If there was any good to come out of the COVID-10 pandemic, it was the light-bulb realization that 5G technology will stand to revolutionalize the way we work, play, socialize, and even learn.
Here is what you need to know about the latest and greatest version of the internet and how it will cause a huge and much-needed paradigm shift in the education sector.
Enhanced In-Class Learning
With ever-growing expectations for both students and educators, teachers are always looking for ways to maximize learning time. And while the typical 4G-operated school has enough connective strength to satisfy basic online functions and provide a fair share of digital applications throughout the school day, so much time is lost to poor wireless access. Fortunately, a 5G connection moves 100 times faster, a performance that permanently removes latency and makes buffering a bother of the past. This means faster download times and fewer classroom malfunctions all around.
Greater Developments in Virtual and Augmented Reality
It was once widely assumed that the classroom experience could never be replaced by virtual means. That was until 5G-powered VI and AI advancements began to make their mark and relieve many of the educational burdens that hinder the learning experience. One of the main differences that make these innovations superior to the ones fueled by 4G connections is the overall seamless application that removes lagging and extended loading times, ultimately creating a more realistic feel. Also, with greater connective strength to work with, more effective, engaging, and powerful applications can be brought to life.
With the use of virtual and augmented reality, educators can provide both hands-on and in-depth training that can effectively train mechanics, doctors, and especially college and school-aged students. For example, Froggipedia is an AR app developed to make biology class a lot easier and more interactive by walking students through a virtual frog dissection. While being guided through a detailed segment broken down into level-friendly segments, students will remain engaged as they learn about the frog’s internal organs, how those organs function, and how they develop from a mere egg to adulthood.
Massive Gains in Rural Areas
It is no secret that education is inaccessible in many areas of the world. In fact, this massive divide has created a huge gap in educational value in rural areas versus their urban and suburban counterparts. The convenience and affordability of 5G connection provide lasting solutions to equal out learning opportunities for those who have been left behind due to poverty and travel difficulties.
The growing teacher shortage in rural areas is a key thing to look at when it comes to the lack of quality education. With limited instructional hands on deck, these populations are in desperate need of resources to fill the gap and remain up to speed with the more advanced parts of the world. Not to fret, though, as 5G the network has answers for that issue as well. With a greater connection and a stronger reach outward, teachers can reach out to other educators when they require resources or a helping hand.
Also, hybrid learning has been and will continue to be monumental in the gap-solving process. Hybrid, or “blended” learning allows students to learn from a distance in a way that mimics an in-class experience. This style of learning makes it possible for impoverished students to stay educated despite any travel barriers that might keep them from being able to attend in-person courses.
Education From Anywhere
In today’s busy world, having the option to learn on the go is less of a luxury and more of a necessity. This is another invaluable benefit of the worldwide adoption of 5G as time has shown that personal hotspots and public Wifi connections often fall short when it truly counts.
Technology will continue to take off, making way for the next breed of learners, trailblazers, and educational innovators. It’s officially time to gear up for the inevitable 5G future.
As the long, laborious rollout of 5G continues across the U.S., business leaders are contemplating what that might mean. And the expectation is that it will have wide-ranging implications across all sectors. Manufacturing, enabled by all manner of Internet of Things gadgetry, will become more efficient. Healthcare will become more accessible. Operations will improve, no matter the field; waste will be minimized and stakeholders of every stripe will benefit.
Feel free to wonder when it will be widely available. While Verizon continues to lead the other major carriers – AT&T and T-Mobile/Sprint – in the rollout race, Statista reported in mid-November 2022 that 5G was available in 296 U.S. cities, second-most in the world to China (356). But the expectation is that there will be 70 billion connected devices in the world by 2025, many of them powering businesses as they hurtle toward what has been called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0.
Fortune Business Insights projects that the global industry 4.0 market, valued at $101.69 billion in 2020, will mushroom to $337.1 billion by 2028. Information Age reporter Andrew Ross wrote in July 2022 that much of that growth will be due to smart manufacturing, and notes that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines that as “fully-integrated, collaborative manufacturing systems that respond in real time to meet changing demands and conditions in the factory, in the supply network, and in customer needs.”
Further, Ross wrote that 5G will have a “unique” impact on industry, as it will “enable new operating models” and afford companies the opportunity to “build smart factories that can take advantage of the emerging tech that’s changing the industry.”
