In VR, users can dive fully into a different world. They are completely immersed in a virtual reality. Whether you go to a movie theater with a huge screen, visit an underwater world, take a ride on a roller coaster, or travel to deep space, this full immersion can make you forget that you're still in your own living room.
In contrast, AR, augmented reality, is about enriching and overlaying the real world with virtual objects. The major advantage here is that I can use it anywhere, to obtain additional information, but can continue to see my real environment. 

As I see it, AR will play a larger role for everyday uses. Little by little, 2D applications will become 3D applications. Instead of looking at the 2D screen on my smartphone to send a text, for example, I’ll talk with my friends’ avatars in the future. 3D will create completely new experiences. When I’m on a sightseeing tour, I can project objects from a different area into specific places, or I can create completely new formats for education, for example, teaching physics or math with 3D elements in the room. 

What benefits does 5G add to VR and AR applications?

5G supports applications with extremely low latency: just a few milliseconds. This is an important factor in gaming, for instance. Edge computing also plays a major role here. In this case, the computing power is moved to a cloud – but as close to the user as possible, to keep the distance for the data to travel, and thus the latency, as low as possible. Another advantage of this shift is that the computing power is greater than on the local devices. What’s more, they don't heat up and the battery doesn’t drain as quickly.

With fast response times and edge computing, 5G opens up completely new possibilities for AR and VR applications – especially for multiplayer games. In this domain, for example, different players on different devices can see the same thing in AR, interact with each other in real time, and enjoy a truly fluid gaming experience.

Is a 5G-enabled smartphone a prerequisite for playing Deutsche Telekom’s AR games like air hockey and basketball?

In theory, the games can also be played over LTE – even the multiplayer versions. But you might experience more frequent lags. And because it’s shared AR – that is, an experience shared with other people – it’s no longer synchronized. This means the puck could freeze or disappear for one of the players. With its low latency and edge computing, 5G ensures that pucks and basketballs move smoothly and realistically – ensuring a fantastic gaming experience for all players.

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