A First Look at What a 5G-Enabled World Looks Like, Courtesy of Samsung and IBM

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Built on the IBM Cloud, the new platform created in partnership with Samsung will now allow firefighters and other first responders to track first responders’ vitals, including heart rate and physical activity, to determine if that person is in distress and automatically dispatch help. (Photo attribution to Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd)

For years thought leaders in the technology, telecommunications, and media spaces have offered tantalizing visions of how 5G will transform society: lightning-fast video downloads, self-driving cars, eSports, robotic factories, and other revolutionary technologies yet-to-be imagined.

But these predictions often include qualifying language, reminding readers that, of course, no one can really predict the future, and anyway the real effects of 5G won’t be felt for some time.

It turns out the future is a lot closer than some thought. IBM’s major investments in Open and Secure Hybrid cloud – which enables enterprises of all kinds to collect, store and analyze data they generate – and developments in Artificial Intelligence and IoT, some of the groundwork has been laid for opportunistic companies to start building our collective future, now.

Enter IBM and Samsung. The recent announcement that the two companies are launching a new platform that will bring important new capabilities for first responders is one of the first, examples of how 5G – through cloud and edge computing – is transforming the world, right at this moment.

This platform, which brings together Samsung’s best-in-class 5G-enabled connected devices and services and IBM’s public cloud and AI, is designed to make first responders safer, but has potential applications far beyond that purview in many industries.

It is, in many ways, a model for future 5G applications. Here’s how it works: Samsung’s Galaxy Watches with biometric sensors and Galaxy smartphones enabled with 5G capability, can detect if a firefighter or police officer is suffering from stress or heat exhaustion, and IBM AI alerts other professionals to a potential problem before it becomes a life-threatening condition via IBM Cloud.

This solution has applications to numerous other Industry solution domains . The military, heavy manufacturing, and mining are other industries that could see improved safety conditions and better accident prevention. For example: sensors throughout a warehouse or mine could monitor safety conditions, with analytics alerting supervisors when equipment might need repairing or when conditions become unsafe.

What do these circumstances have in common? They are all situations where split-second decisions can be the difference between life and death or serious injury – thus the critical need for timely data, captured and analyzed in real or near-real time. It also underscores how data analysis is quickly becoming ever more central to the business of all enterprises, and why 5G will be such an important tool toward that end.

All enterprises that have been around for any length of time generate data – through work processes, interactions with their clients, or employee activities. It’s the harnessing and, more importantly, the ability to generate insights from this data that characterizes the Cognitive Enterprise. In this particular solution, think of Samsung’s IoT as the harnessing, and IBM’s cloud and AI as generating the insights.

The potential applications across other industries is enormous – and yet to be fully imagined. By creating a platform approach end-to-end solutions, Samsung and IBM are providing an innovation factory for a broad set of companies and an eco-system of partners to engage and collaborate.

And since this is just the beginning of the 5G revolution, there’s a need for a roadmap for future development. Which is where Samsung’s fit-for-purpose design approach and IBM Garage Methodology come into play. They create an open collaboration, accelerating how the two companies test and launch new business ideas with advanced cloud services. This approach integrates practices grounded in deep industry expertise at global scale through culture change into a single approach and driving enterprise design thinking.

5G is no longer a dream in the near future, just out of reach. The future starts now.

IBM Global Managing Director for the Communications Sector

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