Vuzix, Verizon look to pair 5G smart glasses with first responders
Picture this: A patient at home is struggling to breathe and calls 911. The emergency medical technicians arrive and determine they need help from a doctor. One EMT slips on a pair of 5G-enabled smart glasses and is able to receive guidance from a doctor at the local hospital who can see the patient through the EMT’s glasses. The glasses allow the EMT to be hands-free and able to conduct whatever procedure the doctor recommends.
This may seem a bit far-fetched, but the current COVID-19 pandemic is putting a spotlight on the importance of 5G and what it can do for mission-critical services such as remote healthcare. The end result is that demand for smart glasses and other 5G-enabled wearable technologies is increasing rapidly.
According to Paul Travers, president and CEO of smart glasses manufacturer Vuzix, the timeline for 5G-enabled smart glasses has accelerated. To that end, Verizon in July announced a partnership with Vuzix to develop 5G-enabled glasses that can be used by first responders and public safety agencies. Verizon is giving Vuzix access to its 5G First Responder Lab as well as its 5G specialists so that the two companies can develop these 5G-enabled glasses over the next six months. Vuzix plans to unveil a commercial version in January 2021 to workers in the emergency management sector.
Travers said that the company has been approached by a number of wireless firms and it is working with other operators in addition to Verizon.
Although it’s still early in the Verizon partnership, Travers said the Vuzix Wi-Fi-enabled smart glasses already can connect to a 5G hub or hotspot that is located in an ambulance or fire truck. He calls this the first phase.
For the next phase, the 5G-enabled smart glasses will need a 5G module that is small enough to embed in the glasses. “5G radios aren’t low power yet,” Travers said, adding that power is the biggest issue because it adds weight to the glasses. One way to get around this, Travers said, is to have the glasses wired into a battery pack and a 5G module, but that is still just a short-term solution until 5G modules shrink in size.
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