New level of Virtual Reality gaming thanks to 5G and edge cloud

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New level of Virtual Reality gaming thanks to 5G and edge cloud

A major innovation from 5G Hub, 5Groningen and The Park Playground is bringing extended reality one step closer

1 November 2021

For the first time in the Netherlands – and without any physical restrictions and in different locations – multiple gamers are playing against each other in Virtual Reality (VR). This has been made possible thanks to a new virtual reality (VR) application developed through edge cloud. This innovation ensures that all the computing power required to use VR in real-time is moved to a remote computer using Vodafone 5G. This combination provides low delay, high bandwidth, and full freedom of movement.

With the assistance of augmented and virtual reality (jointly, extended reality or XR), engineers all over the world are working on solutions to merge the real and virtual worlds and provide connectivity. This involves the interaction between the user and the digital world.

However, there are challenges involved in making this possible, such as the computers required for calculations, the energy consumption of smart glasses, and the speed and stability of networks. New edge cloud innovation, however, is taking an important step towards finding a solution. For example, with complex calculations now taking place remotely rather than in the glasses themselves, it is, over time, making VR and AR glasses better and lighter. An added benefit is the elimination of the need for users to carry around heavy hardware.

Why is this so important?

“We live in a constantly changing world. Just consider the new ways of working these days, with terms such as screen fatigue, travel restrictions and a longing for new experiences. In short, we are ready for connection,” says Bram Tijdhof, Director Regulatory, Policy and Public Affairs at VodafoneZiggo and involved in the 5G Hub. “Not all members of society, such as older adults and those with reduced mobility, can always keep up with these changes. However, we can make the world a little better with new technologies and innovative applications that bring people together and, in doing so, create valuable moments. This last part is something that’s hugely important to us.”

How edge cloud is making a difference

Edge cloud ensures that the process of capturing, processing, and reading back data happens close to where it is used. This reduces delays and allows the virtual world to be experienced without becoming motion sick. Motion sickness occurs when there is even a slight difference in time between what’s happening and what you see.

“This is a big step towards making extended reality accessible to everyone, making it possible to seamlessly blend the real and digital worlds. In gaming and the tech world, we call this the metaverse. That’s why such a virtual experience is ideally suited to sports and entertainment, but also to the new hybrid form of working. We are pleased to say the solution we have tested in our VR experiment already works and brings these promising developments a little closer,” says Omar Niamut, Lead Scientist Social XR at TNO.

Vodafone 5GameClash

This new technology was tested in Vodafone’s “5GameClash” experiment, which involved two teams of five players, led by internet phenoms Milan Knol and Puxque, competing against each other at great distances in the VR game Nanoclash. For the uninitiated, Nanoclash is a shooting game where reaction time and interaction with your team and opponent are crucial, and where split seconds make all the difference between winning and losing.

Underpinning this experiment was 5G technology from the 5G Hub in Eindhoven and 5Groningen. At both locations, 5G VR glasses from The Park Playground were connected to 5G modems, which, in turn, were linked to the network’s 5G antennas using the 3.5GHz frequency band. These antennas subsequently forwarded signals to the two local edge clouds. This is where The Park’s Nanoclash game was running, with the entertainment playground calculating the correct image for each participant in real-time and sending it back to the player using the same route. In addition, the central game controller in the cloud regulated information in relation to score and the exact location of the different participants. This allows players to see each other’s avatar in the virtual world and simultaneously move safely around each other in physical space.

“The Park Playground has set itself the goal of bringing the future of entertainment to the general public. This represents a huge commitment to continuous innovation, so we are proud that, thanks to our development of 5G streaming solutions, we can now bring experiences that are hard to distinguish from reality,” says Philippe de Schutter, CEO of The Park Playground. “The power of the combination between virtual reality and 5G is that young and old alike can experience the impossible without wires or computers. This isn’t just for gamers: this is the future and it’s for everyone.”

This project has been made possible by the 5G Hub (a collective of VodafoneZiggo, Ericsson, High Tech Campus Eindhoven, and Brainport Development) and by 5Groningen partners Economic Board Groningen, TNO, Dell Technologies, VMware, The Park Playground, and VodafoneZiggo.