For now, 5G's benefits start with the phone. When it eventually replaces 4G, 5G data transfer will be between 10 and 100 times faster than today's networks. Right now, though, 5G is in its infancy. Here are six hard truths we learned so far.
Augmented reality games like Pokemon Go and Harry Potter: Wizard's Unite rely on your phone's data connection to create virtual elements in the world around you. A faster connection could make objects richer and more immersive, and expand well beyond games.
This 5G demo of the Galaxy S10 5G phone lets you zoom in on a live-streamed baseball game to see players up-close. You can also twist your fingers to rotate the players and watch them from every angle while they throw, catch and run.
Translations, like through Google Translate, take a lot of AI work, and, if you're translating on the fly, a lot of data. 5G holds the power to translate large amounts of text or speech quickly and flawlessly, even more so than with 4G today.
5G's faster data speeds can potentially help first responders save more lives. By relying on the powerful new networks to control its dispatch system, responders like the London Air Ambulance pictured here can cut down their response time, and send help faster.
Self-driving cars already sound futuristic, but as they develop alongside 5G, they'll be able to use sensors to tap into the network and instantly communicate with other vehicles on the road, avoiding collisions by knowing where every car is.
Data is at the heart of smart cities, which use vast quantities of it to help manage the city better. 5G is pegged to power the network infrastructure of smart cities in the 2020s, everything from the electrical grid to water supply. Here's more on how 5G can impact smart cities.
5G could support health care in numerous ways, but remote surgery is the most exciting. A form of robotic surgery, the surgeon controls surgical robots in a facility miles away to conduct a procedure. Advanced imaging guides the surgeon. Supported by a 5G network, this type of surgery could help specialists attend to more patients in critical conditions throughout the world.
Published:Caption:Jessica DolcourtPhoto:Photofusion/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
A combination of sensors and drones could help farmers maintain ideal conditions for growing and raising food. For example, connected collars can help monitor an animal's real-time health. Drones can transmit photos from the field. Sensors can tell automated systems to adjust the water temperature and salt content of fish farms.
Sensors are also the key ingredient in 5G-connected factory equipment that can automatically upload information about productivity, and alert workers if machines malfunction, making the entire operation more efficient.
What's undeniable is that 5G holds a lot of potential to improve everything around you, from your phone to health care, farming, and smart cities. As wonderful as it sounds, 5G isn't a slam dunk yet -- challenges may well lay ahead as these networks develop.