Not just speed: 7 incredible things you can do with 5G

You can’t walk around Mobile World Congress  without 5G slapping you in the face. If there’s a phenomenon that’s dominated this week’s trade show besides the return of a 17-year-old phone, it’s the reality that the next generation of cellular technology has arrived. Well, at least it’s real in the confines of the Fira Gran Via convention center in Barcelona.

Above the Qualcomm booth flashed the slogan: “5G: From the company that brought you 3G and 4G.” If you took a few more steps, you could hear an Intel representative shout about the benefits of 5G. If you hopped over to Ericsson, you’d find a “5G avenue” with multiple exhibits demonstrating the benefits of the technology. Samsung kicked off its press conference not with its new tablets, but with a chat about 5G.

Remote surgery via a special glove, virtual reality and 5G

(click on the image to enjoy the video)

The hype around 5G has been brewing for more than a year, but we’re finally starting to see the early research and development bear fruit. The technology promises to change our lives by connecting everything around us to a network that is 100 times faster than our cellular connection and 10 times faster than our speediest home broadband service.

But it’s not just about speed for speed’s sake. While the move from 3G to 4G LTE was about faster connections, the evolution to 5G is so much more. The combination of speed, responsiveness and reach could unlock the full capabilities of other hot trends in technology, offering a boost to self-driving cars, drones, virtual reality and the internet of things. “If you just think of speed, you don’t see the magic of all it can do,” said Jefferson Wang, who follows the mobile industry for IBB Consulting.

The bad news: 5G is still a while away for consumers, and the industry is still fighting over the nitty-gritty details of the technology itself. The good news: There’s a chance it’s coming sooner than we thought. It’s clear why the wireless carriers are eager to move to 5G. With the core phone business slowing down, companies are eager for new tech to spark excitement and connect more devices. “We are absolutely convinced that 5G is the next revolution,” Tim Baxter, president of Samsung’s US unit, said during a press conference.


Electric Flying City Taxi

German company Lilium beats Google and Uber to successfully test a VTOL jet that could be used as a city taxi. Munich-based Lilium, backed by investors who include Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström, said the planned five-seater jet, which will be capable of vertical take-off and landing, (VTOL) could be used for urban air-taxi and ride-sharing services.


Lilium said its jet, with a range of 190 miles and cruising speed of 186mph, is the only electric aircraft capable of both vertical take-off and jet-powered flight. The jet, whose power consumption is comparable to an electric car, could offer passenger flights at prices comparable to normal taxis but with speeds five times faster.

In flight tests, a two-seat prototype executed manoeuvres that included a mid-air transition from hover mode – like a drone – to wing-borne flight – like a conventional aircraft, Lilium said.
Potential competitors to Lilium Jet include much bigger players such as Airbus, the maker of commercial airliners and helicopters that aims to test a prototype self-piloted, single-seat “flying car” later in 2017. The Slovakian firm AeroMobil said at a car show in Monaco it would start taking orders for a hybrid flying car that can drive on roads. It said it planned production from 2020. But makers of “flying cars” still face hurdles, including convincing regulators and the public that their products can be used safely. Governments are still grappling with regulations for drones and driverless cars.


How Drones Tag and Track Target

Voxtel, an US firm located in Beaverton, Oregon, is developing for the US Air Force a drone-based tagging system, based on quantum dots technology. Voxtel makes tagging materials, called taggants, that can be used to discreetly label vehicles carrying terrorists, or people who are involved in civil disobedience or attempting to cross international borders illegally. Suspects or cars, could be tagged by a tiny drone with a spray that gives a distinct spectral signature, easy to track.

Quantum dots are semiconductor nanocrystals less than 50 atoms across. Because of quantum effects, they absorb and emit light at specific wavelengths.

The company has demonstrated a taggant powder that, when illuminated with an invisible ultraviolet laser, can be detected by infrared cameras 2 kilometres away. The powder is delivered as an aerosol that clings to metal, glass and cloth, and batches can be engineered to have distinct spectral signatures.
Voxtel will deliver the drones very soon to the US Air Force, according to John Kerry, current United States Secretary of State.