Video service, the focus of users' attention, has become an indispensable way of life for people to obtain information, leisure and entertainment. Both long and short videos are in a stage of rapid development. As 5G network develops, its high reliability, high bandwidth, and low latency features will promote the rapid development and continuous innovation of video terminals in terms of shape, control mode and service mode, and deliver a brand-new experience to users.
New Video Terminals Bring High-Quality Experience
4K video can meet the high-quality requirements of home users for video definition, but there is still room for improvement in sound quality. Due to the limitations of equipment configuration, the combination of a common video terminal and a conventional TV set is difficult to offer high-quality sound effects like Dolby 5.1 surround sound. However, the cost of configuring external devices such as power amplifiers and high-quality speakers is relatively high.
To meet the above needs, ZTE has developed SoundBar terminals that integrate media players and high-quality audio devices. The SoundBar terminals can play UHD videos with high-quality sound effects, allowing users to enjoy a superior viewing experience at a reasonable price.
New Technologies Bring Changes to Terminal Control
The far-field natural voice interaction technology at a distance of three to five meters enables the control of terminals through natural voice interaction. This technology has matured, and has been gradually applied on terminals.
The process of converting natural voice into device control commands requires the cooperation between the local terminal and the remote system. The local terminal collects voice information and uploads it to the remote voice processing system for speech semantic analysis and control command conversion. After the completion of the processing, the remote system feeds back to the terminal. The whole process requires at least two network interactions. The reliability and timeliness of an access network are the basic guarantee for a better voice interaction experience. Mobile 5G networks featuring high bandwidth, high reliability and low latency can provide reliable service guarantee for real-time voice interaction and meet the growing demand for voice services.
Integrating AI and IoT technologies will make man-machine interaction more intelligent and easy to operate. The new control mode will be extended to all smart home devices.
5G + AI + far-field voice: The far-field voice technology allows users to use their voice for operations such as content searching, video control, information input and device configuration, which completely changes the terminal control mode by offering a true hands-free user experience. The integration of 5G MEC and AI enables intelligent voice interaction. Multimedia terminals can be upgraded to smart terminals providing new services that involve accompanying the elderly and educating children.
5G + IoT + far-field voice: By integrating IoT and far-field voice technologies, video terminals can control smart home devices through natural voice interaction. The traditional complex button and panel control can be simplified to voice commands for device control, and thus video terminals evolve into the control center of smart home.
ZTE has launched a series of smart voice terminals that integrate far-field voice, AI, and IoT technologies. With these smart voice terminals and the video system, ZTE is actively developing scenario-oriented and intelligent far-field voice control services, thus evolving video services towards intelligent voice control (Fig. 1). This allows users to enjoy a brand-new viewing experience and helps operators enhance customer stickiness while expanding new service opportunities.
5G-Enabled 8K and VR/AR Bring New Video Experience
8K video has a resolution of 33.18 million (7,680 × 4,320) pixels, four times the pixels of 4K video. 8K UHD will become the mainstream of the industry in the next two to three years. The gigabit access bandwidth, millisecond low latency and high reliability of a 5G network are naturally integrated with 8K UHD video services and complement each other. The commercialization of 5G will promote the rapid development of the 8K industry, and the evolution of the video industry to 8K will also drive the commercial 5G deployment.
VR/AR can be applied in many scenarios, such as VR movie theater, VR live broadcast, VR healthcare, VR education, and VR design, bringing opportunities for change in VR video viewing and application. However, its development is hindered by several basic weaknesses.
VR/AR uses near-eye displays that require much higher video resolution than a TV screen. If the resolution is insufficient, the image granularity may affect user experience and also results in the failure of using VR/AR in the industries that have higher requirements for video quality. It is generally accepted in the industry that 8K (4Kp60 on both eyes) can meet the entry-level requirements of VR/AR service experience.
Weaknesses in network support:
VR/AR imposes higher requirements on network stability, network bandwidth and transmission latency than ordinary video services. At present, there is no reliable Wi-Fi solution to guarantee network QoS. The wired network needs cabling and is not easy to use.
High processing capabilities required for terminals:
VR/AR needs to do a lot of video processing to achieve a good display effect. All the processing implemented on the terminal side will lead to the complexity, heavy and high cost of the equipment, which seriously restricts the service promotion.
The combination of 5G and 8K provides a perfect solution to the above weaknesses. 8K improves the resolution of 4K video by four times. 5G fulfills 8K’s network requirements for high bandwidth, high stability and low latency. 5G mobility removes the restriction on network access, making portable VR/AR possible. Moreover, 5G architecture fully supports enhanced multi-access edge computing (MEC). The deep integration of 5G and MEC moves computing capabilities from a terminal to the cloud, reducing the capability requirements for the terminal. Therefore, the terminal can be lightweight, and its cost is more reasonable. It will also trigger the transformation from the traditional VR headsets to glasses, delivering a more natural user experience. The high-quality viewing experience everywhere at any time will give new impetus to VR/AR services.
Relying on its distinct technical advantages in MEC, cloud computing and video terminals, ZTE has launched a 5G and MEC integrated Cloud VR solution and 8K terminal devices at the system side, and will soon roll out VR glasses, aiming to provide customers with lightweight VR/AR solution and create new business opportunities (Fig. 2).
4G changes life, and 5G will change society. In the 5G era, a variety of unimaginable new services will emerge, and video terminals will be more diversified. With the help of 5G networks, AI voice recognition and VR/AR terminals will accelerate the development and commercialization, bringing more new video experience to users.