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Belfast Harbour, BT, Ubimax and VRtuoso partner for 5G AR and VR demos

David Murphy

Belfast Harbour from aboveBelfast Harbour, BT and mixed reality partners Ubimax and VRtuoso have staged two live demonstrations, performed over BT’s public 5G network, to showcase show two 5G-enabled applications that are being explored by Belfast Harbour as part of its vision for creating a ‘Smart Port’ and an iconic waterfront for the City.

In the first, a member of Belfast Harbour’s operations team wearing an augmented reality headset connected to a 5G device was seen inspecting one of the Harbour’s cranes and receiving step-by-step maintenance guidance and remote support through video collaboration with a remote expert, via an application server in the cloud.

5G provided the ultrafast speeds and reliability needed, while augmented reality solutions firm Ubimax provided the software for the headsets. These computing devices can easily be worn by any operational staff working out in the Port. The demonstration showed how maintenance activities can be simplified and improved, by delivering information directly to staff when and where they need it. The hands-free headsets are particularly suitable in hazardous environments, where health and safety is essential, and built to work with personal protective equipment such as hard hats.

The second demonstration showed a 5G immersive experience, illustrating how 5G can make virtual reality ‘boundary-less’ by enabling geographically dispersed participants to draw virtual reality content down from the cloud. Participants can then be connected into the same real-time, virtual presentation or training event. Content creation and event sessions are managed using the a VR solution from VRtuoso, while 5G provides the connectivity needed for the content download and real-time event interaction.

Gerry McQuade, CEO of BT’s Enterprise unit, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Belfast Harbour, Ubimax and VRtuoso to explore the benefits that 5G can bring to the Port and to the City of Belfast.

“Over the next 15 years, 5G technologies are expected to contribute 2.2 trillion dollars to the global economy. It will deliver far more than enhanced mobile broadband services and will have a far bigger impact in the enterprise space, by transforming entire industries. But 5G can’t be viewed in isolation. It is a vital component of a brand-new digital ecosystem comprising the Internet of Things, data analytics, AI, mobile edge computing, content and cloud infrastructure.

“The demonstrations we’ve shown today are a powerful illustration of what 5G can do for business, both here in Northern Ireland and across the UK. They’ve shown that 5G will be the catalyst for a revolution in how technology supports people, enables workplaces and simplifies operations.”

Joe O’Neill, chief executive of Belfast Harbour added: “Working with BT on this initiative has opened our eyes to a whole new world of 5G possibilities. We have a strong ambition and motivation to become the world’s best regional port and create an iconic waterfront district for Belfast, making it an attractive place to live, work, visit and invest in.

"Using the very latest technologies and collaborating with expert partners is a key part of how we will deliver that vision for Belfast. What we’ve seen so far has given us a real appetite to continue exploring how 5G enabled applications will help us transform the Port and Belfast’s waterfront, boost trade and make an even more significant contribution to Northern Ireland’s economy.”

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