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EDITORIAL How 5G holds the key to the future of interaction

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One of the much-touted advantages of 5G is that it is set to enable some really powerful mobile services such as augmented realty, virtual reality overlays and even the metaverse to become mainstream.

The ability to over super-fast over the air broadband to a range of devices – potentially between any point anywhere round the world – is indeed a step change in mobile tech.

And it will change how everyone, everywhere uses pretty much any digital device. It will also change radically how we access the internet and how we live.

Seriously. 5G is the key to the metaverse becoming ubiquitous and the way we get online.

And that has far-reaching consequences for everything that telemedia does. The metaverse is not only a place to play games, it is the very essence of how to interact digitally with everything – as we shall see.

First, the baby steps that are being taken with 5G to make this virtual world a reality. In Barcelona, 5G is being used to create a virtual-augmented reality shopping service that sees shoppers at home don a headset and shop a fresh fruit market via a remote personal shopper using a mobile.

Inspired by lockdown, but now a reality for ecommerce, the trial allows real world shopping in a market to be done online. It involves technology, it involved real people in real markets and showcases just how digital can become an integral part of real life rather than a replacement for it.

The trial is all done using 5G and shows just what we can all expect, not least of the metaverse. The metaverse would seem to be a place that replaces real life by replocating it in digital form. But it is more than that. Right now it is just a novelty, but with time it will become a way to experience the real world, from afar, and to interact and engage with content, people and even companies in ways that we can only imagine.

The Barcelona trial shows that there is a world where we can link real people shopping with people remotely interacting with them. This could be the basis of how life becomes a mash up of real and virtual and that is what the metaverse will be, I believe.

Imagine wanting to interact with a brand and doing it remotely but with a real person who is also remote all in a virtual but realistic setting? Think of the possibilities for what messaging and engagement and social media, commerce and more can become?

It isn’t that far-fetched. Already UK consumers surveyed this month have said that they expect to be using the metaverse within 15 years and that it won’t be for gaming, it will be for everything.

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