A new centre focusing on the application of 5G technology was launched by Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) and StarHub yesterday, ahead of 5G's impending roll-out in Singapore this year.
Work has already begun on an initial four use cases at the NYP-StarHub Application & Experience Centre for 5G (Apex 5G), including a tie-up with the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) for real-time remote monitoring of emergency patients.
Other industry partners that NYP and StarHub are collaborating with include BHG Singapore, STMicroelectronics and a number of local tech start-ups.
Located at NYP's School of Engineering, the centre will also train more than 100 students annually to give them exposure to real-life industry use cases.
Effective 5G use cases should be able to exploit at least one of the technology's three key advantages over existing 4G networks, said Dr Vinn Prabhu, deputy director of digital engineering at NYP's School of Engineering, who oversees the centre's operations. These advantages are network speeds up to 20 times faster than 4G, higher reliability and increased bandwidth capacity, which means more devices can be connected at any time.
With the tie-up with SGH, for example, artificial intelligence algorithms are used to predict or identify emergency patients at risk of rapid deterioration.
To do this, large amounts of data have to be transferred reliably and quickly from sensors and cameras which monitor patients' vital signs, such as body temperature. This is where 5G technology comes in.
Patient registration could also be automated with facial recognition software, which would in turn require high network speeds for the high-definition camera feed.
"These are use cases where you cannot afford to have lag, as the faster the data is transferred, the faster an intervention can be made," said Dr Vinn.
He added that NYP is working on proofs of concept for the four use cases which could be ready in the next six to nine months.
The second use case is a project with department store BHG Singapore, where 5G technology enables video cameras to be placed in store locations previously not accessible with wires, helping the store track customer browsing habits and behaviour. The other two use cases involve real-time site inspections using drones, and quality control for machines in the advanced manufacturing sector.
StarHub chief executive officer Peter Kaliaropoulos said the technical capability of 5G is not enough to change the way society functions, and it must be paired with human decision-making to produce meaningful ways of analysing the increased data the technology brings.
"In a 5G-enabled world, I believe the use cases are limited only by human imagination. We're coming across use cases that we would never have thought were possible," he added.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority has set the end of this month as the deadline for telcos to submit detailed business proposals before issuing licences to operate four 5G networks here. All four networks can be rolled out by this year to provide spot coverage.