You’ve heard the drumbeat by now: 5G is coming! However, do you realize how close our 5G future is-- and how 5G will transform practically every aspect of our lives? From the way we work to the way we search to the way we shop, 5G is big news to our contemporary human connectivity.

To explore what the upcoming dawn of 5G means to spatial computing, the WXR Fund partnered with Verizon 5G Labs to host the “Future of XR Content in a 5G World” event in Chelsea, NY. Tickets sold out and it was a standing-room only event; the XR industry and creators are clearly excited about what our (soon-to-be) 5G future holds for virtual reality, mixed reality, and augmented reality (VR / MR / AR).

The future is coming--FAST

The evening kicked off with an introduction to 5G from Christian Guirnalda, Director of Verizon 5G Labs.  Not only will 5G higher speeds and lower latency than ever before, but it will actually use a tenth of the energy of 4G, thereby making it better for the environment.  And it’s going to be rolling out in 30 US cities this year!  

TJ Vitolo, Head of Verizon’s XR Lab, expanded on the 5G story. During his fireside chat with WXR’s very own Abby Albright, he explained how the combination of cloud compute and 5G will turn our phones into a super computers in our pockets.  What’s Verizon’s role in all of this? Vitolo used a gold rush metaphor: “[Verizon] is building the tools, attracting miners to build the ideas and solutions.”

Not only is Verizon building the tools, but they’re providing funding for the best products, services, and applications.  Through the Built on 5G Challenge, Verizon is awarding up to $1M to the best ideas that will “bring the true power of 5G to life.”


5G will change the way we LISTEN

Have you ever wanted to get up close and personal with your favorite musician and join them in the recording studio or rocking out onstage?Jessica Brillhart, founder of VRAI Pictures, is exploring how we’ll interact with 3D sound, and provided live demos of her spatial audio experience Traverse for attendees of the Future of XR Content in a 5G World event .  Listeners were able to walk through a space and hear audio as if they were on stage during a live performance by Elvis, demonstrating the power of sound to transport people to a specific moment.  Brillhart emphasized the importance of approachable hardware, such as the Bose AR Frames, to integrate spatial audio into our everyday lives. As Brillhart said, hardware that “looks normal, is priced reasonably, and can be used for other things,” means that with 5G we can listen anytime, anywhere without disrupting our normal habits and routines.  


5G will change the way we WORK


The future of work is another hot topic, and it’s already apparent that technology is changing or is going to change virtually every profession. That’s why Rosario Ballesteros Casas started VR Americas, an immersive workplace training platform. A rapidly evolving workplace means that continuous learning and re-skilling is imperative, and Casas wants to ensure workers have access to the best content to keep pace with the change.

With the advent of 5G, Casas explained that immersive training content could travel into the field to train workers on the job, making the experience more relevant and immediate. She stressed that, “We want to talk about collaboration. This is not about replacing humans with machines.” Rather, VR Americas wants to augment our capacity as humans with the best technology can offer.  


5G will change the way we SEARCH

All the new access to XR content that 5G will enable begs the question, how are we going to find this content?  Sophia Dominguez of SVRF has the answer.  She and her team are building the first AR/VR search engine.  They’ve already indexed nearly a million pieces of content, and that total is growing by the day.  

SVRF is also creating content with artists like Nicki Minaj and on films like John Wick 3 on platforms like Instagram and Snap to activate fan bases in personal, unique ways. Considering how 5G will accelerate XR content creation and consumption, it’s not hard to see how important a platform like SVRF will become to make sense of the increasingly crowded landscape.


5G will change the way we SHOP

If there ever was a space ripe for disruption, it’s e-commerce. Neha Singh opened her presentation by calling attention to the fact that e-commerce interfaces haven’t changed much in the 25 years since Amazon pioneered the space. That’s a quarter century!  That’s where Singh’s company Obsess comes in: they are building immersive shopping experiences for brands Levi’s, Samsung and Tommy Hilfiger to bring the bland of 2D shopping interfaces that we’ve been stuck with since the late 90s into the future.

Singh was inspired to start Obsess after leading teams at Google and Vogue.  Given that mobile is the primary driver of e-commerce growth and is predicted to account for nearly three quarters of e-commerce sales by 2021, it’s not hard to see why 5G will be important to AR/VR shopping.  Soon instead of just having the ability to purchase items at the click of a button from our phones, we’ll be able to watch 3D fashion shows and explore beautiful immersive stores, all from the device in our pockets.


There’s no question that big changes are coming with 5G, particularly when it comes to XR. The program concluded with some words of wisdom from our featured speakers for those thinking about starting to build for a 5G future.  Their advice essentially boiled down to be resilient, be reactive, and be bold. Or, as Dominguez succinctly summarized in the words of Philip Rosedale: be a cockroach.