Verizon’s 5G labs test holographic medical imaging

Verizon has 5G Labs in five cities where it invites companies to flesh out some imaginative enterprise and consumer use cases for 5G.

Each of the labs has a focus. The Washington, D.C., facility focuses on government and non-profit uses cases for 5G. The Boston office looks at robotics and pharma; New York is for financial tech and publishing; the Silicon Valley lab team works with startups. Finally, the Los Angeles lab focuses on media and entertainment. And the carrier plans to announce a non-U.S.-based 5G lab soon.

The labs have been hosting a contest — “the Built on 5G Challenge” — and last week Verizon named the 10 finalists vying for the top prize. The winning team will receive $1 million to bring its idea to life. Second and third prize teams will be awarded $500,000 and $250,000, respectively. The winners will be announced at CES 2020 taking place January 7-10, 2020 in Las Vegas.

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Toby Redshaw, Verizon SVP of enterprise innovation and 5G, has been overseeing the 5G Labs since their initial formation more than two years ago.

He said 5G is going to be very disruptive to enterprise chief information officers (CIOs) who “have been stuck buying point solutions.” With more compute pushed out to edge locations and with the low latency and high bandwidth of 5G, CIOs will finally have some truly innovative applications.

For instance, one of the finalists in Verizon’s 5G Challenge is a company called Soul Machines. It basically creates an online, animated human to act as a customer service representative. Instead of speaking to a computer voice, customers can use a video app to feel like they’re talking to a “real” person.

Video over 5G

Redshaw gets to see a lot of ideas for 5G, and he seems particularly enthralled with the prospect of video applications that 5G will enable.

For instance, a medical company called Medivis is using 5G to convert 2-dimensional patient CT Scans and MRIs into 3-dimensional holographic renderings in order to precisely dissect around and remove cancerous tumors.

Traditionally, during surgical procedures doctors view a 2-D image and turn back to the operating table with their interpretation of how to proceed. But 5G will have the power to render a 3-D holographic image that the surgeon can view through glasses as an overlay on top of the surgical site. This will give greater precision for the doctor, who won’t have to keep looking back and forth from a 2-D image.

Verizon and Corning

Verizon also recently announced that it installed its 5G Ultra Wideband service in Corning’s fiber optic cable manufacturing factory in Hickory, North Carolina. Corning will use Verizon’s 5G technology to test how 5G can enhance functions such as factory automation and quality assurance in one of the largest fiber optic cable manufacturing facilities in the world.