Samsung and Japanese telecoms operator KDDI have now successfully completed testing of a real-time free-viewpoint video streamed over 5G. The test was completed during a professional baseball game in Japan's Okinawa Cellular Stadium, utilizing 16 cameras. That allowed the test viewers, watching the feed on Samsung-branded 5G test tablets, to interactively watch hitters from multiple angles. More concisely, with the free-viewpoint video technology developed by KDDI viewers are able to switch angles smoothly, at will, via reconstructed 3D scenes. According to Samsung's announcement, the test was completed utilizing the Korean tech giant's own battery of 5G end-to-end solutions. Included in that were a virtualized core, virtualized RAN, and a small 5G access unit. The stream was fed to ten of the company's 5G-enabled test tablets.
The purpose of the test hinges on the fact that 5G is expected to completely change the way television is delivered to viewers. Building on the digitization of broadcast signals, the networks are expected to deliver programming to all manner of devices ranging from more traditional television sets to smartphones and tablets. The two companies teamed up to show that the next-generation technology can be used to deliver high-quality content in use cases where broadcasters are taking advantage of free-viewpoint or similar media. In this case, they showed that high-volume videos which allow for freeform viewing angle changes in real-time can be broadcast over 5G. The resulting effect, which is very similar to VR without the expensive extra hardware, should be an experience for viewers which is much closer to an in-person view than would have been possible prior to 5G.
Of course, the completion of these tests doesn't necessarily mean that free-viewpoint television will be arriving at every corner of the globe anytime soon. 5G is still approximately one to five years away from being widely available for consumers and there's no guarantee that broadcasters will get onboard with KDDI's technology. In the meantime, neither company is done with the collaborative efforts by any stretch of the imagination. Following the success of this test, KDDI and Samsung plan to continue working to develop the solution and others in order to prepare for the incoming launch of full-fledged 5G mobile networks.