Explaining 5G to kids: what's puffering?

There's a reason they say never to work with kids or animals. But could we explain 5G to kids and make them experts? We gave it a try--see how it went!

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It was just one crazy idea at first that we had while chatting about all the different kinds of 5’s there are in the world (five senses, five fingers, five food groups, etc) and we came across the most tricky 5’s of all: 5 year olds. Thus, the challenge was born: could we explain 5G to 5-year olds? Well, let’s just say that there’s a reason they say to never work with children or animals…

Our first challenge was finding a group of 5 year olds who were game. In the end, we found four great kids, and none of them were 5—the youngest, Siofra, had just turned 6 that week and Oskar was 9.  Though they were a bit older, the kids, all children of international Ericsson employees based in Sweden who spoke English,  we decided to meet up in a room, put up a camera or two and see what happened.

The kids were excited to be there

The biggest challenge fell to our superstar Mats, who works as Business Builder in the Ericsson Studio and was given the task of explaining 5G to kids when, honestly, it can be hard enough to explain it to adults.

We actually learned a lot!

One thing you might notice is that there was a LOT of talk about speed. That was something I realized afterwards: for newbies like kids, the speed of 5G was the easiest thing to understand. No matter their age, all kids these days have experienced buffering (though maybe not all of them was familiar with the term).

What we didn’t manage to get the kids super excited about was the  low latency of 5G. We’re talking about going from 20 milliseconds to 5 milliseconds—a difference of 15 milliseconds, or the length of time it takes a humming bird to beat its wings. The difference might not seem large, but in many forms of gaming, competitive and non, you would notice. Every aspect of life has its own built-in latency timing. Taking gaming for example: It takes at least 20 milliseconds before your brain registers something you’re seeing on the screen, and more to understand and decide on how to react. Then it’s more delay before your brain translates into action, and more delay before that action is shown on screen, and so on.

So is 15 milliseconds a long time? Not by itself. But the pileup paradox means it’s 15 on top of how many other activities going on between you and your opponent before your actions actually happen.

Another thing we just got to hint at was the powerful and innovative 5G use cases that are just waiting around the corner.  We asked the kids what they would love to see in the future, and I was a bit surprised by the answers:

Okay, so making trees talk is not really within the grasps of 5G…but self-driving vehicles, smart manufacturing and sustainable cities are.

All in all, I’d have to say it was one of the most silly, inspiring and unusual days I’ve had at work. I would love to see if everyone went out and tried to explain tech to their kids—or even better, have their kids explain tech to them! If you do, be sure to share it with us on social.

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