The GSMA has created a new forum aimed at accelerating the development of 5G-based virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications.
Alex Sinclair, CTO of the GSMA, said that mobile operators will play a key role in the development of AR and VR but that collaboration is necessary or the market will become fragmented. “The establishment of this forum will overcome this hurdle and ensure we can scale compelling solutions faster,” he said in a statement.
The new forum encourages knowledge sharing between members. And it is focused on resolving some technical challenges such as looking at ultra-low latency codec compression, graphics processing unit (GPU) rendering in the cloud, and other virtualization technologies. The goal is to develop a reference architecture that will make it easier to deploy AR and VR and to make AR/VR applications.
The forum noted that AR/VR headsets require a lot of storage and processing power, similar to a gaming device. But it also makes these devices more expensive for consumers. The idea is to move a lot of that processing power and storage to the edge cloud, making the devices less expensive to produce. This scenario fits well with 5G because 5G’s new capabilities make an edge cloud possible.
Operators involved in the GSMA’s Cloud AR/VR Forum include China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, KT, NTT Docomo, SK Telecom, Telefonica, Telenor, TIM, Turkcell, and Vodafone. The group made its debut at Huawei’s Mobile Broadband Forum in London this week, and Huawei is a key vendor member as is HTC.
Interestingly, there are currently no U.S. operators involved in the group, which is notable because AT&T has been on the forefront of the AR trend. In July the operator announced it formed an exclusive partnership with Magic Leap, a startup that is making AR products including a headset. AT&T said it had invested an undisclosed amount in the tech company. In addition, AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan is a member of Magic Leap’s board.
Huawei has been at odds with the U.S. government over the past year, and U.S. legislators have introduced bills in both the House and Senate that prevent the government from buying or using telecommunications equipment from Huawei or ZTE. In addition FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposed a ban on the use of money from the FCC’s $8.5 billion Universal Service Fund to purchase equipment or services “from companies that pose a national security threat to United States communications networks.”