A pop music venue that doesn’t just stage concerts in a hall, but also performances that people can experience at home. Or a professional football club that generates data that amateurs can use to improve their performance. These are two examples where the 5G network creates a new business. The 5G Hub at the High Tech Campus Eindhoven (HTCE) wants to challenge companies to implement their ideas for innovation. That is why it is issuing a challenge that companies can register for until the end of April. Those with the most innovative ideas will work with the Hub’s partners over a two-month period to further develop their idea.
At a distance
“We believe that 5G can perform any communication process remotely, no matter how critical it is,” says Senna Kloosterman of Ericsson. Working as “founding fathers” together with VodafoneZiggo, HTCE and Brainport Development, Ericsson is aiming to create a community where projects and initiatives emerge that “have real societal impact.”
Technically, the 5G network makes a lot possible, said René Visser of VodafoneZiggo in an earlier interview with IO. “But it was and remains a tool.” So the 5G hub is going to work with issues from the field. Says Kloosterman: “It is a unique environment where we are already using the 5G network of the future. We link the questions that companies have to applications. Together with the ecosystem, we come up with solutions.”
That matching is done in part through the challenge. A group of people from VodafoneZiggo, HTCE, Brainport Development and Ericsson, together with advisors from Rabobank and Strict, evaluate a pitch and a first draft of the idea. “We pair the teams that go through the process to the partners in our ecosystem,” Kloosterman explains. “This way we can align the requirements of the participating teams as well as possible. We will really work together towards creating fantastic applications. In the end, there will be a final with a development program from the partners of the challenge as a prize.”
As inspiration for new ideas, the 5G Hub organized a webinar in March. There, Jos Feijen of the Effenaar, Roy Smits of PSV and Tim Treurniet of Pegamento presented their concept on how they want to use 5G to upgrade their business.
The Effenaar is a pop stage in Eindhoven. One large and another smaller concert hall host about 700 performances annually, attracting over 150,000 visitors. “About three years ago, we came to the conclusion that the business case of a pop stage as we know it is not tenable,” says director Jos Feijen, who originally comes not from the music world but from advertising.
Seeing the ‘music world’ differently
“The pop music industry is very dynamic and there is a lot of risk involved. Some artists are popular one day and gone the next. So if you really want to develop new ideas or start new concepts, it’s very hard to do that in the business as we know it.” So Feijen and his team decided to start looking at the “music business” in a different way.
Feijen is looking for that different way mainly in technology. This is where the Effenaar Smart Venue comes in, a place that connects the artist performing in a live environment with technologies that improve both his stage performance and the experience for the audience, Feijen explains. An example of this is the full body motion capture suit of singer Chagall who makes music with her whole body.
Even before the coronavirus crisis, the Effenaar was looking for new technologies to adopt. After the intelligent lockdown beginning in mid-March last year, everything accelerated, says Feijen. Within two weeks the Effenaar was streaming concerts daily through its own streaming platform. Feijen says: “I think we have streamed about 200 concerts so far.”
One million people followed a concert, live and remotely, from 50 different countries. Especially in niche markets, such as for metal, we see a lot of engagement, says Feijen. “People from all over the world watch those concerts.” There are also festivals where sometimes about 50 programs are streamed in a few days.
But this is all still fairly straightforward streaming, Feijen points out. What he wants to get into is a totally different experience at home. “Now everyone wants to be at a concert, together with their friends. It’s not the same sitting on the couch at home. How can we make being at home on your couch as attractive as being at a concert? For example, with a hologram of the artist appearing on your table.”
“This could also be done by providing a different experience during the concert. With virtual-reality glasses, an extra dimension is added to the light, sound and video. Or by playing wirelessly,” Feijen explains. “All these bands now have a lot of equipment on stage and it would be great to have wireless.”
Another example of a company that is eager to innovate and be part of the 5G Hub is the Dutch soccer club PSV Eindhoven. “You have the big superclubs that you know from the Champions League – they have big budgets,” says Roy Smits, Manager of Innovation and ICT at PSV, “We can’t match their budget, so what we want to do is outsmart them.”
One way this could be done would be to use VR technology to give the people in the stadium a very different experience of the match, Smits says. “And through sports-tech, there is so much data nowadays that we can use in a clever way to make our players perform better.”
For Smits, the hub is literally a connector. “I met the Effenaar and Pegamento here. With those organizations, I’m exploring opportunities to innovate.” For instance, he is working with Treurniet of Studio diip / Pegamento. Together with him, Smits wants to ensure that the coach can monitor the training of the players virtually more accurately and in real time “to improve the performance of the athletes.”
“That could be done on our home field in the stadium with 4G as well, but outside we can’t collect that information. With a 5G network, it can be done everywhere.” With 5G, amateur teams can also use this technology to improve the skills of their players, Smits says. “That also benefits us, because if the amateur teams around us have better players, they can come to PSV and we can get better players for our team.”
The four founding fathers of the 5G Hub bring parties together to co-create and offer the opportunity to discover use cases, Kloosterman says. “Anyone can join us to explore the possibilities. And we challenge people with great ideas or a project to sign up for our challenge.”
You can register here: 5G Hub Challenge