It's all green flags for 5G at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

At the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500, 5G is accelerating into reality. But would you want to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with all your windows blacked out?

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How about if you had a 5G-enabled virtual reality (VR) headset and a camera on the roof of your car, transmitting up over 5G to the network and then back over 5G to the VR headset?

It worked for Ericsson engineer Bill Goodman in a recent 5G mobility test with Verizon.  After reaching up to 6Gbps on the downlink in a race car zooming around the track, he was surprised to find the crew blacking out all the windows, while his driver was fitted with the headset.

And off they went.  Check it out here:


How did they pull this off this kind of high speed and low latency?  5G uses advanced radio, antenna and processing technologies, including beamforming and beam tracking. Instead of broadly transmitting information towards a user with a relatively wide antenna pattern typical for cellular coverage, beamforming and beam tracking beam information at a specific user with a much narrower beamformed pattern. This provides greater antenna performance and less radio interference, with rapid beam tracking allowing uninterrupted high throughput connectivity even if the user is moving at over 80 miles per hour.

Beamforming extends the reach of the high frequency bands and allows a user device to be serviced by multiple beams. Beam tracking then monitors the quality of connections available to the device and switches between beams to ensure the best user experience at all times.

“As our vehicles get smarter, our networks also have to get smarter,” says Dan Huffman of Verizon in the video. “We’re doing exactly that.”

In Indianapolis, we had over 180 beams tracking to keep the connection strong to the radio in the car. This is not easy stuff.

How 5G will change the race experience

The biggest transformation will be for the millions of fans who watch races in person or on television.  With future 5G systems in place, cameras and sensors on the cars and track will enable fans, wherever they are; at home, at the park or at the track itself, to experience the race from different vantage points. Image viewing from the pole position as the race is in progress, turning around to see the cars in chase because a 360-degree video is streaming from every car.  Then imagine you can switch to a track side camera at turn 4, or one at the top of the Pagoda, or to a fan in the Snakepit using a portable camera to stream the party going on there.  Or imagine when the sunglasses you are wearing can display the stats you care about overlaid on the action in front of you.  Watch your favorite driver coming around turn 4 and in real time, see speed, rpm, tire pressure and the rest of the critical information that makes the race interesting.  And the best part is, it’s all personalized to you, with the drivers and data that you want to see.

Fans will be able to stream their own views too, as well as add even faster commentary than today.  This can all flow into the TV coverage, allowing for more insightful commentary and higher quality, more up-to-date graphics.

Thanks to the low latency and extreme bandwidth of 5G, these new experiences will be possible. Not just 360 video and 4K quality, but new formats and devices not invented yet.

5G will transform AR and VR

To give people a taste of this future, we will have a 360 degree camera at the track during race week transmitting to VR headsets in a nearby home so members of the media can get the sense of being there via 5G.

 

We showed something similar at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year, in conjunction with Intel.  We transmitted to our booth live action VR video of former NBA players dunking basketballs – all over pre-standard 5G technology.

But our groundbreaking work with Verizon is all just a start.  Within the next five years, we will be bringing consumers new augmented and virtual reality experiences on devices that don’t even exist yet.  And that’s reason to dream, even if I don’t dream of driving a race car with the windows blacked out!


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