Here at hubraum, we’re big on doing. Not just sitting around in a meeting room debating ideas for the future, but putting changes into practice today. Which is why when we got the chance to host the student-led tech conference UNICON at hubraum, we decided to give the participants a hands-on challenge that could revolutionize daily life. UNICON unites 99 tech-focused students from top-tier universities in Europe for one day to learn, pitch and party together.
The heart of the conference is a group challenge — this time, we asked the students to think about the mobility of the future and how 5G could improve the experience. After all, most people use transport on a daily basis, whether to commute to work, meet friends for a drink or to travel abroad. But even though mobility is something that affects our lives on a daily basis, there’s still countless issues, big and small, which need solving. So why not use technology to try and solve some of these problems?
The students had four hours to team up and prototype a service, solution or app that helped to make transport better for everyone. They were asked to use their daily experience to describe the problem they would be solving from the user’s perspective. Then they had to try to find out how the new possibilities offered by 5G could ease the problem. We challenged participants to describe their solution in concrete terms, explaining both the product interface and the tone, look and feel of the product. We also asked them to describe which technology they would need to use to develop their solution. Oh yes — and they needed to deliver their pitch in three minutes or less. No pressure! (So much pressure!)
While there were 19 teams, there were just five finalists. You can find their ideas below — read on for a glimpse into the future of mobility.
SOLVING THE POTHOLE PROBLEM
In Germany, over 26 percent of all cars on the road are – due to 5G innovation – continuously connected to the internet and stream data about the car and its environment to the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (or “OEM”) servers. Team 19’s idea was to leverage the data that is already being collected by millions of cars out on the nation’s roads every day to create data-backed insights into where the government should spend their budget for road repairs. This would have a huge impact, given how much money Germany has allocated for its road repair budget — a massive 13 billion US dollars.
Their goal was to analyze the suspension sensors to detect road issues like potholes. They would then blend this real-time data with location information and visualize the data on a dashboard which would enable the government to take action by effectively fixing pain points for citizens. OEMs have started to allow third parties access to the vehicle data — team 19 proposed extracting and anonymising real-time data related to the condition of roads, harnessing the suspension sensors, the ESP data and lane detection data to do so.
We asked Team 19 how their solution would revolutionize the way transport works.
“Our solution would (potentially) not revolutionize the way transport works, but it would significantly increase the convenience of the current transport system for citizens and would improve the efficiency in spending from a governmental perspective.”
SOLVING TICKET TROUBLE
Traveling via public transport can be a headache. You have to figure out what ticket category you need for each specific journey, buy your ticket and make sure you carry your ticket on your person the whole time. Existing transport cards, like London’s Oyster cards, solve some of these pain points. But they’re still far from perfect, since you still have to charge them with money and carry them with you. Team 4’s plan was to take the transport ticket system to the next level.
They proposed an app on your phone which uses 5G technology to accurately track your location, record when you’re on public transport and to automatically deduct the money for the correct ticket from your bank account. It starts tracking you as soon as you get on the bus, s-bahn or u-bahn and stops tracking as soon as you get off again. This way, it charges you for the distance you traveled.
We asked Team 4 if their idea would revolutionise public transport.
“Sure, since you’d never have to think about it again. You only have to set it up once and after that, it’s a no brainer, you’d just get on and off transport as and when you need without having to think about tickets.”
REVOLUTIONIZING ROAD SAFETY
In Germany in 2015, over 15,000 people were badly hurt in road accidents because of poor weather conditions. So how can cars share information to maximize road safety? Team 9 aimed to solve this issue by using information collected by the Electronic Stability Control (or “ESC”). The ESC is a system which detects potentially dangerous road conditions like slippery and icy roads, predominantly by monitoring the speed of the individual wheels. It can adjust and even brake to stabilize the car. Their idea is the following: In the event of a car losing control (and then regaining its former stability), this information would be shared with other cars that might drive along the same stretch of road. By sending the exact location of the occurrence and possibly additional information, other drivers could receive visual and sonic warnings when approaching the spot where another car potentially had some trouble earlier. This would be unworkable without 5G — a fast connection speed, accurate location tracking and a high overall bandwidth are just some of the features which make this idea possible.
We asked Team 9 how this idea might revolutionise public transport.
“According to an analysis from the U.S. Department of Transportation, ESC systems are able to reduce all fatal single-vehicle run-off-road crashes by 36 percent for passenger cars and by 70 percent for light trucks and vans. This shows how effective those systems are, but we are confident that by using 5G, we will be able save even more lives by enabling a system that is able to warn other vehicles even before ESC has to take over control.”
MAKING AIRPORTS EASIER TO NAVIGATE
Nowadays, people fly all the time. They start their day in New York and end it in Moscow, often under enormous pressure to make it to their next flight on time. But most travellers aren’t familiar with the layout of every single airport. There are countless ways to get lost in these vast buildings. Team 1 asked themselves: how might they be able to ensure that each and every traveller feels confident about finding their way around a new airport? Their solution is Catch It, a software harnessing Augmented Reality technology. It’s made for devices like mobile phones – and, in the future, AR lifestyle glasses.. Once you arrive at the airport, the app uses your phone display to show you in real time and in tandem with the real environment around you the best way to your gate.
Team 1 explained that this idea could be revolutionary since “using 5G, devices are always connected” and “locations can be tracked precisely.” Furthermore, it tells the airline exactly where you are and if you’ll be able to catch your flight on time.
…THE WINNING IDEA
Can 5G make mobility easier for blind people? Team 14 believes so and their winning idea ‘Aye’ shows how vast an impact technology can have on solving transport issues. Since 5G provides low latency and allows for a huge data transfer, it’s ideal for processing huge data sets. Team 14’s idea was for the blind person to wear a headband with different sensors which would pick up surroundings and send the information to their phone. The phone would then transfer all the data through 5G to a server which will process the data and send real-time navigation instructions back to the blind person. All of this would be voice-based.
Team 14 told me the inspiration behind the award-winning idea was “similar technology [being] already used for autonomous car driving” which they decided to apply to Aye. They believe it could be revolutionary in terms of allowing blind people to “be more independent” and being “able to go to the grocery store or the park without being helped by other people.” I asked team member Minh Nguyen how did it felt to be a member of the winning team: “Really rewarding…I was able to get to know my team members quite well in a short amount of time and we had a great time developing this idea. The hubraum challenge was interesting, we got insights into 5G and the overall atmosphere during the challenge was awesome. Also the invitation to the 5G summit in the summer is a great bonus!”
Intrigued? Don’t forget to put April 10 in your diary – that evening hubraum will host the grand opening of our brand-new studio. If you want to see how 5G will change everything, get set for prototypes (and existing working solutions) and 5G showcases straight from Deutsche Telekom.