Toward The Metaverse: Rohde & Schwarz & Slalom Join Forces To Realize 5G-Enabled AR-Animated Avatar Calls

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The metaverse and extended reality (XR) applications are considered critical to unlocking the full consumer potential of the 5G technology. Rigorous testing is crucial to ensure the performance and market acceptance of these immersive experiences. Rohde & Schwarz and Slalom have collaborated to address this need, developing essential tools to test XR use cases thoroughly prior to market launch. At Mobile World Congress 2024, visitors can experience a first demonstration of how to enable tomorrow’s augmented reality.

The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) closely examined extended reality (XR) applications with Release 17. This was pivotal in identifying the current limitations and potential enhancements in today’s 5G specifications, paving the way for 5G-Advanced, which will be addressed in Release 18. One of the key areas for 5G-Advanced is the development of animated avatar calls that use augmented reality. This is considered a stepping stone toward a broader integration of the metaverse.

Rohde & Schwarz, a leader in test and measurement solutions, has partnered with Slalom, a next-generation professional services company creating value at the intersection of business, technology, and humanity, to create a state-of-the-art lab environment. This collaboration has resulted in a test bed for XR-based use cases. At the test bed’s core is the R&S CMX500 5G one-box signaling tester from Rohde & Schwarz. This innovative setup empowers network operators to evaluate XR-based applications and services in a controlled environment, ensuring optimal performance and quality of experience (QoE) for their subscribers even before mainstream deployment.

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The animated avatar, developed by Slalom, renders on a cloud computing architecture, which is seamlessly integrated with the R&S CMX500. The R&S CMX500 emulates a 5G network to establish a Voice over New Radio (VoNR) connection to the end-user device. The end-user experience is brought to life using a Motorola edge 40 pro 5G smartphone connected to Lenovo ThinkReality A3 Smart Glasses, where the avatar is displayed. The system also features a loopback of audio samples, laying the groundwork for future audio
quality assessments based on the POLQA algorithm. A key aspect of the avatar’s animation is head movement emulation, which is designed to convey attentiveness during calls. The accurate rendering and timely display of such details on the end-user device are among the key performance indicators that are being further investigated by both companies.

Christoph Pointner, Senior Vice President for Mobile Radio Testers at Rohde & Schwarz says: “We are thrilled to enhance our application testing capabilities through our collaboration with Slalom. This partnership lays a robust foundation for the wireless ecosystem, accelerating the market introduction of XR-based applications and services to pave the way for the metaverse.”

Sam Andrews, General Manager at Slalom says: “In partnership with Rohde & Schwarz, we have developed
an innovative concept where we can assess and measure the end-to-end quality of XR experiences that
considers network, device, and application to create seamless outcomes for end users and unlock new

opportunities for enterprises.” Jason Inskeep, Advanced & Converged Architectures / Mobile / 5G at Slalom, adds: “At Slalom, we believe that being able to architect a true end-to-end integrated solution – from the network to the application layer to the end user – is fundamental to helping our customers achieve resiliency and efficiency at scale, unlock new revenue streams and create amazing customer experiences.”

This collaboration between Rohde & Schwarz and Slalom opens the way to virtual interactions that are more immersive and personal. For consumers, this innovation promises an enhanced sense of presence and engagement during voice calls.

Rohde & Schwarz and Slalom will demonstrate the test bed for AR-animated avatar calls at the Mobile World Congress 2024 at the Rohde & Schwarz booth 5A80 in hall 5 of Fira Gran Via in Barcelona.


 

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