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Verena Fulde

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Orange and Deutsche Telekom join forces in the field of extended reality (XR)

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Extended reality (XR) is one of the new use cases that exploits the full technological and innovative potential of 5G. In future we will no longer look down on our smartphones but transition into a heads up society.

Man wearing glasses watching tv and also seeing additional content.

Possible thanks to smarte glasses: watch tv and also see additional content.

New technologies offer new possibilites and – as often – to benefit from them as partners. In the past few months, Deutsche Telekom’s tech incubator, hubraum, has teamed up with augmented reality glasses manufacturer Nreal to encourage developers to design the future of XR applications. Telekom hopes that this will result in interesting and relevant applications from the selected start-ups. These should be available as prototypes at the beginning of 2021. If the Nreal glasses are launched on the market, some applications could also be usable for customers.

Now Telekom teams up with Orange to cultivate an ecosystem that encourages synergies.

This partnership aims to bring about the firepower required to meet the many challenges involved head on. In the words of Sean Seaton, Senior Vice President, Group Partnering and Devices at Deutsche Telekom: “We believe that the next decade will see a transition into a heads up society where eventually glasses will be an alternative to smartphones. By closely collaborating with Orange we expect faster developments and broader scope to jointly develop the XR ecosystem while being as efficient as possible. As an Operator with many services we would like to develop the best customer experience. XR with 5G as an enabling technology we believe we could enhance our existing services and delight our customers even with new services.”

Content and services

Together, the two groups intend to explore the nascent XR ecosystem, starting with content development. Morgan Bouchet, Director of Digital Content-Innovation & Head of XR at Orange, explains: “One of the key focuses of this collaboration is content. Both Orange and Deutsche Telekom have been moving forwards with projects to develop platforms that deliver XR/5G, and have been confronted with a common challenge: finding high-quality interactive and immersive content. Supply is still limited in this market, with designs being few, far between and expensive. Together, we are better equipped to compete with larger players, especially the GAFA group, in order to purchase premium content.” The first content deal out of this partnership, with Canadian studio “Felix And Paul”, will provide ‘The ISS experience’ in Europe for the Deutsche Telekom and Orange VR platform.

The second major focus of the partnership is services. The two carriers plan to share their respective progress in user experience, design and technical developments. 

Daniel Aslam from Deutsche Telekom, Global Partnering & XR Business Development Manager and Partnering, states: “Especially in the context of Sports and TV we see huge potential and benefit for our customers. We are exploring XR Immersiv Media use cases where for example the TV interacts with mixed reality glasses and the customer will be able to get additional contextual information virtually to his TV stream. This we will continue in 2021 in a co-development project with Orange."

Mathieu Ducrot, Product Marketing Director, 5G & XR Services at Orange, describes the collaboration as follows: “We have identified the challenges of achieving synergy between our XR exploration projects. Firstly, these concern XR content distribution and aggregation platforms. In addition, XR marks the next step in our digitization process: We want to share our thoughts on the products and services being developed by carriers that take advantage of this new way of interacting. Lastly, the collaboration is a joint effort to identify the future service and growth opportunities being created by XR. By pooling our thoughts and solutions, we will be more efficient.”

Since extended reality is closely linked to the concept of mobility, network assets will become critical in adopting its new uses as they arise, as a result of the progress facilitated by Cloud XR in particular. It was only natural that carriers would encourage this new ecosystem in a direct and coordinated way.

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