Dresden University of Technology professor Gerhard Fettweis believes the next generation of wireless technology, G5, could be so fast that within 20 years it would match the speed of the human neural system, potentially enabling people to interact with distant places in the world in real time in a very lifelike fashion.
He says that through various devices, such as robots and feedback devices, people could remotely manipulate something far away and have it feel as though they were interacting with something directly in front of them. Fettweis calls this the "Tactile Internet" in a new study published in December. Fettweis sees numerous potential applications for the Tactile Internet. For example, he says it could be extremely useful in educational settings, enabling students to virtually "travel" to far away places or allow people to learn new skills such as flying or surfing without having to leave their homes. It also could create lifelike long-distance conversations. One area of particular promise is medicine. Combined with tele-robotics, the Tactile Internet could enable a doctor half way across the world to interact with a patient as though they were in an exam room together.
Fettweis says the first glimmers of the faster networks that could make the Tactile Internet possible are at least 10 years away.
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