Parlem Telecom has revealed details of a trial of advanced retail in Barcelona, made possible through 5G together with the internet of things and edge computing.
It said this opens up the possibility of augmented reality (AR) and personalised virtual retailing in traditional crowded markets, where remote users can choose specific products from various stops with the help of a “personal shopper” equipped with AR glasses.
The Catalan telecommunications operator believes 5G can create new possibilities for personalised and immersive online sales in traditional markets, which aspire to recreate the same experience in digital environments as customers receive in physical locations.
The trial, at Barcelona’s famous La Boqueria market, was carried out to provide remote users with a virtual shopping experience using AR technology that preserves the distinctive values of traditional shopping. The technological solution promoted by Parlem is designed to give new opportunity for the e-commerce platforms of traditional shops, as it allows customers who cannot shop physically – because of lack of time, remoteness, physical impediments, for example – to purchase fresh products as if they were in the market itself.
The Augmented Reality Personal Shopper app allows virtual shoppers to select in real time from their devices (PC, tablet or mobile phone) specific products from market stalls and obtain additional information about them with AR. The system, which is based on a private 5G network using edge computing servers that guarantees minimum latency in communications and high-capacity bandwidth, includes the participation of a La Boqueria personal shopper equipped with AR glasses as an intermediary between buyer and seller.
The shopper interacts with the stallholders and communicates live with the online shopper via video conference with ultra-high-definition images. During the shopping process, the virtual user receives an AR interface that the personal shopper is observing with their glasses in La Boqueria.
The 5G demonstration was based on a standalone 5G network designed and deployed by Cellnex Telecom and Lenovo’s edge computing solutions. A 5G access cell has been located in La Boqueria, which receives the signal and transmits it via fibre optic connectivity to a facility in the Municipal Institute of Parks and Gardens of Barcelona, which acts as a datacentre and processes the signal to connect to the local Cellnex server located in the same space.
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The Augmented Reality Personal Shopper application was developed by the i2CAT Foundation on behalf of Parlem Telecom as the leading company in this use case in La Boqueria.
Parlem Telecom CEO Ernest Pérez-Mas said: “The development of an innovative application with augmented reality in an environment as emblematic as La Boqueria can be a step forward for the e-commerce sector and ensure that local businesses can evolve digitally without losing their identity, thanks to the potential of 5G.”
Red.es general director Alberto Martínez Lacambra added: “5G is a technology with a transformative power that will mark a revolution and is an essential vector in the digitisation drive envisaged in the Spanish government’s Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan and is one of the pillars of the Digital Spain 2025 strategy. Today we have seen a clear example of the real impact that the use cases of the 5G pilot projects will have on our way of life, on the way we move around or shop – without doubt a unique opportunity for our cities, our citizens and to improve the productivity of our economy.”
The initiative in the Barcelona market is the first use case of the 5G Catalonia pilot being run by Red.es, an entity attached to Spain’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation. The pilot is being developed by a joint venture of eight companies led by Cellnex Telecom and the Masmovil Group, with the participation of operator Parlem Telecom, AR for industry specialist Aumenta Solutions, engineering company Atos, consultancy Nae, tech company Lenovo and startup Nearby Computing – a spin-off of the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre.
The 5G Catalonia project has a total budget of €5.4m and is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. The network will remain installed in Barcelona after the end of the use case.