On November 15, Rakuten conducted a major trial of 5G network technology at Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles baseball stadium, by performing field testing of several different applications made possible by the increased speed and lowered latency that 5G enables. The trial was organized mainly by Rakuten Mobile Network, with support from Nokia and Intel in providing the base station and 5G platform, to test the real-world capacity of the new technology, and naturally Rakuten Institute of Technology was highly involved in all the different tests being performed.
The tests held throughout the day were organized around the theme of a Smart Stadium, and included things like unmanned robot deliveries, drone-based identify verification, and 8K virtual reality video streaming, all utilizing a 5G network to make it possible. The goal of it all being to show how 5G, in combination with Rakuten’s many services and technologies, can create a better sports viewing experience.
The first trial was of delivery by using a remote operated unmanned delivery robot, and performing video-based identity verification. Thanks to the high capacity and low latency of 5G, the robot could be remotely operated in real-time through 4K video, something that has not been possible on current generation networks. The robot used in the trial was developed by us at Rakuten Institute of Technology in collaboration with Utsunomiya University, and the test was the first of its kind in Japan. The trial showed the potential of how this technology could enable last-mile logistics applications not previously viable.
The second trial used a drone equipped with a camera to perform live identity verification, where the 5G network enables the quick transmission and analysis of high quality video necessary. By being able to accurately and quickly identify individuals in crowded situations, this shows the potential for providing personalized services such as deliveries at sports and entertainment events.
The third and last trial was streaming a live 8K 360-degree virtual reality video over the air. Live streams of this quality could never be done on current generation networks, and the trial highlights the possibility of a real-time viewing experience for fans that are not able to make it to the event in person, or to give views of sections or angles not usually available to regular visitors.
For Rakuten as a company, and especially Rakuten Mobile Network, this trial is a look forward to the services that will be offered to the customers of our upcoming network, and the services and solutions this enables. And for us as Rakuten Institute of Technology, these are some of the many new technologies that we work with every day, and it is very exciting to see them taken to a field test of this scale. The opportunities that 5G is promising to unlock is truly breathtaking, as it enables solutions that were not possible before, and we can’t wait to see what is to come.
For the official press release on the trial, in English and Japanese, see the links below.