Andreas Muller, head of communication and network technology in the corporate sector for research and advance engineering at the German multinational engineering and technology company Robert Bosch GmbH, dug down even further in a piece on that firm’s website. He pointed out that 5G’s speed (20 times faster than 4G), low latency (one millisecond) and reliability (99.999 percent) open up all sorts of possibilities.
One aspect he emphasized was the ability of 5G to streamline production through the use of mobile operating panels and data glasses, and how autonomous vehicles could help resolve supply chain issues.
It is likely that healthcare will be impacted more dramatically than any other sector by 5G’s emergence – and not a moment too soon, given population growth and a looming physician shortage. We already saw during the height of the pandemic how much of a difference technology can make in this space, as telehealth assumed a key role (and will continue to have one, given the fact that 40 percent of those responding to a 2021 McKinsey poll indicated they will still use it.)
The implementation of 5G in healthcare will, according to a recent Business Insider piece, enable clinicians to better manage their time while reducing the waste of supplies (especially of critical medications) and equipment. And that will, in turn, lead to better care and better outcomes.
An example offered in the BI piece was that of a hospital in London that makes use of smart devices and monitoring systems, as well as AR/VR headsets that enable clinicians to collaborate more effectively on particularly challenging cases. In addition, AI-powered heat mapping allows patients to be tracked as they move about the facility.
The conclusion that can be drawn, then, is that while 5G penetration will help all of us as we go about our daily lives, its impact will be much more far-reaching. It will change lives. It might even save some. The possibilities are almost limitless.
These days, it’s all about the steps – about counting how many one has taken in any given day, via one device or another. Have I reached the exalted threshold of 10,000? Or must I get myself off the couch and trudge around the block? More to the point, have I gone far enough to justify seconds on dessert?
All pertinent questions, and all questions many of us are asking ourselves, now that the wearables have become all the rage. Whether it’s a FitBit or smart watch or some other gadget, some 57 million Americans have taken to wearing devices that track not only their exercise rate but also their vital signs, sleep patterns or caloric intake. It is estimated that the wearable market is currently an industry worth between $25 billion and $33 billion annually, and one that will soar past $63 billion by 2027.
Such is Americans’ obsession with wearables, in fact, that some experts worry that it could lead to mental-health issues – that folks will equate their step count to their self-worth. But in a society that has grown too sedentary, too obese and too prone to chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes, every step (whether literal or figurative) would appear to be a positive one.
As Johns Hopkins Medicine cardiologist Seth Martin said on that organization’s website:
“Fitness trackers are a great tool for heart health. Being more active and changing your habits is important, but it can be difficult. Tracking likely helps a lot of people when combined with a clear goal to shoot for.”
Given the popularity of such gadgetry, it should come as no surprise that innovation in the field is ongoing; everybody, it seems, wants to be on the cutting edge. Nor should it be a surprise that 3D printing is playing an increased role in this sector.
Consider the development in 2011 by a team from the University of Arizona’s School of Engineering of a health monitor that never needs to be recharged. This device, labeled “a completely new concept” by Arizona professor Philipp Gutruf, features 3D-printed mesh that can be fitted to different body parts, and which requires no adhesives. Moreover, it is embedded with miniature sensors that enable it to track different biometrics, and draws its power from radio signals – known as “far-field” energy harnessing, according to a UA news release.
Also notable were the developments at two Korean universities of biosensors that use 3D-printed frameworks – one made of a polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF)/barium titanate (BTO) composite, the other of a sugar scaffold (eventually dissolved) which was injected with a silicone elastomer filler. The first of these sensors was piezoelectric, meaning that it draws its energy from applied stress. One example was when it was fitted into a taekwondo belt, which is constantly subjected to the blows of the competitors in that martial art.
Certainly 3D printers come into play in other aspects of sports, as when it is used to customize equipment that protects athletes from injury and leads to improved performance. Moreover, it has been found that such items reduce the industry’s carbon footprint and enable increased participation by disabled competitors.
But the greatest impact of all is in the day-to-day use of fitness trackers. Everyone seems to have one, and everyone stands to benefit. And those produced by 3D printers seem to have as much promise as any given their durability, flexibility and user friendliness.
The 5G rollout is ongoing, but the full implications of that are not yet clear. While experts believe it will hasten the fourth Industrial Revolution, as well as the widespread use of autonomous vehicles and the emergence of smart cities, those developments are still to come.
The more immediate impact will be felt on our smartphones, and to that end several 5G phones have been produced in recent years, and, which is more, they are coming down in price, owing to the fact that semiconductors have grown less expensive than in the recent past. 5G’s speed – it is up to 100 times faster than 4G – will in time combine with its reduced latency to make for better gaming, an enhanced video experience and more innovative apps.
