Mobile technology manufacturers promise that 5G will enable new, increased interaction between devices and the world around us.
However, according to WITgrip, a patented solution to change the way technology is worn on the wrist, the impact of 5G will be limited unless users also have new, smart interfaces with their devices.
"Major players are investing in 5G-ready hardware, with a focus on greater speed and connectivity," says Dr Raj Partheban, founder of start-up WITgrip (Wearable Interactive Technology grip). "However, to benefit from these new technologies people will need a new and different way to use, and interact, with their mobile devices."
"5G devices will need to become wearable in a more practical, comfortable way," says Partheban, whose WITgrip solution covers methods of wearing devices like smartphones, of any size and from any manufacturer, on the inside of the wrist. "But so far, manufacturers have overlooked the need for a suitable interface that connects users with the new opportunities that 5G offers."
Revolutionising video calling
Smartphones have made video calling easier than ever. With 5G able to support live video streaming more effectively, there is great potential for lengthy, reliable video conferencing for business. However, holding on to a smartphone for the duration is not a comfortable or consistent option. The WITgrip solution, developed with professional product designers and intellectual property specialists, will support this next generation of technology by providing a natural, wearable, interface with the user.
"Holding a smartphone out in front of you for long periods of time is impractical, so the interface usually considered is mounting a phone on the back of the wrist," says Partheban. "However, this makes the device glanceable at best - try it yourself."
"Look at the back of the wrist and in under a minute you'll start to feel strain, perhaps in your neck, your forearm and your shoulder. This position puts stress on the muscles and tendons and causes fatigue and discomfort." Partheban continues
By contrast, the WITgrip solution of wearing the device on the side of the wrist places the wearer in an anatomical 'neutral' viewing position.
"Relax, start again and look at the side of your wrist where the device would be, you'll experience that there is no strain on the arm, shoulder or neck," Partheban says. "This position enables prolonged interaction and ensures you can see the screen comfortably."
This will allow business users, for example, to take better advantage of 5G enabled live video calls and participate in long conference calls in comfort. In addition, this wrist position increases the professional appearance of video calling by reducing camera shake because the arm acts as a natural gimble to increase steadiness.
Enabling flexible smartphones
In a bid to increase wearability and connectivity, some companies are developing flexible 'wrap-around' smartphones. The current proposed designs curve around the wrist like a bangle and may slip into the wrong position. No matter how fast or reliable the 5G connection, this makes the device impractical and difficult to use.
With the WITgrip solution, the wrap-around device will be partly worn over the side of the wrist and comfortably and securely held in place. Even when touching the screen, the device will not slide around, making it possible to use it fully without taking it off.
"WITgrip will support new flexible screen technologies by overcoming the key issues around the interface between the smartphone and the human body," Partheban says. "Our approach can help users interact fully with their device, enabling it to truly become part of the wearer."
WITgrip is now seeking strategic partnerships in order to develop solutions for futureproof 5G technologies.
"5G is smarter, so devices will become smarter too, but this means little if the way we wear and interact with our devices doesn't change," says Partheban. "WITgrip aims to educate manufacturers about the many benefits of wearing devices in the neutral position, as this will be critical for ensuring that mobile devices are genuinely 5G ready."