Crowds gathered from midday on Saturday 17th March to collect their tickets for Layered Realities, a weekend of 5G exploration and experimentation. All ages came to hear, engage, and play with the weekend’s activities, from those who had no previous awareness of 5G, to those curious about just how the theoretical could be made possible.

The transition from potential to actual is thanks largely to our partnership with the Smart Internet Lab, part of the University of Bristol, which uses our NetOS® technology as the platform for the Layered Realities Weekend. 5G is the infrastructure, and over the weekend artists and scientists asked the question: what are we going to do with it?

5G offers the public and organisations within smart cities the ability for more bandwidth – so more data – and low latency, so more responsive. The wide variety of events, and their individual complexities, that comprised the Layered Realities Weekend required a highly complex network setup, which is where our NetOS® came in.

Our CEO Vassilis Seferidis shared: “Layered Realities is a fantastic chance to take our technology ‘out of the lab’ and to the public who will one day use 5G as part of their everyday lives. As the leading smart city in the world, Bristol is playing host to a richness of virtual reality, augmented reality, 360 videos, and more – and our NetOS® technology is bringing it all to life.”

The NetOS® demonstration comprised two views of the networks and devices: the logical connectivity of the connections, and the same connections overlaid on a geographical map of Bristol. This allowed visitors to see just how the hugely complex network could be sliced into simpler and more manageable views, where multiple tenants can only view and manage their slice of the network. The NetOS® user experience gave attendees the opportunity to see just what would happen if an unexpected device was connected to the network, causing red alert to appear.

The Layered Realities Weekend hosted interactive and engaging events through virtual reality. Members of the public were invited to participate in a poetic virtual reality dance experience hosted by Kaleider, conceived and directed by Seth Honnor with Andy Wood and All Seeing Eye. This not only explored the power of 5G to empower artistic expression in new ways, but also how 5G’s lower latency can enable the technical requirements of such ingenuity.

A guided tour through time entitled Billennium Square was offered by Uninvited Guests and Duncan Speakman, created as a collaboration between members of the public and a visual artist completely off-site. This demonstration depended on reliable data transmission of high bandwidth to create a synchronised experience across time and space.

Talks were given by Tim Kindberg, ginger coons, Jake Applebee, and Stuart Nolan exploring the role of crowds in 5G, how 5G enables social good, how music will change forever, and how physical touch can be transmitted across a network. The final talk of the day was given by Professor Dimitra Simeonidou, Director of the Smart Internet Lab at the University of Bristol, about the technology behind the creativity that was on display for the public to enjoy.

For Bristol, the Layered Realities Weekend is just the first public demonstration of an exciting 5G journey that started over 12 months ago with the establishment by the UK Government of the 5GUK Trials and Testbeds programme. We are continuing our collaboration with the University of Bristol’s Smart Internet Labs and other partners to use our NetOS® platform’s capabilities into bringing the benefits of the 5G connectivity to smart cities and to those who live in them.