While many Kiwis will only think of 5G as the signal indicator at the top of their phone, for four game-changing local businesses it's given them opportunities to innovate.
Six months after being named as winners of the Spark 5G Starter Fund the businesses have launched technology prototypes showing just how important 5G can be across Aotearoa and the world.
Robotics company Rocos, VR gaming creator Beyond and health businesses Objective Acuity and oDocs Eye Care shared $625,000 of funding and technology support from Spark in October 2020.
Since then each business has been developing, testing and refining its product with 5G technical support and business mentoring from Spark and its partners, including testing inside Spark’s new Innovation Studio that launched to the public in March.
The telecommunications company became involved because they wanted to demonstrate the power of 5G by collaborating with some of the country's most innovative businesses, says Product Director Tessa Tierney.
"I think the most important aspect is we're still learning what this technology can do - everything from how it can impact health, to how it can impact gaming, to robots," she said.
"We, as a global community, are still understanding the power of this technology and these types of events and collaborations are really what's needed to unlock innovation and productivity across the world and definitely in New Zealand.
"Being able to visualise for people what the technology can do is important in telling stories and to be able to interact with it is a whole other level again. I have no doubt we'll continue to be involved in supporting them and understanding more about the technology and how they develop over time."
5G is also available from Vodafone in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown while 2degrees announced last month they'll be rolling it out in Auckland and Wellington later this year.
Here's how the winning companies are using 5G in their technology:
Objective Acuity have been using 5G to develop software-based screening tests that are more accurate and accessible for detecting vision problems in younger children.
Beyond has developed the ability for mobile gamers to join and assist virtual reality players in their free-roam game Oddball via their mobile phone, opening up the VR world to those without a headset.
oDocs Eye Care has developed a live consultation portal to connect healthcare professionals to patients in remote regions, including remote eye consultations through a 5G-enabled device attached to a handheld ophthalmoscope.
Rocos use 5G to remote control one of Boston Dynamics' robot dogs, meaning it can be used for remote inspections and in areas that may be inaccessible to humans.