How Will 5G Impact The Way We Design Digital Products?
Two years ago, 5G was an exciting concept. Today, it is our near future. But something so technologically advanced is bound to change a lot about our everyday lives. From the way we communicate through the way we interact with products and businesses to the way we do things. Just think how much has changed when the Walkman first came out. Then the first iPod and iPhone. The first laptop. All of these advancements have led us to where we are today and each one changed something about our everyday life. 5G is no different in that aspect. So, what exactly is 5G and what possibilities it offers? What does the introduction of 5G worldwide mean for businesses and their products? How will 5G change the way we think about and approach product design? Let’s dive in.
What Is The 5G Mobile Network?
If you take a look at your phone right now, chances are, you’ll see a 3G or a 4G-LTE sign somewhere on the status bar. Those are today’s standard mobile networks. They’re third and fourth mobile network generations. Since the first one (1G), which provided voice-only analog connections, we have really made a huge leap forward. The most advanced mobile network today, available worldwide, is 4G. Although, most providers can’t really hit the 4G speed of 100mbps. And that’s why you might see the 4G-LTE status on your phone. It’s close to 100mbps but not quite there yet.
All that’s great. Most of us are happy with the service. Most of the time. But the demand has significantly outgrown the supply. People stream and transfer a lot of data, want to use high-quality video calls and have phone service anywhere, even in the most remote areas. And that’s where 5G comes in. While 4G transfers 1GB per second, 5G will be able to transfer 20GB. The innovation lies in the use of millimeter-waves and optimizing speed and coverage needs. This essentially means that there will be access to the internet everywhere in the world. Anywhere and everywhere. It also means that even if the demand is huge (let’s say at a conference or a festival), the network will be able to meet those needs.
In 2019, a few cellular service providers launched test and pilot programs for 5G. And there’s a possibility, that 5G will start to be implemented by the end of 2020. What will change and what are the main advantages of introducing 5G?
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What Possibilities Does 5G Offer?
Because of how drastically better and more advanced than our current networks 5G is, when it’s launched, we will have a lot of new opportunities and room for growth. Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said that 5G opens a lot of possibilities for the gaming industry. Especially AR games will see a huge growth under 5G.
5G could also mean the rise of telemedicine. Yes, you could be operated by a doctor that’s thousands of miles away. Because the connection is so fast and stable, doctors could remotely use robots to perform some procedures. This could be a big revolution in the healthcare industry.
Video calls will become really life-like. It’s good quality now, but imagine if it felt like you’re looking at your friends, family or team mates through a window. That’s the quality 5G will be able to provide.
All in all, the speed will be major. Downloading a full movie will take 15 seconds. This performance will kick-start all kinds of innovations like smart homes, self-driving cars and more. But before it happens, we will need to change our mindset and understand how this new technology will affect not only our everyday lives but also our businesses and interactions with services or products.
5G’s Impact On Businesses
According to Conor Pierce, a corporate vice president at Samsung, “With the release of the first commercial 5G devices, along with new and exciting form factors, we have seen reinvigorated consumer demand within the smartphone industry. As 5G capabilities continue to develop, we will see stimulation across other industries, including healthcare, automotive and smarter cities.”
Such exponential changes present multiple opportunities for businesses across all industries. But they also change customers’ behaviour, their needs and expectations. This double-edged sword is exactly why business owners should think ahead and start preparing for the 5G launch. Once consumers get used to extraordinary speed and performance, the disappointment level will be huge when something fails. And it’s not only a matter of B2C consumers. When 5G is implemented, it will enable us to improve search and rescue operations, medical procedures, autonomic cars, smart cities and more.
5G will bring connectivity at a level we have never seen before. With this network’s response time of 1ms, the customer journeys and interactions can be more elaborate. It will be really important to think through your products and consider a redesign according to the new 5G reality.
Is A New Way Of Designing Products On The Way?
With so many changes coming, and coming soon, we need to start thinking ahead. Not only business owners need to do so, but also product owners, project managers, designers, developers and testers. In short, all of us do. As Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s CEO states: “Once you have a network this sophisticated and advanced, all that storage, boost, high gear – you don’t need a big, bulky device. When you have this fast speed, no latency, you begin to think differently about the entire architecture of what kind of devices (and products) you design.”
It’s hard to predict what exactly will change but one thing’s for sure – most of our limitations will simply disappear. Those animations, 3D renders or AR features you wanted but would slow down your product? Now will work seamlessly.
The Big Change From A Designer’s Perspective
We asked two of our Designers about their thoughts on 5G and what might it change. Patryk and Robert shared their predictions and insights but keep in mind that there’s no way of telling what will happen until 5G is launched into the world.
User Interface Designer’s Perspective
One of our designers, Patryk Polak, says: “To be honest, I’m not quite sure what to expect. We know that 5G will be a big change and that it brings fast speed, no latency and overall great performance but there’s no way of telling how will all that shift design. I mean, there are two possible routes from my point of view. We will either gravitate towards more elaborate user journeys and flows or towards more elaborate interfaces and interactions. Or, a secret option number three, we will do both. No matter what happens, I am very excited. I’m sure many designers feel this way, but 5G is like a veil lifted. If something was blurry before, it won’t be anymore. The designs I make will truly come to life if I will be able to include more animations, micro interactions etc.”
User Experience Designer’s Perspective
Head of one of our design teams, Robert Siębor, shared his thoughts: “I wouldn’t say I’m skeptical, but I’m not that excited either. I guess we will have to wait and see. What I think will happen is that initially, we won’t notice a difference. Businesses will need some time to figure out how to fit such technology into people’s everyday lives. Because other than extreme situations (remote areas, big events and so on), 4G or 4G LTE pretty much fulfill our needs. Sure, we will be happy that a movie downloaded faster or the video call quality was better. But it will take time, before we figure out what do we want from this new technology, what can be done, so that it’s actually useful for us. I think that it’s crucial for every business to look closely at their market right after the 5G launch. Observe, analyze and come up with possible integrations of 5G into your customers’ lives and, hence, your products or services.“
Reimagined Products Of The Future
All this to say, things will change. According to Jasmeet Singh Sethi, Ericsson’s lead researcher, “the more-distant future won’t look anything like what we know today, especially when it comes to the design of the devices we’ll be using”. He also shared insights about customer expectations: “When we’ve spoken with consumers who carry the latest smartphones today, and you talk with them about 5G, what these users are saying is that the current form factor and feature sets cannot take advantage of the promise of 5G.”
This means that in order to fully utilize the power of 5G, we will need to reimagine our devices and the software we use today. Otherwise, we will just do the same things we do today – just a little (well, a lot actually) faster. As our team gathers more insights and observes the launch of 5G, we will keep you updated.
If you’re looking for an experienced team to transform your digital product into a 5G-ready masterpiece – contact us and we will come up with solutions that will boost your business’s digital transformation.