The futuristic SOHO China 5G Lab held its first open day event on Oct. 14, with two robots greeting visitors at the door.
Besides greeting guests, the robots from CloudMinds could also strike up conversations with them. During the event, one of the “semi-humanoids” equipped with conversational capabilities conducted multiple rounds of dialogue with a visitor and responded to questions about “her” gender with words that sounded like what a native Chinese speaker would use.
The robots, who are able to serve as receptionists at hotels or retail stores, were only one of the 18 cutting-edge 5G applications showcased in the 500-square-meter lab on the day.
To the right of the door, staff from an apartment-hunting platform, ke.com/Beike Zhaofang presented apartment viewings in virtual reality (VR) to visitors through its app. Wearing special headsets, people can even look around the units and tap to go into the bedrooms and get a virtual feel of the space.
With the VR demo, apartment-hunters or homebuyers do not have to make the journey to see the apartments in person. Dong Rui, marketing manager of the platform’s RealSee VR department, said that the app also allows clients to view re-decorated VR versions of the apartments and make changes to their interiors to suit their tastes.
According to Dong, VR viewings are available for around 70% to 80% of the houses in Beijing registered on the app, but admitted that visual effects had to be compressed under a 4G connection.
“With a 5G connection, customers can see the apartments in VR much more clearly and quickly,” Dong said.
Besides applications involving the intelligent recognition of human faces and ultra-high definition videos, other 5G applications on display also included medical care and remote interaction.
In a corner of the lab by a glass curtain wall, a volunteer took an 11.8 mm×27 mm capsule endoscope with warm water before lying on an examining table.
A computer and a large screen next to it would present what the capsule saw in real time. After making sure the capsule entered the stomach of the volunteer, the technician stood up and left the remaining work for his counterparts to conduct via remote operation. Next to the examining table was an iPad, showing a live visual of technicians working remotely from another location.
“5G communication signals feature a shorter delay and offer smoother visual effects, allowing technicians to operate the equipment better from a distance,” Zhang Yuan, brand director of Ankon Medical Technologies Co., Ltd., said. He added that in this way, people could be examined via remote capsule endoscope by highly qualified doctors, thereby eliminating the need for them to commute.
“The SOHO China 5G lab positions itself to be a platform for testing, applying and showcasing such 5G products,” Pan Shiyi, chairman of SOHO China, said.
To this end, SOHO China has been cooperating with China’s three major communication operators — China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom. They are jointly building Leeza SOHO in southwest Beijing’s Fengtai district, where the 5G Lab is located, into an intelligent building equipped with 5G infrastructure. Pan even donated several 5G mobile phones he received as gifts to the lab.
With 1,920 base stations, the double spiral-shaped building has already been covered with 5G signals of the three telecommunications operators. As such, the download speeds there can reach a thousand gigabits per second. It is now open to the public for free upon reservation.
Wangjing SOHO in northeast Beijing’s Chaoyang district, another property belonging to SOHO China, achieved full 5G signal coverage on June 14, based on the 5G LampSite of China Mobile. It was the world’s first large commercial building with complete 5G signal coverage.
According to Pan, SOHO China equipped its buildings with 5G technologies and facilities in order to get better mobile phone and internet connections. “We may only see 5G technologies facilitate basic communication today, but they could bring unlimited possibilities in the future,” he said.