Other 5G consumer devices that have begun to emerge are wireless routers, notably those produced by Samsung in collaboration with Verizon Communications. They will make it possible to have a broadband connection in one’s home, and accelerate the trend toward cord-cutting.
Also increasingly available are 5G laptops, like the ones developed by Lenovo and Samsung.
Further developments no doubt lie ahead, as 5G coverage improves. While the three major U.S. wireless providers – AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile – all claim they provide nationwide coverage, the truth is somewhat more nuanced.
As of December 2021, 49.2 percent of Americans with 5G devices were connected to the network most of the time, according to analysis by the network testing company Ookla. That’s the best percentage in the world, ahead of The Netherlands (45.1) and South Korea (43.8).
Ookla concluded, however, that in terms of speed the U.S. lagged behind 10 other nations that were early adopters of 5G, at 93.73 megabits per second (mbps). The leaders in that category were South Korea (492), Norway (427) and the United Arab Emirates (410).
The conclusion that can be reached, then, is that not all 5G is created equal – that while T-Mobile continues to provide greater coverage than that of its two rivals, closer examination is required.
As noted on the website CNet.com, there are different versions of 5G – millimeter-wave (mmWave), which offers greater speed but less reliable coverage than other types; low band, which is slower but more reliable; and midband (C-Band), which is faster than low band but more reliable than mmWave.
To date T-Mobile covers 41 percent of the U.S., while AT&T covers 18 percent and Verizon 11 percent. T-Mobile’s coverage is largely of the midband variety, while the other two companies offer low band, with promises of upgrades to midband this year, after investing some $68.8 billion in it during the FCC’s auction in late 2021.
As 5G continues to evolve in the U.S., so too will the consumer market. More devices will be developed, devices that will, for example, allow people to more fully explore things like augmented reality, virtual reality and 3D video experiences. In short, 5G looms as a game-changer, but we’re still in the very early stages of the game. Things have yet to play out fully.
Picture a world in which your car’s speedometer appears not on the dashboard, but rather on the inside of the windshield. A world in which smart windows adjust their transparency according to the environment. A world in which advanced wearables measure not just data like body temperature and pulse rate but also hormone levels.
That’s the world we are fast approaching, given developments in the field of transparent electronics.
A research team from Australia’s Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) issued a report in April 2021 about a breakthrough in the two-dimensional semiconductor space, and that is expected to make all of this possible, as well as things like transparent solar panels and optical coatings. (An aside about the latter: The hope is that whatever eyewear comes of this, it advances beyond the Google Glass, which created a buzz in the early 2010s but was phased out just a few years later, largely because of privacy concerns.)
Certainly the potential of transparent electronics has attracted the attention of the tech giants, as well as investors. Samsung, Apple, 3M and Cambrios Technology are among those making inroads in the field, and the market for these devices, which stood at a shade over $996 million in 2019, is expected to balloon to $3.8 billion by 2025. That’s an impressive compound annual growth rate of 25 percent, and it’s not expected to slow anytime soon. By 2041, in fact, the market is expected to reach $20 billion.
The RMIT team developed ultrathin beta-tellurite, a high-mobility p-type oxide that according to team leader Dr. Torben Daeneke “fills a crucial gap in the materials spectrum to enable fast, transparent circuits.”
As explained in the report, p-type semiconducting materials are characterized by positively charged electrons, n-type materials by those that are negatively charged, and stacking them atop one another allows electronic devices to function. The issue, however, is that researchers have not been able to find many p-type oxides over the years.
Daeneke’s team built on previous research showing that tellurium could behave as both a metal and non-metal. They were able to synthesize beta-tellurite, then spread a molten layer — one that was just 1.5 nanometers thick — over a surface. Testing showed that it was anywhere between 10 and 100 times faster than any p-type semiconductors that had been previously developed.
The RMIT team built in part upon the work of a team at Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, which in 2018 developed nanowires so thin that they were transparent. Atif Shamim, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and Principal Investigator of the Integrated Microwave Packaging Antennas and Circuits Technology (IMPACT) lab, told the website Phys.org that the idea came to him when he saw his newborn son in an incubator within a maternity ward: How can infants be protected from radiation in such a room, the elder Shamim wondered, while still being visible to their loved ones?
His team’s work revealed a potential answer to that question, and now the RMIT team has gone one step further. So too has the technology as a whole.