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China Unicom uses drones for live VR video over 5G

The first use cases for commercial 5G look to be  very conventional – fixed wireless in the US and stadium showcases in Asia. But in the operators’ labs, far more dramatic applications are envisaged. China Unicom’s Network Technology Research Institute  (NTRI) is being particularly fantastical, working on a use case it describes as “panoramic virtual reality streaming of live video using drone technology”.

The second Chinese mobile operator is working with small cells provider Baicells on a prototype VR-enabled live video platform, harnessing Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) to deliver advanced, live experiences close to the user, to achieve the low latency that they will require. The triallists are also using Artesyn Embedded Technologies’ MaxCore MEC acceleration platform.

The platform emerging technologies – a panoramic video collage algorithm and transmission protocol – to provide VR video streaming from drones equipped with 360-degree HD cameras. Users can manipulate their perspective in real time for an immersive live VR experience.

“This end-to-end solution can be applied not only to concerts, sporting events, films and other entertainment industries …  but it can also be applied to public safety, emergency communication, UAV inspection and much more,” Baicells research director Mingyu Zhou said. “We believe China Unicom and Baicells’ joint research and development can help users experience live HD VR video transmissions more quickly and smoothly.”

“MEC provides a distributed computing environment for application and service hosting, bringing cloud technologies closer to the RAN and ultimately, closer to consumers,” Artesyn marketing VP Linsey Miller added.

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