5G Could Enable Interactive Video But Raise Privacy Issues

People typically associate 5G with ultra-fast high-bandwidth Internet connections, but few realize it will also impact how we watch video and could lead to a range of privacy concerns. With 5G, truly interactive television programming can become a reality, with minimal latency enabling content to respond quickly to the viewer’s emotional and physical responses. According to interactive video company Wirewax co-founder Dan Garraway, the video becomes “a two-way conversation.” In other words, while we watch 5G content, it watches back.

CNET reports that the first 5G-compatible smartphones will begin to debut in 2019, and that, according to an Ovum forecast commissioned by Intel, 5G is expected to “propel annual revenue from immersive and new media applications from zero to $67 billion within a decade.” Those two companies forecast that, “5G will more than triple the mobile media market worldwide, reaching $420 billion in 2028 from $170 billion this year.”

For those skeptical that 5G will introduce change, CNET points to the radical “explosion of mobile connectivity” that took place when technology evolved from 3G to 4G LTE. “The widespread availability of 4G enabled a massive improvement of distribution of video,” said Jim Spare, chief operating officer of interactive video company Eko. “With 5G, new forms of video media entirely can be delivered into a mobile setting.”

With regard to latency, 5G’s 1 millisecond response time dramatically improves 4G’s 20 milliseconds; 5G also better handles video, which represents huge amounts of data. Sandvine said that video is “almost 58 percent of the downstream traffic on the Internet this year.” With 5G, new kinds of video are also possible, including interactivity. An “interactive movie means that you could relive that [footage] in the time that you’re watching the movie, switching cameras on the fly,” said Garraway.

With 5G, video can also be “created in real time according to your responses … [and] react to your involuntary cues and all the data you unconsciously provide … [or] mimic the weather or time of day to more closely match the atmosphere in real life.” The potential of video interaction doesn’t just open doors to creative possibility, but “it’s also a potential privacy nightmare,” since “5G could leverage every piece of visual information a phone can see on cameras front and back in real time.”