What does 5G mean for website design in 2020? 

OPINION / DAN SHEARMAN

There’s still some uncertainty about the introduction of 5G – not least an early panic that the new radio frequency was about to reduce our brains to scrambled egg. Whether or not half of the planet’s population needs to invest in tin foil hats, one thing is for certain: it’s about to change the game.

Reducing the size and quality of content to minimise lag will be a distant memory as we apply 4k video to website designs with gay abandon, but let’s think bigger – we aren’t just talking about increased data transfer speeds and reduced latency, we are talking about a level of processing and integration that makes the mobile experience as powerful as any computer.

The introduction of 5G comes with exciting opportunities for website design. Here are three pieces of technology to look out for in the next generation of interactive user experiences.

1. Extended reality

 

The umbrella term to describe immersive technologies (virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality) that merge the physical and virtual worlds.

We all remember when IKEA released their AR app back in 2013 and more recently advancing to VR shopping experience. Although currently reserved to an in-store only solution, the introduction of 5G takes forward-thinking brands like IKEA one step closer to fully immersive and seamless virtual online shopping experiences, and hopefully us not having to shuffle around warehouse on some out of town industrial estate for 3hrs, rewarded only by a plate of suspiciously bouncy “meat” balls.

2. Blockchain

Blockchain is commonly associated with cryptocurrency, and until relatively recently that’s where the hype ended. With increased speed 5G will pave the way for fast, effective and innovative uses like Provenance who use the blockchain and open data to connect products and their supply chains – in turn allowing consumers to track the origin, journey and impact of their products online via connected physical product tags.

With consumers demanding more information on the provenance of their purchases, this level of technology will be invaluable to anything from fashion to food. And if the future means I can point my phone at a pack of sausages to see every stage of that pig’s journey to my plate, then I’m all in.

3. Computer Vision

 

The artificial intelligence that allows machines to “see,” analyse visual data and then make decisions about that visual input. Early versions of this technology are already in use within the fashion industry, using still images to suggest a catalogue of similar outfits from a selection of online stores.

The introduction of 5G paired with customised AI-based image recognition applications allows cheap webcams to turn into sophisticated image analysis systems, capable of recognising not only faces, but the colour and style of clothing and objects. With that in mind it won’t be long until online retailers are integrating this technology and your device is scanning your outfit to suggest a pair of shoes that would “complete that look”.

Helpful machine intelligence, or the unstoppable creep of advertising in our lives? Either way, the future is coming.