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VR for Vodacom Durban July

This year’s Vodacom Durban July will see Vodacom partnering with Nokia to showcase the future of Virtual Reality (VR) through two different 5G powered experiences at Africa’s greatest horse racing event.

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The first VR experience will showcase the high speed and low latency capabilities of 5G and will use 4K video cameras to record and stream live, immersive footage from two different positions at the Greyville racecourse where the annual Vodacom Durban July horserace will take place on Saturday, 7 July. Each of these cameras will broadcast a live, 360 degree feed over 5G back to the Vodacom hospitality suite, where guests can experience the feeds from the racecourse through VR headsets, and be virtually transported into the live scenes from the day’s races.

The first camera has been positioned in the Parade Ring, which will enable guests at the Vodacom hospitality suite to have a live, virtual view of the horses as they are paraded before each race. The second camera has been positioned at the finish line, and will enable guests to watch the action packed finish of each race in VR, as if they were at the finish line themselves.  The images from the cameras will be streamed in real time over a Nokia Airscale 5G base station, and uses 100 MHz of Vodacom’s own spectrum in the 28 GHz frequency band.

A second 5G-enabled related VR experience will also be demonstrated in the form of a VR penalty shootout, where high speeds and super-low latency are both critical to the reality of the experience. The VR penalty shootout experience will enable participants to ‘feel’ the difference between the different latencies which are typical of 4G and 5G networks, by introducing different reaction times. This VR experience will allow participants to feel as if they are physically within a stadium facing the best goalkeepers in the world, which is fitting considering the soccer fever currently gripping the globe.

Andries Delport, Chief Technology Officer at Vodacom says: “Our future will be characterised by a range of new technologies that are fusing our physical and digital worlds. Robotics and super-realistic virtual & augmented reality are characteristic of this era. These new technologies require the high speed and low latency that only a 5G network can deliver.”

In keeping with the theme of the digital age, this year’s Vodacom Durban July will showcase the future of mobile networks. Mobile networks such as 5G and beyond will become the basis of how people, vehicles and homes will communicate. This is why Vodacom has embarked on ensuring its mobile network is ready and available to support this technology, when we are allocated the necessary spectrum by government.”

Vodacom’s 5G VR showcases at the Vodacom Durban July illustrate the opportunities and use cases which could be made available through a 5G network. Two of the major advances which 5G networks will bring over existing 4G technology is higher speeds and reduced latency or responsiveness. Latency is the time gap that exists between a request and a response in a system, which is typically around 20ms on a 4G network.  On a 5G network, this is reduced to less than 5ms, which means that the request-response between connections is almost real-time. This could enable 5G applications being extended to mission critical control of remote applications (e.g. industrial automation in factories, remote robotic surgery etc.) as well as smart vehicles and transportation systems, which require ultra-reliable and low latency communications.

In addition to the 5G showcases, Vodacom has a total of twelve base stations at the Greyville Racecourse, with a combination of ten permanent and two temporary base stations to cope with the crowds on the day, which are expected to exceed 50 000 visitors. These base stations have also been enabled with the latest 4G+ technologies to increase network capacity and speed. To guarantee optimal network user experience, all the base stations which are serving King Shaka International airport, all road routes to Greyville and the broader eThekwini area have been upgraded and optimised for maximum performance.

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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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