Mobile AR Won't Be Truly Amazing Until 5G Happens
We don't know exactly what form 5G cellular technology will take, but it intends to bring faster Wi-Fi-like performance to mobile devices. While that'll provide major advantages to lots of connected technology, PC Magazine notes that it could be what augmented and mixed reality needs to become widely adopted.
The biggest change 5G may bring is in virtual and augmented reality. As phones transform into devices meant to be used with VR headsets, the very low latency and consistent speeds of 5G will give you an Internet-augmented world, if and when you want it. Sprint recently demonstrated streaming wireless VR at the Copa America soccer tournament. The small cell aspects of 5G may also help with in-building coverage, as 5G encourages every home router to become a cell site.
Beyond the smartphone, however, we should see cellular data features implemented in a variety of other technology such as standalone headsets. Currently, the HoloLens is the only major headset that works as a standalone device, but it relies heavily on Wi-Fi networks to define its location and the spaces it maps out. Microsoft will need to look at new mapping options for cellular data.
LAFORGE Optical's Shima only works over Bluetooth, but it'd be trivial for them to swap in an LTE modem for untethered use. That could impact the battery life in a significant way, however, so that may not be worthwhile.
5G wireless may be the answer to a lot of the current issues preventing manufacturers and carriers from bringing cellular data service to more devices. In addition to the many benefits already explained by PC Magazine, both T-Mobile and AT&T have claimed 5G wireless will improve battery life. With smaller towers and better indoor coverage, the HoloLens might be able to map its locations even more accurately with the addition of a GPS radio as well.
We most likely won't see the beginnings of a 5G rollout until 2018, and details are still sparse, but hopefully this will be the moment cellular data truly helps us maintain a connection everywhere we go. While LTE gets the job done, we need an upgrade to catch up with some of the amazing devices currently in production.