BT and Belfast Harbour Test 5G and AR

Virtual reality in a workspace with virtual panels

BT, Belfast Harbour and mixed reality partners Ubimax and VRtuoso have launched an initiative to demonstrate the tangible benefits of 5G.

To do so, the parties demonstrated two applications that Belfast Harbour is currently exploring as part of its Smart Port vision.

The first showed a member of Belfast Harbour’s operations team wearing an augmented reality headset connected to a 5G device whilst inspecting a crane and receiving step-by-step maintenance guidance and remote support via an application server in the cloud.

5G provides the ultrafast speeds and reliability needed, while augmented reality specialists provided the software for the headsets. These devices can easily be worn by any operational staff working out in the port.

In a statement, the parties said the demonstration showed how maintenance activities can be simplified and improved by delivering information directly to staff when and where they need it.

The hands-free headsets are particularly suitable in hazardous environments, where health and safety is essential, and built to work with personal protective equipment such as hard hats.

EE, part of BT Group, was the first operator to launch a 5G network in the UK, with Belfast one of six cities chosen for phase one of the roll out.

The potential industry and business benefits of 5G enabled applications like this are vast, from improved operational efficiency and productivity, too fast and reliable knowledge transfer and higher employee satisfaction and engagement.

The second demonstration showed a 5G immersive experience, illustrating how the technology can virtual reality allow geographically dispersed participants to draw virtual reality content down from the cloud.

Participants can then be connected into the same real-time, virtual presentation or training event. Content creation and event sessions are managed using the simple to use VR solution from VRtuoso.

Speaking about the project, Gerry McQuade, CEO of BT’s Enterprise unit, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Belfast Harbour, Ubimax and VRtuoso to explore the benefits that 5G can bring to the Port and to the City of Belfast. 

 “Over the next 15 years, 5G technologies are expected to contribute 2.2 trillion dollars to the global economy.

“It will deliver far more than enhanced mobile broadband services for consumers and will have a far bigger impact in the enterprise space, by transforming entire industries. But 5G can’t be viewed in isolation.

“It needs to be considered as a vital component of a brand-new digital ecosystem comprising the Internet of Things, data analytics, AI, mobile edge computing, content and cloud infrastructure.  

 “The demonstrations we’ve shown today are a powerful illustration of what 5G can do for business, both here in Northern Ireland and across the UK. They’ve shown that 5G will be the catalyst for a revolution in how technology supports people, enables workplaces and simplifies operations.” 

Joe O’Neill, Chief Executive of Belfast Harbour added: Working with BT on this initiative has opened our eyes to a whole new world of 5G possibilities.

“We have a strong ambition and motivation to become the world’s best regional port and create an iconic waterfront district for Belfast, making it an attractive place to live, work, visit and invest in.

“Using the very latest technologies and collaborating with expert partners is a key part of how we will deliver that vision for Belfast.

“What we’ve seen so far has given us a real appetite to continue exploring how 5G enabled applications will help us transform the Port and Belfast’s waterfront, boost trade and make an even more significant contribution to Northern Ireland’s economy.”  

Commenting on the partnership, Ubimax CEO Dr. Hendrik Witt, said: “We are delighted to be chosen by BT and Belfast Harbour to be part of this innovative 5G project.

“Our xAssist remote support solution will not only support the frontline workers in their daily tasks, using hands-free Augmented Reality and wearable computing devices will also help solve issues faster and reduce downtimes significantly.”

VRtuoso CEO Francesco Furnari, who presented the 5G immersive demonstration at the event said: “VRtuoso is a great 5G proof point helping enterprise to accelerate their digital transformation.

“5G will be a catalyst for the mass adoption of immersive learning as it gives users a consistent, low latency experience wherever they are.

“We have commoditised VR production, content generation and usage meaning enterprises can now embed VR and AR in all facets of their business, in a matter of minutes and with no technical experience required.”

5G, VR and AR are just a number of the topics that will be discussed, debated and explored at Port Technology’s Smart Digital Ports of the Conference (#SDP19)

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