5G Edge-XR: Volumetric Video Compression and Rendering

Andrew Calway

University of Bristol


This project, 5G Edge-XR, will help realise the vision and potential of 5G networks and ensure the UK takes early advantage of the applications those networks enable. It will help deliver productivity and efficiency benefits to the UK, create new opportunities for UK businesses at home and abroad, and encourage inward investment.

5G mobile networks can deliver immersive Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) experiences that are not possible on current mobile networks. This is because 5G networks can be engineered to minimise latency and deliver the very high data throughputs these types of experience demand.

To accelerate the commercial deployment of immersive AR and VR use cases, 5G Edge-XR will demonstrate how high-end graphical processing units (GPUs) located at the edge of the 5G network can be used to offload the burden of computationally demanding tasks from client devices.

By building a capability to deliver a range of prototype immersive applications over 5G aligned to entertainment, education, retail, cultural, manufacturing and building industries, 5G Edge-XR will help develop the economic case for the commercial deployment of edge based GPU systems that will enable ubiquitous access to AR and VR experiences.

Latency is important for immersive experiences with the critical latency being the time it takes for a viewer's movement to be fully reflected in the virtual scene; this is known as the motion-to-photon latency. Motion-to-photon latency should not exceed 20ms in order to avoid motion sickness, longer than this and the brain gets confused because what it sees is not in sync with the physical motion of the user.

Today's VR and AR experiences typically require powerful client devices to render and display immersive experiences in real time with minimal motion-to-photon latency. Even so, the visual fidelity will be limited by the available GPU. 5G Edge-XR will demonstrate how 5G networks coupled with cloud GPU can enable higher-quality real-time immersive experiences to be provided to a broader range of devices including smartphones, tablets, AR and VR headsets and TVs. This will increase the addressable market for AR and VR and encourage the deployment of new services that will benefit manufacturing, building, cultural, education, and entertainment industries.

The project will enable creatives, technologists and system designers to work together to specify and test 5G networks configurations designed to meet or exceed the exacting requirements for immersive experiences and show the technical and economic feasibility of 5G networks incorporating edge-based GPU capabilities.

5G Create Competition by Department of Culture Media and Sport