PETALING JAYA: Soon you could be sitting in your driverless car, receiving messages from your fridge reminding you that the eggs will expire in two days, and your toothbrush telling you it is about to die if you don’t charge it.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad officially launched the 5G Malaysia Showcase in Putrajaya this week, and now everyone is eagerly waiting for the next generation mobile network to be rolled out.
5G is not just 100 times faster than the 4G we currently use. Peak download speeds are up to 20 gigabits per second compared to 4G peak speeds of one gigabit per second.
This will create a ripple effect on everyone’s life. At work, home, and play.
“Parts of our lives will be straight out of a Star Trek movie. We will all see incredible developments,” SL Rajesh of the International Association for Counter-Terrorism and Security Professionals, told FMT.
For a start, homeowners will be able to interact with their smart homes, including communicating with items in the fridge, other electrical household equipment, and even your toothbrush.
“These new types of fridge will be connected to your smartphone and you will receive notifications when you are running out of your kids’ favourite drink.
“Half an hour before coming home, you will be able to turn on your air conditioning. Or tell the vacuum cleaner to make a quick go around.”
He said with 5G every item in your house will be connected to generate data about your behaviour and so adjust music and lighting to your taste, and maintain your preferred temperature settings through your phone.
The high-quality, high-velocity streaming is also expected to increase home security where camera and alarm installations can be controlled from your phone, allowing you to be notified of suspicious movement within your property while you are away.
Water leaks, fire and other hazards will be detected before they become a problem.
Malaysians have long been talking about self-driving cars and with 5G that could become reality.
Rajesh said 5G is powerful enough to allow the lightning-fast calculations needed to control and guide driverless cars. “Such cars will continually be surveying the road and sending information up to the cloud, generating a true real-time map.
“Your car will be able to talk to other vehicles on the move. It will know when another car is changing lanes, slowing down or braking and will adjust speed accordingly,” he said.
And when you get home and the car has parked itself, prepare yourselves for movie heaven. According to Rajesh, you will be able to load high definition feature-length films in less than a second.
Rajesh praised all the innovations 5G will create, but he also has fears for the downsides he can see.
Even now, people often interact more with their smartphones than with each other. With 5G, there will be so many new opportunities to reduce face-to-face contact even more that we will all risk losing face-time with people we love.
“Families will need to ensure they spend quality time with each other.”
Also, there are concerns about the potential health impact of 5G mobile frequency emissions. He said there are fears the radiation from mobile antennas may be dangerous, fuelling concerns of increases in cancer and genetic disorders.
He hopes Putrajaya will measure levels of radiation, assess the risks and regularly inform the public about its findings.
“World leaders should look into this and agree on the levels of frequency safe for humans,” he said, adding this is to curb the likelihood of unexpected adverse health effects appearing in the future.
We are all familiar with the perils of hackers accessing and using our private data. Rajesh said computer experts will eventually find ways to stop hacking.
“When personal computers first appeared, no one imagined they would be hacked. Now millions of dollars are spent each year developing systems to protect our information and data,” he said.
We’ve come a long way within living memory. In the 1980s, first-generation technology made communication through cellphone possible.
The next generation, 2G, allowed for more efficient and secure phone calls, and introduced mobile text messaging.
3G ushered in the smartphone era, and 4G gave the world high-speed connections that make it possible to stream high-definition video on our phones.
Now with 5G, before you know it your fridge is going to be telling you to buy fresh eggs and milk. And probably nagging you until you do.
And if this constant stream of data gets too much for you, then as well as turning off Facebook notifications from that old school friend you no longer really want to talk to, if you’re feeling really mean you can always turn off your toothbrush’s pleas for a charge.
5G is about to usher in amazing advances, but ultimately we’ll all still need the ability to choose not only who but what we interact with.