Qualcomm CEO outlines the future of 5G for consumers

5G will create a paradigm wherein every person has a digital twin

Speaking with the Wall Street Journal in a recent podcast, Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon laid out how he sees 5G enabling a variety of new consumer-facing experiences marked by higher data speeds, reduced latency, 5 9s reliability and instantaneous access to cloud computing and storage.

In the U.S. and other key global markets, 5G networks are being built out with an initial focus on major metropolitan areas and with the potential for nationwide coverage beginning in the 2020 timeframe, Amon said, adding that this new era of connectivity will usher in a fundamental shift in how consumers interact with mobile devices.

In comparing LTE with its successor, Amon gave the example of streaming music over an LTE connection–regardless of signal strength, a user is almost always able to stream music, which means it’s not downloaded onto the device. “With 5G, that’s how you’re going to feel about 4K video,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “The next step is the most important one. 5G is about connecting you with the cloud. As you build coverage, you’re going to have the speed and reliability, you’re going to be connected with the cloud 100% of the time. People are going to live much more in the app than in the OS. Your data, you’re not going to be thinking about what data to put in the phone. We’re not going to see anymore a scenario that you just don’t have connectivity. You’re going to assume it’s there and it’s going to work like electricity.”

During Mobile World Congress Barcelona, major smartphone OEMs, including Samsung, Oppo, Xiaomi and Sony unveiled 5G devices based on Qualcomm’s X50 modem and Snapdragon 855 SoC. In fact, there are some 30 commercial devices in the works for release this year and Qualcomm has already unveiled the X55, which will power the second generation of 5G Android devices.

Amon gave another example, this time of 5G as the connectivity medium that links a smartphone with the functionality of a $10,000 gaming PC where game play takes place on the phone and the heavy computation lift takes place in the cloud. “You can get computing on demand…and that’s going to be very different. It’s going to be applications we haven’t seen yet.”

Looking a little further down the road, Amon reflected on combining mobile connectivity, web-based social interactions and even referenced the Netflix show Black Mirror. While he didn’t reference a specific episode, his comments point straight to the Series 3, Episode 1 installment titled “Nosedive” wherein mobile-connected implants tied into a larger system of social currency let people rate interactions with one another on a star-based scale, which is, in turn, used to inform things like access to housing or rental cars. Worth noting that the Chinese government has instituted a social credit system which considers factors like health, social media presence, debt and income, and amount of time spent gaming to potential restrict things like transportation and access to private schools.

Anyway, back to Amon: “Think about having an eyeglasses…Then you have like a Black Mirror episode experience. You walk into a room, through the 5G high speed and latency and through a lot of machine learning on the device, you look at everybody’s face–instant recognition, instant[ly] go to the cloud, pull their data out, link them on Facebook, Instagram, tell you if you’ve met them, who are they connected with, give you information about everything. The technology is possible. That’s not that distant.”

So is that a good thing? “Resistance is futile,” he said. “We’re going to connect everything. We have an understanding of what our physical beings are and how we protect our physical beings. But all of us right now will have also a digital being. I think governments are going to evolve in their role of protecting…both your physical and digital beings. We’re all going to have our digital twin. The faster we understand that, I think the faster we find solutions for it.”