When AI and 5G Combine, Watch For a New Generation of Applications

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The combination of 5G networks with AI stands to enable a new generation of applications. Credit: Getty Images

By AI Trends Staff

AI and 5G enable each other. Machine learning thrives on massive amounts of data, and 5G will create massive amounts of data. 5G provides the high-speed network to move the data that AI needs to succeed, and AI potentially has the ability to handle the complexity of 5G.

The combination stands to enable a new generation of applications, suggests a recent article in Electronic Design. These include autonomous driving, augmented reality, virtual reality and the tactile internet.

The latency target built in for 5G is 1 ms; video streaming in comparison currently experiences a 1,000 ms latency. 

Some applications will require low latency, such as streaming video, and others will not. Network managers will need the ability to set priorities for how traffic flows. Network slicing is seen as one solution, in which a single, shared physical network has multiple virtualized networks running on top of it. This would allow a manufacturer for example, to pay for a network slice with a guaranteed latency and reliability for connecting smart machines and equipment. A separate less expensive slice could be for employee communications, such as cell phone communication and tablet operation.

In the current state of the art, slices must be manually configured. The AI could help with this, optimizing the network so that traffic is routed based on device needs.

5G Can Bring Better Context Awareness

Voice-activated assistants such as Siri are using AI to process spoken words, within limits. Contextual awareness enabled by 5G would enable these AI assistants to be far more powerful, said Bob Rogers, chief data scientist for analytics and AI in Intel’s Data Center Group. With access to more data at faster speeds than available today, devices will be better able to understand their surroundings.

The combination of 5G and AI is seen as leading to many business opportunities, according to an article in MarTechSeries

“In addition to the striking speed, which enables data transmission between two end systems almost instantly, 5G’s ability to connect thousands of such devices at once with lower latency, higher reliability, and lesser battery consumption lays a strong foundation for the effective adoption of emerging technologies,” said Archi Dasgupta, director of disruptive technology at GlobalData, a data analytics and consulting company.

Archi Dasgupta, director of disruptive technology at GlobalData

IoT applications stand to be better-enabled with the advent of 5G combined with AI. In the mining industry for example, low latency and reliability are relied on for daily operations and safety. The Swedish minder Boliden has collaborated with Ericsson to deploy 5G at the Aitik mine, fitted with hundreds of sensors for industrial automation. The expectation is that the use of 5G networks will deliver $2.7 million in savings annually. 

The cost of wide-scale rollout of 5G is likely to hold it back. “While the commercial adoption of 5G for industrial applications is expected to take off in the early 2020s, mainstream adoption could take longer due to several hurdles – the most crucial being cost,” said Dasgupta. “5G requires network operations to replace the entire network infrastructure.”

Alliance of 5G and AI Seen as Leading to Business Transformation

One observer sees the convergence of 5G and AI as leading to massive business transformation.

“Today, an alliance is being forged between 5G and artificial intelligence (AI) that together will be pillars of the digital transformation of millions of businesses around the globe,” said Rui Inacio, head of consultancy and solutions at Vilicom, an IT services management firm, in an interview in Silicon.

5G has the potential to close the cycle on the convergence between fixed and mobile networks. This could allow the migration of all the services today dependent on fixed connections, to mobile connectivity, enabling a true mobility of services.

Industries including manufacturing, warehousing, construction and logistics and supply chain that manufacture and trade on a global scale may be enabled to compete with countries that offer lower paid labor rates, suggests Inacio. “This means that developed countries affected by the offshoring advent of the 1990s and 2000s can retain a competitive position,” he said.

Read the source articles in Electronic Design, MarTechSeries and Silicon.