5G enables world-first in virtual reality streaming

Chris Guerin

A world-first streaming of high-end VR across Greater Manchester was achieved on Vodafone’s live 5G network to its Digital Innovation Hub at IN4.0 with The Landing, MediaCityUK.

Xpllore, based at The Landing, in Salford, has been working to achieve a VR experience delivered over cloud platform and super-fast 5G connectivity.

Virtual Reality has been one of the most significant technologies discussed over the past few years, but its hardware accessibility and fit with the market has not led to the expected explosive growth that some analysts predicted.

Xpllore has been working to help change this, and the new capabilities of 5G networks are the key.

Chris Guerin, Xpllore’s founder and chief executive, said: “We knew that if we could make VR intuitive and easy to access content, for example the way platforms like Netflix and Amazon have, then the global market for this would potentially be enormous.

“The technology and network capability will finally be aligned to consumer appetite for content.”

The team set out to create a pipeline and content platform in the cloud delivered over a ‘slice’ of 5G network.

The effect of this is to enable the user to access immersive content on demand, similar to how you use a smartphone today, and removes the need of a complicated home hardware set up and pre-loaded content.

The journey started in January 2019, when Xpllore started to work with Vodafone at the ‘first-of-its-kind’ Digital Innovation Hub based in The Landing at MediaCityUK.

The team were already well-versed in the potentials of 5G, but with Vodafone’s global expertise, they were able to develop their thinking and their platform to enable high-end visual content, such as VR, to be accessed from the cloud.

To achieve this a Mobile Edge Compute cloud solution linked to the MediaCityUK Hub was developed to manage and compute the high-end visual content delivered over the network.

Jon Corner, chief digital officer for the City of Salford, said: “There are two amazing stories here.

“A world-first for immersive content delivery over network in Greater Manchester which will have real future implications for key sectors – health, engineering, entertainment etc. And the fact that it’s the energy and determination of our start-ups that is leading the way.

“It’s important for the UK company that we continue to find ways of supporting start-ups to work alongside global companies to innovate for the future.”