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You could soon stream 4K VR movies to your car

Apple builds secret Virtual Reality unit.
Image Source | Getty Images
Apple builds secret Virtual Reality unit.

Passengers in driverless cars will soon be able to stream ultra-HD video straight to their virtually reality headsets thanks to super-fast 5G mobile internet, according to auto industry leaders.

On Monday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Samsung announced that it partnered with Verizon so show off "real-world use cases" for its 5G network equipment.

During the trial, the South Korean electronics giant exhibited 4K ultra-HD video content transmission over the air to a moving vehicle. As cars become driverless, streaming in-car entertainment is expected to become increasingly popular.

5G is the next generation of mobile internet that will not only power our smartphones, but also the so-called "Internet of Things" (IOT). That includes your washing machine wanting to send you a message and anything else connected to the internet.

The number of IOT devices will number 38.5 billion in 2020, up for 13.4 billion in 2015, a 285 percent rise, according to Juniper Research. But the current network infrastructure will not be able to cope.

That's why the industry is pushing forward with 5G, with fairly ambitious targets. The year 2020 has been touted as a deadline of the arrival of 5G, but there is still no global standard for the technology. That's what players from network equipment makers to semiconductor firms are trying to establish.

5G will deliver lower latency rates. This means that it will take a shorter amount of time to deliver a packet of data from one point to another, something that could provide a big boost for live VR streaming and 4K ultra-HD video streaming to cars.

5G and virtual reality

Industry heads also touted the potential of 5G on virtual reality.

"The virtual experience will be the most appealing 5G use case and the customer will be able to feel the real difference between 4G and 5G," Alex Jinsung Choi, chief technology officer at SK Telecoms, said during a keynote speech at Mobile World Congress on Monday.

Device makers from Samsung to HTC are pushing their VR hardware and platforms like Facebook and YouTube have allowed 360 virtual reality video on their sites. It's early days yet for virtual reality. But as it develops and an increasing number of people begin to view and make VR video, consumers will expect to livestream this using their smartphones and VR headsets.

Streaming VR video is different to something like Netflix as there are usually a number of different videos that need to "stitched" together to form an image. It will require a vast amount of data delivered in a short space of time for this to be smooth.

In its collaboration with Verizon, Samsung showed live streaming of 360 degree VR content in 4K ultra-HD, which consisted of 17 independent video feeds.

VR is also set to play a big area in gaming with devices such as the Oculus Rift and Sony's PlayStation VR headset aimed at that space. The lower latency rates will allow people to play games in VR without experiencing a slowdown in performance, something that will make the technology appealing to consumers.

"Some of the…VR real time gaming capabilities need lower latency…lower cost, I think that's going to be a big part for consumers," Matthew Grob, chief technology officer at Qualcomm, said during a panel discussion on Monday.