Virtual reality via smartphone starts to get real

AT&T, GridRaster team up to solve mobile VR latency dilemma

Virtual reality (VR) is finding new uses among automakers, healthcare providers and even astronauts, but VR graphics are often choppy or fuzzy when viewed over a smartphone. Digital overlays and high-end graphics needed to create immersive virtual environments tend to put too much strain on mobile device processors, leaving users scrambling for a wired connection to a computer.

To create a platform for a more convincing AR/VR (augmented reality/virtual reality) experience on mobile devices, AT&T unveiled a partnership with GridRaster Inc., a start-up that works with enterprises in the aerospace, automotive, industrial design and retail industries to put mobile VR/AR technologies to effective use. VR

AT&T and GridRaster will experiment with moving AR/VR mobile app processing to the cloud via low-latency network access, reducing the burden on the device without increasing latency. GridRaster’s underlying compute and network stack will be tested in AT&T’s next-generation, low-latency, edge computing network environment.

With AT&T’s edge technology, the computing power needed to process an application is moved to the cloud without being moved physically far away from the user.  As AT&T President of Technology and Operations Melissa Arnoldi recently put it in a blog post: “Rather than travel over wireless connections to data centers hundreds or thousands of miles away, we’ll propel this data across super-responsive 5G networks to computers just a few miles away.”

The collaboration with GridRaster is the first project at the new Edge Computing Test Zone at the AT&T Foundry in Palo Alto, Calif.  (Also being tested at the Foundry are self-driving cars.) The newest zone enables the carrier to work with third parties to rapidly test new products and system innovations that could benefit from its edge computing environment.

“By moving the processing power to the cloud and removing the physical distance between your device and the data center, mobile experiences will be dramatically enhanced,” said Rishi Ranjan, CEO & Founder of GridRaster. “The software behind this edge computing test zone will help us get there, faster.”

Edge computing is vital to AT&T’s 5G plan. The new test zone uses a 4G LTE network connection today, but the company plans to upgrade it to 5G, possibly by the end of the year.

“We’re working directly with developers, startups and third-party innovators to solve the latency dilemma that limits many existing AR/VR applications,” said Vishy Gopalakrishnan, vice president of Ecosystem & Innovation at AT&T. “Our ability to collaborate with the community and push forth rapid innovations is at the heart of this experiment.”

To learn more about this 5G network considering reading here

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