Stuart Cain CEO - 5G Will Kickstart A Golden Era

Date: 24 Feb 2020

The advent of a new decade will have many event professionals pondering what lies ahead for the industry over the coming years, but we’re already ahead of the curve at Ricoh Arena where we are investing in 5G that will kickstart a golden era for the events sector.

Towards the end of last year the Vodafone Business Lounge was launched at Ricoh Arena – a space where businesses can experience new technology such as 5G and the Internet of Things, where every-day objects are internet-enabled, and high-speed fibre.

Research by Vodafone revealed that 76 per cent of business leaders in the sports industry confirm their organisation will use 5G as a platform for innovation, with 74 per cent believing it will underpin efforts to meet rising fan expectations.

The same principle can be applied in the conference and exhibition industry where organisers want to be wowed and given the platform to take their event to the next level.

It is when you walk through the doors of the lounge that the excitement really hits you, and the realisation hits home of how influential 5G technology is going to be across society as the technology rolls out across the UK.

Visitors to the Vodafone Business Lounge at Ricoh Arena will be able to take advantage of some of the permanent displays within the lounge – these include a 5G ‘drop goal’ virtual reality experience, and a ‘Day in the life of 5G’ showcasing the impact 5G will have on the sports, retail and automotive industries .

But what does all of this mean for conferences and exhibitions that are coming to Ricoh Arena?

We are seeing more event organisers asking us what we can deliver for them that is truly different, and this partnership with Vodafone marks the start of a whole new level of discussion with the 700-plus conference and exhibition organisers that visit us every year about how the technology can enhance their own events.

Over time, we expect 5G to widen the use of virtual reality and augmented reality within conferences and exhibitions that will really push the boundaries of how event organisers are engaging with their delegates and visitors.

This engagement could range from visitors using their smartphones to view a live setting overlaid with digital content – through to using VR headsets for interactive exercises.

We’ve already trialled 5G technology at a Wasps rugby match where a small number of seats have been able to provide live data, match footage and the ability to order food and drink to their seats. This service is still in its infancy but is one that has potential to offer greater operational efficiency for event organisers and greater convenience for visitors.

Thanks to the speed and low-latency of 5G technology I also think you will eventually see events - conferences especially - broadening their audience reach to individuals across the globe both via live streaming and VR headsets for highly immersive experiences.

The UK’s first haptic transfer over 5G will give you an idea of the transformational potential. Two players from Wasps rugby team were able to run a training session despite being more than 100 miles apart. The impact of a rugby tackle made by Will Rowlands at Ricoh Arena in Coventry was transferred via Vodafone 5G to teammate Juan de Jongh on stage in London. Juan, in a specially developed haptic Tesla suit, was able to feel the force of the tackle in real time!

Ricoh Arena is now one of the most technically advanced venues in the country, and by gathering input and feedback from conference and exhibition organisers and analysing this with our technology partners Vodafone and Ericsson, we are perfectly placed to maximise the use of 5G technology for the events industry over the coming years.

About Ricoh Arena

Ricoh Arena is one of the UK’s most versatile venues for live sport, music, conferences and exhibitions, putting the Midlands on the map as a leading destination for events.

The venue boasts a 32,000-seater stadium bowl alongside the 6,000 square metre Ericsson Indoor Arena and 80 versatile suites for meetings. There is also an onsite 121-bedroom DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Grosvenor Casino.

The Coventry-based venue is within a two-hour car journey of 75 per cent of the UK, and is twenty minutes away from Birmingham Airport.