If there’s one thing that’s consistent about technology, it’s that it is constantly evolving. As tech standards develop and innovations emerge, the way people live their lives also changes. 5G is no exception. The transformations everyone can expect from the fifth generation of wireless technology standards are only just beginning.
Although more populated areas are experiencing some benefits of 5G, its capabilities aren’t fully realized yet. Once the technology is fully adopted, it stands to bring new advantages many people may not know about. Here are three things you didn’t know 5G could enhance.
1. Virtual Healthcare
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Telemedicine is already growing due to the conveniences afforded by internet technology and the need to streamline healthcare costs. Virtual doctor visits and prescription fulfillments for things like birth control, asthma, and hypertension are more common. But the increased bandwidth and speed capabilities of 5G stand to take virtual healthcare a step further.
If predictions are correct, online healthcare will expand to include everything from routine checkups to surgery. In-person visits may become extremely rare or even a thing of the past. 5G wireless networks make it possible to transmit more data with less latency. This means patients can wear devices that send information about their health status back to healthcare providers.
Wearable devices can monitor vital signs and functions that alert doctors about an existing or developing problem. Providers will be able to deliver more personalized healthcare and reach a larger number of patients. Wearables equipped with AI technology will also help medical practitioners make more accurate diagnoses, cutting down on repeat visits.
The increased speeds of 5G wireless networks have already made it possible for telesurgery to occur. A doctor in China successfully took out the liver of an animal via remote surgery on a 5G connection. Lower latency rates mean there’s less of a delay between the time data is sent and received between two locations. With 5G, surgeons can operate equipment remotely with more precision and fewer mistakes.
These improvements will facilitate the delivery of healthcare services outside the current norm. While it’s difficult to imagine a world without medical clinics or hospitals, the number of facilities may decline. Healthcare in the home or from anywhere there’s a 5G connection could become the new way the industry operates.
2. Self-Driving Cars
Mistakes behind the wheel contribute to the majority of accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a study showing that human error is at fault 94% of the time. Only the remaining 6% of accidents can be attributed to problems with the vehicle, driving environment, or unknown conditions. Self-driving or autonomous cars could take the largest contributor to vehicle accidents out of the equation.
These cars are not possible without 5G networks. Autonomous vehicles need to talk to other cars and the driving environment through sensors to work properly. These sensors send and receive data about road conditions, traffic light signals, and the proximity of other vehicles.
Without the low latency and increased bandwidth of 5G, a large number of cars can’t occupy the same space. The data transmissions would be too slow and possibly even become stalled. However, with 5G networks, the sensors in self-driving cars can cut down on accidents through enhanced assessments of the environment.
There will be fewer chances of misjudging when a light will turn red or how close another vehicle is. Through sensors and other data, cars will slow down when driving conditions become more dangerous. With more autonomous vehicles on the road, carpooling and ride-sharing may increase. Self-driving cars could bring additional enhancements beyond improved safety, such as reduced carbon emissions, traffic, and physical stress.
3. Precision Agriculture
The effects of climate change, including drought, are making it more difficult for crop growers. Areas of land that were once viable growing locations are shrinking, and the agricultural industry is having to adjust its practices. At the same time, global population surges are increasing the demand for food. Farmers are under pressure to produce more with less land.
Consequently, the use of precision agriculture is on the rise. Its practice relies on IoT devices that communicate over wireless networks. These devices relay data about soil conditions and whether crops are becoming diseased. Precision agriculture helps farmers improve irrigation techniques and yield more food in less time with fewer workers.
For instance, dairy farms equipped with IoT and AI devices can milk cows without a lot of human intervention. Instead of relying on manual, traditional milking methods, these farms can depend on machines to get the job done. AI-powered machines are less likely to make mistakes, and they don’t get tired. Plus, IoT devices can record and send data that helps farmers optimize the process.
In rural areas, 4G is still more likely to be prevalent. Large telecoms are less inclined to make infrastructure investments to build networks. The potential ROI usually doesn’t make sense for these organizations due to lower population counts. However, regional wireless carriers often exist in smaller communities. Some of these carriers can invest in 5G upgrades to existing networks and plan to do so.
State and federal initiatives to extend the reach of broadband technology to rural areas may also speed up 5G adoption. Until then, IoT devices that make precision agriculture possible are running on 4G in some areas. This can be partially credited to less network congestion.
Additional network equipment upgrades that extend the availability of wireless frequencies with greater bandwidth also help. However, eventually, 5G capabilities will be necessary to deploy precision agriculture on a grander scale. And a future where precision agriculture is the norm rather than the exception is fast approaching.
While 5G won’t completely take over 4G networks right away, the latest wireless tech standards will transform many industries. Less latency, higher speeds, and increased data transmission capacities are core advantages 5G has over previous generations of wireless technology. Some of the changes 5G will initiate are already evident on a small scale.
Experiments and trials involving telesurgery, self-driving cars, and precision agriculture stand to expand to full-blown adoption. Like previous technology evolutions, 5G’s benefits and enhancements are perceived today as conveniences. Tomorrow those same enhancements will become ingrained in society as necessities.