Huawei invited Virtual Perceptions to their Huawei European Innovation Day in Rome, with representatives from governments, companies, and the scientific community. Huawei’s official aim is to foster openness and collaboration to bring a digital Europe, including 5G, to machine learning and the infrastructure of countries. Dr. Liang Hua, Chairman of Huawei’s Board of Directors, highlighted the goal during his opening keynote.
Many of the talks were fascinating, from the exploration of polar codes to improve the capacity of 5G networks to the barriers of machine learning and how to potentially overcome them. Huawei’s event was broad in scope, with a transnational focus. At least, far wider than the comparatively narrow immersive reality community. That said, Huawei European Innovation Day gave various insights help elucidate the issues currently facing immersive reality.
Huawei European Innovation Day and connectivity concerns
Both VR and AR will push connectivity requirements. Low latency is one example, as a good connection reduces buffering requirements and lag for interactive content, such as 6DoF controllers. By improving the connectivity, the quality of experiences will rise. Further, bandwidth improvements increase the capabilities of headsets. According to ABI Research, 50 to 1000 Mbps bandwidth enables next-gen 360 videos (8K, 90+ FPS, HDR, stereoscopic); and 200 to 5000 Mbps brings 6DoF video.
These improvements are critical. Streaming sports events live requires a massive amount of capacity, while 6DoF content requires low latency to avoid sickness. Huawei is investing in the connectivity of these applications, while the likes of Google, Apple, and Facebook are investing in immersive hardware.
Exploration at Huawei European Innovation Day
Further talks during the event reinforced the importance of 5G research. Dr. Erdal Arıkan, the inventor of polar codes, gave his talk on how the codes improve capacity, with thanks to his research. Vincent Pang, President of Western Europe Region, Huawei, said that we are entering the sixth Schumpeterian wave of innovation, encompassing digital infrastructure (5G, IOT, Cloud, and AI).
All the talks focused on the continued relevance and importance of 5G, which will also encompass immersive devices. The conference also covered the nitty-gritty details of the technology, which was great to follow.
One area focused directly on VR. Alex Wang, President of Huawei X Labs, showcased a technology which connected people in virtual worlds, similar to other companies working in VR. Huawei wanted to connect people. This culminated into the creation of Cloud VR solution, a cloud platform for game development. As Cloud VR services need good latency, the company created a solution which rendered to the cloud, which reduces terminal costs.
AR and Huawei
These are all forward-looking statements, though current companies are dabbling with the technology too, such as SketchAR. I spoke to Andrey Drobitko and Alexander Danilin, co-founders, who elaborated on their relationship with Huawei.
SketchAR needed a powerful smartphone to enable their technology, as Huawei has a powerful network. Huawei supports independent developers, and they enabled SketchAR to bring their drawings to live using AI and smart imaging algorithms. As they said, it is a new case of using the technology in a new and innovative way. Overall they were very happy to be working with Huawei at the event.
Innovation and openness
I very much enjoyed my day in Rome. While broad, I thoroughly enjoyed the technical discussions on how 5G can be enabled, as well as the other ways in which countries can innovate together. Huawei showed their hearts and intentions.
My next questions will relate to the future. Alex Wang noted that there needs to be 100 Mbps bandwidth for Cloud VR to enable VR for medical training. This is a lot of data, so one wonders whether this technology will come sooner than expected.