Professional baseball, to the annoyance of some real and would-be fans, remains in very large part an analog game, given the reliance on human umpires and adherence to traditions that date back to your grandfather’s time.
But when it comes to 5G mobile network technology, that might be changing, at least slowly.
A baseball stadium in South Korea — where baseball is a big sport — is transforming itself into a place where the potential for 5G can be displayed via game-related technology tools, according to a UPI report.
“KT Wiz Park has been fitted with cutting-edge tech that allows fans to use their smartphones to stream video from multiple angles, access reams of real-time data and even order food to be delivered directly to their seats,” the report said.
The actual park, located some 20 miles outside of Seoul, is the home team of the KT Wiz, which in turn is owned by South Korean telecom KT.
“KT, which tested 5G technology during the bobsleigh and figure-skating competitions at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, is planning to expand the system to the nine other teams of the professional Korean Baseball Organization League,” the report said.
South Korea, along with China and the U.S., stand among the early leaders in 5G mobile network technology and use cases, and this 5G-enabled baseball stadium is only the latest such development from that country.
South Korea’s SK Telecom and retail conglomerate Shinsegae Group have joined forces on 5G retail, for instance. They plan to develop new business models and services centered around 5G technology. The recent deal calls for the companies to develop what a report called “5G-based business models that can be applied to Shinsegae’s department stores and discount store chain E-Mart as well as various shopping malls.”
That effort will apparently involve virtual reality (VR) along with augmented reality (AR). The plan is to use VR technology to enable consumers to shop via digital platforms instead of inside brick-and-mortar locations, although no further details were immediately available.
That’s not to count out the U.S. when it comes to the potential and reality of 5G technology for commerce. The wireless industry association CTIA released a report that said the U.S., in terms of readiness, deployments and spectrum allocation, is leading the transition to the new telecommunications standard. However, it does struggle in two areas: mid-band spectrum and national strategy. Even so, by the latter part of 2019, the U.S. should have 92 commercial 5G deployments, versus 48 in South Korea, 16 in the U.K. and none in China.
And when it comes to AR, you can count on more efforts in the new decade, thanks to the fledgling deployments of 5G mobile network technology.
“Retailers like to vaunt their forays into augmented and virtual reality, but current 4G connectivity isn’t fast enough to scale these capabilities to all mobile users,” is how one recent analysis put it. “Many AR experiments are still considered proof-of-concept, but standardizing 5G will undoubtedly accelerate the mainstreaming of connected retail.”
The focus of a good deal of those AR efforts will no doubt come down to the omnichannel experience — that is, augmenting, if you will, the in-story experience for digital- and mobile-minded consumers.
“Above all, in-store AR adds a visual context to the purchasing experience,” the analysis stated. “A customer can hover their smartphone over a product and see product information, such as ingredients, ratings and instructions projected onto their screen.”
As for the baseball stadium, fans of the sport often love the relative slowness and no-clock character of the game, but the 5G deployment promises them more speed, either for accessing statistics or taking advantage of the video, streaming and other options. 5G is getting off the ground, and you can thank pro sports, at least in part, for that.